2019 Jaguar i-Pace
We check out Jaguar's electric SUV on Sri Lankan roads
Published on 16 Feb 2022
(NOVEMBER 2019) When you first set your eyes on the i-Pace, the first question that comes to mind… is it a car or is it an SUV. But when you start driving it; and indeed if you are lucky to be living with one, you will soon realize that it is neither a car nor an SUV. It is indeed a crossover. And if you want a hint about the future of the automobile, take a closer look at the i-Pace.
This is Jaguar’s first step into the electric motoring future. For Jaguar, it heralds a new era of electric powertrains. By the way, the i-Pace just won Germany’s Car of the Year award, and so many other awards - so it has a head start. The i-Pace proportions are dramatic, with a short bonnet appropriate to an EV’s smaller space requirements but also dramatically styled with a classic Jaguar grill and intensely staring headlamp pods. The sophisticated, all-electric power-train provides top notch performance with zero tailpipe emissions. Its cutting-edge technologies work seamlessly with the car and with the driver/occupants. Great to look at and drive, I found it easy to live with, and smart in every way.
Firstly, what the i-Pace is not…it is certainly not another boxy SUV. It is also not a difficult-to-get-in-and-out sports car. Our Photon Red test i-Pace attracted a mini audience wherever we took it, not merely because of its colour, and not because it’s a Jaguar – but I think because of its’ unusual stance and muscular looks. The grill is solid black plastic, and optimize the balance between cooling and aerodynamics. Active Vanes open when cooling for the batteries is required, but close when not needed to redirect air through the integral bonnet scoop, smoothing airflow.
The bold 18-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in chunky 65-profile rubber and the bulging mudguards really sets it apart from other Jaguars, although the sleek, coupe-like silhouette is influenced by the Jaguar C-X75 supercar with its short, low bonnet, aero-enhanced roof design and curved rear screen. The cab-forward design contrasts with its squared-off rear, which no doubt helps reduce the stated drag coefficient to just 0.29Cd. From the sides, its windows make the i-Pace look car-like, but the high roof means a generous rear cargo space. Flush-mounted door handles pop out for operation, then recede again, leaving a smooth, aerodynamic surface.
Mech & Tech
The i-Pace employs two electric motors, one at each axle, which generate 394 horsepower and a mighty 512 pounds-feet of torque. Power for this all-wheel-drive system comes from a 90-killowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery that gives the i-Pace a very usable 470 kms of range (manufacturer’s figures). Owners will be able to achieve a 0-80 per cent battery charge in 40-minutes using DC rapid charging (100kW). Home charging with an AC wall box (7kW) will achieve the same state of charge in just over ten hours – ideal for overnight charging. 15 minutes charging at 100kW DC gives up to 100 kms of extra range. The bespoke aluminium architecture of the i-Pace monocoque uses advanced riveting and bonding technology to deliver a light, but stiff structure. Together with the structural battery pack, it is said to have the highest torsional rigidity of any Jaguar thus far. The placement of the battery pack ensures perfect 50:50 weight distribution which is apparent when it comes to the handling department. As can be expected from a high-end EV, there is seemingly no end to the tech used in the i-Pace.
Beautiful fit and finish inside support the i-Pace’s premium credentials. The first impression is understated elegance, with a layered, wrapped and stitched dash, real metal and wood trim, and great touch-points throughout the cabin. The instrument panel is a configurable color screen, with virtual representations of analog gauges. The standard glass panoramic roof lends an airy feel to the interior. So once in the driver’s seat, get comfortable by moving the electric seat fore/aft, up/down and back rest with the switch on the side. If you are up in the cold hill-country in December, you can heat the seats before getting in – but no there is no option to cool them for Colombo drives.
Nothing can prepare you for the first time you actually get in and bury that throttle pedal in the carpet. The way it catapults itself towards the horizon is almost comical because it’s silent and seemingly never ending. For us ‘petrol-heads’ who are used to the roar of an engine and screaming of an exhaust at this sort of acceleration - it’s also slightly disconcerting. You virtually get pasted to the back of your seat as you do in cars meant for the race-track… but without the fuss of a conventional engined car. If you are gentle with the right foot, the i-Pace responds with quiet, sedate motoring – no flat spots, no turbo lag and no gear change blips. The pace that you achieve is fully controllable, thanks to low-mounted batteries which give the car a very low centre of gravity. There is almost no discernible roll.
The steering is light in “Eco” and “Comfort” modes, but stiffens up and becomes sportier in the “Dynamic” mode. The side mirrors have blind-spot monitoring built in to them and warns the driver with beeps when changing lanes. The brakes… actually you can drive the car around virtually the whole day using only the accelerator pedal – if there are no Tuk Tuks suddenly cutting in front of you that is! How come? Well the regenerative braking kicks in the moment you fully lift-off the throttle, making life so much easier for the driver… and all the time making Greta Thunberg happy as well! The air suspension of the i-Pace can also be set to “off-road” all though that is not something you should do most of the time. In the off road setting, the car lifts up to look more like an SUV and also achieves a wading depth capability of 50mm as well!
Living with the i-Pace
I think the i-Pace is one of the best-looking vehicles out there. It can be driven super-fast, or totally civilized, depending on what you want from it. It is responsive and handles like its’ on rails. Being an EV, the range matters in the long term. The range of the i-Pace is going to be good enough for most people, especially if you plan to use it mainly for the home to office commute with some week-end socializing. Currently in Sri Lanka, a road trip in an i-Pace needs to be planned properly. It will need two full charges– if you are looking at no Range Anxiety - to go from Colombo to Jaffna and back; until the charging infrastructure with over 100 kW of capacity becomes more prevalent.
Therefore, the i-Pace would make a great family vehicle which will also have the capability of handling some unsealed and/or flooded roads as well. I was impressed with how solid the i-Pace feels. It has high-quality interior materials that people willing to spend that sort of money would demand from a premium model. It’s a dedicated EV, not something adapted from an existing, conventional model. The front seats are roomy, comfortable, and supportive for long drives. Rear seats are also comfortable albeit restrictive where leg room is concerned for taller passengers. It has a firm, composed ride and doesn't transfer impacts from bumps to its occupants.
There is 4-zone climate control with rear vents in the B-pillars. There are 4 USB ports for charging and one 12V accessory port in the rear. There are little blind-spot warning lights in the rear door alerting you of possible obstacles when opening them.
The Meridian sound system (we counted 11 speakers but maybe more as there seems to be a subwoofer too) has decent low-end bass punch and clear highs. There is also a Wireless hotspot on board for internet junkies, with support for up to eight devices!
The i-Pace utilizes a combination of aluminum and steel to form a rigid cage around the battery, providing increased safety for all vehicle occupants. As described above, Jaguar has addressed the problem of pedestrians being unaware of the silent i-pace, by introducing an external acoustic signal at low speed. A comprehensive system of six airbags including driver and passenger airbags, side curtain and thorax are standard to help protect occupants. Three latch points for baby/child seats are fitted on each side of the rear seats. On the Driver assistance side of things, making long distance driving and heavy traffic situations easier, the i-Pace offers Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist. This system is designed to automatically center and steer the I‑PACE in its lane while maintaining a set distance from vehicles ahead. There is emergency braking designed to help prevent collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists using camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors. If a potential front collision is detected, the system gives audible and visual warnings. If no action is taken, the system is designed to apply the brakes to help reduce the severity of the possible impact. The i-Pace will even monitor you(!) by following your steering inputs, brake and throttle pedal activity, and detect if you’re starting to feel drowsy and give you an early warning when you need to take a break.
Fuel Econ & Price
The economy of using an i-Pace will depend on the charging options available to you… at least if you are thinking only of the cost of fuel vs. the cost of electricity. However there are several costs associated with car ownership other than fuel per se. An EV can result in significant long-term savings on this front. Several studies have found that electric vehicles overall cost less than half as much to operate as petrol or diesel-powered cars. Typically Internal Combustion Engines’ maintenance costs stack up over time, and would include changing the engine oil, filters, coolant, transmission fluids, belts etc. By comparison, electric cars don’t have internal combustion engines, so these costs disappear. Universal vehicle expenses like tyre and brake changes, suspension and structural repairs are part of owning any vehicle, and EVs would be no different. Suffice to say then that your i-Pace would be significantly cheaper to run than a comparable Internal Combustion car.
The starting price of the i-Pace is an eye watering Rs 28M at the time of testing, thanks to our local import duty structure, albeit possibly the best value for money in this range of vehicle in the local market due to some concessions being available for electric vehicles compared to internal combustion vehicles.
Not content with simply making an electric car that can get from A to B with minimal fuss and fuel bills, Jaguar has created something desirable, fun to drive and even transforms to a capable SUV when the going gets tough. Access Motors, the local agent for Jaguar/Land Rover have the advantage of being first to introduce the i-Pace – a fully electric mid-sized vehicle, to the local market. It is engaging to drive with a luxurious and modern cabin. Its styling is modern yet maintains many of the striking design cues that make Jaguar stand out.
The i-Pace has enough dynamism for owners to take much encouragement and satisfaction from the car’s driving experience. It has performance bordering on the wild, a design effective in being recognizably Jaguar, and a top-notch interior – all of which should secure it the consideration of anyone who cares about driving and sustainability. With its first all-electric model, Jaguar has not only beaten traditional rivals, but also set a high bar for others to follow.