With SUV sales predicted to hit 24.3 million by 2020 and the EV segment the fastest growing in the automotive industry, Jaguar has every confidence that an electric SUV should sell.
But first, it needs to convince the market that this is a vehicle worthy of worldwide appeal. Naturally, anyone au fait with electric vehicles will immediately point towards Tesla which has managed to gain global interest, if not always in the best light. Jaguar, on the other hand, is a company that has built its reputation and success on internal combustion. Of course, that is largely because petrol and diesel were the only power sources available for a long time.
Today, Jaguar is a very different and forward thinking animal that plans to electrify its fleet of vehicles by 2020, starting with the I-Pace.
Having first experienced the I-Pace in development mule form, it’s an understatement to state that we were excited to give the production version a go. And, after 11,000 hours of rig testing, more than 1.5 million miles of test drives and 200+ prototype vehicles made, I-Pace is finally ready for market.
Let’s get technical…
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of any electric car (though it shouldn’t be) is range. There’s a 90kWh battery that offers 298 miles (480km) autonomy - and that’s WLTP rated, meaning it should be a far more realistic figure than the often nonsense NEDC might suggest. The battery can be charged in 13.9 hours using a 7kW home charge point, or as little as 15-minutes can provide 62 miles of range using a 100kW rapid charger - twice the power of current generation 50kW chargers (not that you’ll find any in the UK, yet).
I-Pace uses the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) and so benefits from being able to use any of the thousands of compatible rapid chargers around Europe.
The reality is that with a range of almost 300-miles, most owners will simply charge at home overnight and that’ll be that. They can head more than 100 miles away from home regularly, happy in the knowledge that the car will get them home – and without the need to fuss abut charging too. For those who wish to venture further, clearly, the I-Pace doesn’t offer quite the same level of luxury as that available from Tesla, with their proprietary Supercharger network. That said, once 100 or 150kW charge points become commonplace, I-Pace owners will benefit from a similar experience, albeit not likely free. Using CCS also means the I-Pace can use the Ionity network that’s being developed by Mercedes-Benz, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen Group, but will of course be limited to its maximum charge rate. Don’t expect Jaguar to update the car to use 350kW charging, however, as it would require a wholly new battery setup and electronics running at 800 volts to be able to do so.
Preconditioning of the battery when plugged into the mains can extend range by as much as 60 miles, counteracting the effect of cooler temperatures - important in Scandinavian countries, for example. What’s more, I-Pace is equipped with a heat pump that absorbs ambient energy, even in sub-zero temperatures, to offer up to an additional 30 miles.
Pod Point has been named as a preferred supplier for Jaguar Land Rover plug-in vehicles, although Chargemaster units are shown in press photos and should be purchasable too.
What’s it like inside?
The interior has been designed to be light and airy, with plenty of glass and use of light materials, as well as Jaguar’s signature use of wood, leather and aluminium. The designers have done their best to capitalise on the electric drivetrain’s compact packaging and the lack of internal combustion (IC) engine to provide a large 10-litre bin in the centre console, a boot with 656-litres - extending to 1,453 with the rear seats folded - and a ‘froot’ (front boot) offering 27-litres of space or enough to store charge cables. In effect, this is a car that’s shorter than a midsize saloon like Jaguar’s own XF, but larger inside than a limo like the XJ.
The dashboard is a purposeful blend of old school function meets new age touchscreens. Designer Ian Callum felt this to be an important aspect of the car, keeping rotary temperature control dials that are simple and effective rather than stuff everything onto a fiddly touchscreen. In practice this works well, but feels slightly at odds with our brain’s pre-conditioning when compared to, say, Tesla.
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