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First Drive: Jaguar I-Pace

Does Jaguar’s first electric car meet expectations? Jonathan Musk finds out…

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SECTOR Small SUV   PRICE £58,995-£81,495 (after Plug-in Car Grant)   RANGE 298 miles WLTP   CO2 0g/km

With up to 20,000 I-Pace destined for autonomous treatment courtesy of Waymo (formerly Google self-driving car project) and a further 200 to be used around Heathrow Airport, Jaguar has already managed to make its electric mark in the world of fleet.

Thanks to the 90kWh battery positioned between the wheels, a 3-metre wheelbase and short overhangs, the I-Pace’s exterior is shorter than an XF but with the interior space of an XJ. Interior fit and finish is a cut above other Jaguar, but no great strides of innovation are present – it’s still a regular two-plus-three layout. 656-litres of boot space (growing to 1,453-litres with the rear seats folded flat), a 10-litre central storage bin, shelves under the rear seats and a 27-litre “froot” round out the storage space. In practice, it doesn’t feel as spacious as it might have been, but it’s not mean either.

S trim spec makes the most sense, with no immediately discernible difference other than a few missing toys compared to SE, HSE and the range topping First Edition.

As with most modern cars, there’s too much tech to list. Conspicuous by its absence is any sort of pioneering autonomous tech, aside from radar-controlled adaptive cruise control that also offers traffic driving. AEB, 360º parking camera and matrix LED headlamps are also standard.

Jaguar’s “most connected car” includes Amazon Alexa and HomeLink connection, as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, six USB ports and three 12V sockets too.

Unique to I-Pace is a redesigned TouchPro Duo system with sat nav that takes weather, traffic, climate control and charge into its calculations to provide relatively accurate charge level guestimations at waypoints and your final destination, alleviating some range anxiety. Not that you’ll have any, with the car’s impressive 298-mile WLTP rated range. What’s more, preconditioning can provide an additional 60-miles range in colder climes using grid power to warm the battery before setting off. An additional 30 miles range can be attained from the smart heat pump that scavenges energy from outside, even in sub-zero temperatures.

High and low regenerative braking settings allow for single-pedal driving or coasting as desired, although in high mode it won’t hold itself on a hill like Nissan’s e-Pedal.

F-Type bucket seats ensure a sporty but comfortable ride, which is silky smooth and our car’s air suspension managed to hide the 2,153kg weight well. Height adjustment can either lower I-Pace by 40mm for easier access, or +50mm for off-road driving – where it is impressively capable and has a wading depth of 500mm. The car also lowers automatically by 10mm at high speed to improve efficiency and stability.

Jaguar’s usual pop-up gear selector is absent; replaced by simple gear-select buttons. Prod “D” for drive and away you go. The I-Pace is relentlessly quick in a straight line, with 395bhp and 512lb.ft that’s hardly surprising. What is surprising, is it’s also quick around corners thanks to much of its weight being kept low in the chassis, giving a centre of gravity 113mm lower than that of an F-Pace. The result is SUV looks with sports car handling.

The I-Pace is an impressive electric vehicle but a normal car and perhaps that’s Jaguar’s greatest achievement here. However, with its high asking price and lack of dedicated infrastructure, TCO will play a larger role than usual for any fleet decision.

What we think

First and foremost, this is an excellent electric car with ride, handling and performance to match the best of them. With its useful real-world 300-mile range and low TCO, the I-Pace should appeal to fleets in a way conventional Jaguar’s cannot. However, EV infrastructure may prove to be Jaguar’s biggest sales hurdle.

Fleet Fact

High or low regenerative braking allows single-pedal driving or more conventional coasting.

Highlights

  • 298-mile WLTP rated range easily achievable
  • 100kW charge rate allows 60 miles range in 15 minutes
  • 0-62mph acceleration takes 4.8 seconds
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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.