If there’s a car more emblematic of motoring in the 2020s than the Jaguar I-Pace, we can’t name it. Yes, we’re still around 300 days to 2020, but bear in mind cars are not developed for the year they’re released, but to be sold for at least the next half-decade.
The 1980s was defined by excessively excessive supercars, the 1990s by Japanese performance cars, the 2000s by four-door coupes, and the 2010s by SUVs.
And if it isn’t already clear from the Jaguar I-Pace, the Audi e-tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, the matter-of-time-before-it-makes-production Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo concept car and the Tesla Model X, the Next Big Thing will be the all-electric crossover.
And the very orange (Jaguar calls this Photon Red, go figure), very electric and very of-the-moment I-Pace checks every Modern Car Paradigm box there is… and then some.
Vaguely SUV-ish shape that resembles a squashed hatchback on stilts? Check.
Monstrous wheels (22-inch two-tone ones with cosmetic carbon fibre accents) that somehow don’t manage to look comically oversized? Check.
While the above elements should already more or less give the chaps at Jaguar’s HQ in Coventry, plus corporate masters Tata Motors over in Mumbai a license to print money, it’s clear the I-Pace arrives dressed to impress.
For starters, it’s able to operate at temperatures as cold as -40℃, which Jaguar says is 10℃ colder than other electric cars. For the uninitiated, the batteries in electric vehicles don’t like it when it’s too cold, with range and power going down with the mercury. Which should prove handy if/when Singapore experiences its next Ice Age.
But we jest. Anyway, the I-Pace genuinely does have a few aces up its sleeve. It comes swaggering in with a claimed range of 470km, which is impressive, to say the least. Its main competitors the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC have claimed ranges in the region of 400km.
Yes, admittedly range testing is done driving at the speed of treacle, driven by a wisp of a person wearing shoes soled with eggshells, and with the air-conditioning and stereo turned off. Clearly we fulfil none of the above criteria.
Still, judging by the way we drove it over two days, the dashboard’s range indicator projected we could get at least 400km out of the ‘tank’, which would last us a week and a bit on a full charge.
As for charging the I-Pace, we have to admit the current state of our island’s charging infrastructure isn’t the best, though SP Group is planning to have 1,000 charging stations islandwide by next year. A quarter of these charging stations will be DC quick-charging ones, with high-output 100kW ones charging the I-Pace from flat to full in around an hour.
Jaguar dealers Wearnes Automotive will even throw in a free wallbox charger with every I-Pace purchased, though the 7.4kW AC output of that takes 12 hours to fully charge the car. It sounds crippling, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, because it’s likely you’ll charge the car overnight while you sleep.
To further allay fears, the I-Pace comes with an 8-year/160,000km warranty on its battery (typically the heaviest and priciest component of an electric car), so if it fails to hold more than a 70 percent charge, Jaguar will replace it for free.
Now that those piffling practical concerns are out of the way, we can start talking about the I-Pace proper. In summary, it’s an exceptionally well-sorted car, which is even more impressive since this is Jaguar’s first stab at an all-electric automobile.
Scratch that. The I-Pace is flipping terrific, from a dynamics and engineering standpoint. It’s got a pair of electric motors powering the front and rear axles, it has near-perfect weight distribution and its batteries are housed in an underfloor tray, which itself is a stressed member of the chassis, contributing to its chassis rigidity.
First Edition cars (a $20,000 upcharge) also come with adaptive air suspension and 22-inch wheels shod with meaty 255-section tyres, so grip levels, coupled with the electric all-wheel-drive, means the I-Pace feels positively stapled to the road.
It’s more than likely you’ll run out of talent/road/luck (delete where applicable) long before the I-Pace runs out of grip or thrust. On that second point, the I-Pace is quick. Like seriously rapid.
0-100km/h takes just 4.8 seconds to arrive, which in the modern idiom is middling at best, but since all of its 696Nm is delivered virtually instantly, there feels to be a direct correlation between throttle pedal movement and forward thrust.
Needless to say, burying the pedal results in your eyes migrating to the sides of your head and your kidneys shifting position. It’s supercar-grade acceleration, except in the I-Pace there’s no theatrics from an internal combustion engine and its exhaust system, just the faint whine of the electric motors, tyre/wind roar and blurring scenery.
But doesn’t Tesla do pretty much the same thing with the speed?
Well, yes, but Tesla isn’t here in an official capacity, so it doesn’t really count.
But before you go thinking the I-Pace is merely about speed and handling, the better news here is that it’s practical. Yes, really, it is.
The rear bench in the I-Pace seats three with a generous amount of headroom and legroom, and the full-length fixed glass roof gives its cabin an even greater sense of airiness and spaciousness. And its boot will swallow 656L of luggage, though if you opt for a First Edition I-Pace, you’ll get 18L less, no thanks to the added gubbins from the adaptive air suspension.
It’s hard to find a weak point in the I-Pace, and we’re even fans of the way it looks, with its aggressive bonnet scoop and sawn-off rear end (that improves its aerodynamics). If nothing else, it cuts a striking profile on the road, and it’s fairly safe to say there’s nothing else that looks like it right now.
But if you’re getting the I-Pace, you’ll truly have to be one of the convinced, or be appropriately well-heeled, because prices start from $346,999, a cool $100,000 more than an entry-level F-Pace, the leaping cat’s full-sized SUV offering.
Monster sticker price aside, and because of the supercar performance the I-Pace is packing, you can expect to pay $5,802 a year in road tax, which is roughly analogous to a petrol-powered car with a 5.2-litre engine.
These are eye-watering numbers, though the comparatively low cost of electricity to charge it up and lengthy service intervals (2 years/34,000km) make up for that somewhat. Add to that how an electric car has relatively few moving parts and you can expect maintenance costs to just cover consumables such as brakes, coolant and tyres.
We haven’t actually gone to crunch the numbers, but from the way it seems, while owning an electric car saves you big in certain respects, its costs elsewhere are rather punitive. In the end, when comparing how much an electric car is to buy/run versus a conventionally powered one, we think it’s a wash.
ENGINE Synchronous electric motors, 90kWh battery
0-100KM/HR 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 200km/hr
FUEL CONSUMPTION 23kWh/100km
VES BAND A2 ($10,000 rebate)
PRICE From $346,999 (with COE, without options)