The hybrid is so last year – the boffins at Jaguar Land Rover have come up trumps for 2019 with their battery electric vehicle (BEV) – the all new Jaguar I-Pace.
In one of the most audacious moves from Jaguar Land Rover, the team are pitting themselves up against the big boys of Tesla with what they hope will be a comparatively affordable electric SUV (search Jaguar I-Pace price UK and you’ll find a price tag of £62,925, while Tesla Model X 100Ds can range from £79,500 right up to the over £100k mark).
Is this the best electric car on sale? There’s certainly a lot of choice: we have the mid-range Jaguar I-Pace HSE, with standard 20-inch wheels, the baby Jaguar I-Pace SE and the EV400 S, and finally, the roaring Jaguar I-Pace EV400 First Edition, with a white knuckle 0 to 60mph speed of 4.8 seconds.
Be prepared for the Jaguar I-Pace First Edition to set you back almost £80,000, a figure that’s conveniently reduced by a government grant of £4,500.
It’s hard to tell whether the I-Pace is an SUV or a saloon (despite its marketing literature very much placing it in the former) but one thing is clear: it’s certainly smaller than the Tesla Model X 100D.
While the Tesla is a long saloon with dimensions of 5,052 mm L x 1,999 mm W x 1,684 mm H, the I-Pace is shorter, presumably making it more of a stocky SUV than a long sleek saloon, packing dimensions of 4,682 mm L x 1,895 mm W x 1558 mm H (increasing up to 1,665 for the height).
Understandably, this gives the Tesla a much bigger boot space at over 2,000 litres, while the I-Pace fits into the region of most 2018 SUVs, from 559 to 577 litres, or up to 1,453 with the seats folded down.
This puts the electric Jaguar right in the middle of the E-Pace and F-Pace when it comes to size. For everything else, it’s decidedly above average.
Social responsibility is the I-Pace’s middle name: as standard, it comes with faux leather seats, but there’s the option to upgrade to the slightly less Earth-friendly leather seats as we move up through the I-Pace trim levels.
There’s plenty of room in the I-Pace cabin, which is useful as there are three screens to navigate, as well as a few buttons thrown in for good measure.
This gives the classic Jaguar interior a less futuristic feel than the Tesla, but that doesn’t impede it in any way.
The I-Pace is every bit as modern with its gimmicky features such as the floating console, but it’s not overwhelming.
You’d expect to see the same sort of layout in its other Jaguar SUVs, such as the Range Rover Velar.
Credit where credit is due to Jaguar: not only have they managed to leave Mother Earth smiling, they also make the driver pretty happy too.
This is thanks to a supportive head rest, which is more comforting than it appears, as well as the perfect seating position for road visibility.
Though there’s doubt you’ll need to, there is the option to electronically customise your seating position – this is part-electric for entry level models, and fully electric for anything higher.
Passengers are not overlooked either: they have a sufficient amount of legroom, though like many SUVs, headroom is slightly less generous in the back thanks to the downward sloping design.
Unfortunately for the I-Pace, the infotainment system falls a little short – both the upper and lower screens rely too heavily on their touchscreen controls, which can prove distracting on longer journeys.
There’s the option to use the dials, but you may find yourself getting in a bit of a muddle on the first three or four drives.
Here you can access the mobile phone syncing options, the satellite navigation system and the media functions as standard, while you can also use the dial to help you select your preferred driving mode.
One funky little feature is the bespoke driver preferences. If you’re going to be sharing the I-Pace with other drivers, then be sure to make sure you have different key fobs: each one can be customised to the driver’s preferences for climate control and infotainment.
Anybody who’s even remotely interested in a fully electric or hybrid vehicle will want to know more about the electric range or CO2 emissions.
There are benefits and drawbacks to the I-Pace – a key benefit being the price, making long-range electric SUVs seem almost affordable.
Additionally, the makers claim – and we are dubious about this – a suspiciously high range of 298 miles. This is thanks to a lithium ion battery and a European WLTP drive cycle. (That’s Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, but you already knew that.)
The downside to the incredible Jaguar I-Pace range? It has a considerably longer charging time than the Tesla: it takes 12 hours to fully charge from a standard 7KW home charger.
The Tesla, by comparison, achieves the same range of miles in just 9.5 hours. In theory, yes it’s possible to charge overnight assuming you plug it in as soon as you get home, but here’s hoping you don’t have to commute 300 miles to work every day.
If you’re not commuting, then you might want to try out this baby’s top speed on the track: a very respectable 124mph which, incredibly, is actually faster than some of the lower spec Jaguar F-Pace models.
Its instant torque and all-wheel drive traction certainly give the I-Pace a sportier feel, packing 513 lb ft of torque and 394 BHP.
It’s largely aluminium and glass, making it more lightweight than the Tesla at 2,133kg. This, combined with its lack of gears and astonishing 0-60 speed, might make potential drivers a little worried that it’s easy to lose control of.
Thankfully, this is not the case – steering is reliable thanks to its low centre of gravity, which is 130mm lower than the F-Pace.
Of course, you can upgrade to the air-levelling suspension and adaptive damping, which make for an even more controlled ride.
When it comes to driving modes, you are spoilt for choice – not just in terms of whether you want to pull away gently or fire like a rocket.
Drivers can control the regenerative braking (though in reality, the brakes are a small combination of both regenerative and mechanical), and they bite effectively when the going gets tough.
Choose how confident you’re feeling with the I-Pace’s driving modes: if you know you won’t be out on the roads for long, then knock it into Dynamic, where you’ll experience faster acceleration and a stronger grip on the steering.
Alternatively, if you want to meet the dubious claims of 298 miles, then you’d be advised to keep it in Comfort mode, which by all means lives up to the name.
It’s evident here that there is some crossover between the SUV and the saloon – it’s a bit of a stretch to say the I-Pace is an off-roader, but the Adaptive Surface Response will adjust your brake settings depending on the surface you’re experiencing.
There’s even the option to adjust the sensitivity of the throttle, which can be a little cumbersome when transitioning from Creep mode to faster speeds, but otherwise is a welcome addition and innovative feature.
At the moment, you’ll only find one trim available, with a full range Jaguar I-Pace release date yet to be confirmed.
If you desperately want it now, you can get a Jaguar I-Pace lease on the EV400 with a starting price of £444.99, but we’d advise waiting until 2019 for your pick of the crop.
Certainly, in a lot of respects the I-Pace is no match for the Tesla – it cannot match its top speed, its size or its interior design ingenuity, but it’s a very bold introduction for a Jaguar SUV that opens the doors for a new generation of affordable electric vehicles.
What has let us down previously in our bid to become environmentally conscious is short electric ranges and long charging times – the latter might still be an issue, but the former is a vast improvement and a sign of things to come.
The I-Pace has all the makings of a classic Jaguar with its considerations for style and comfort, plus a long list of upgrades to satisfy every vanity-conscious motorist.
Yes, there may be some confusion over whether it is an SUV or a saloon, but that’s part of its charm, and arguably, adds to its “futuristic” exterior.
The danger with electric vehicles, of course, is that they all feel the same. This time around however, we’re feeling a little more confident in the team at Jaguar. Having only tested one trim, we’re excited to see what’s coming next for the I-Pace.