It’s safe to say that on the whole, I’m not the biggest fan of SUVs or EVs. Call it, my lack of forward thinking, my aversion to change, age, love of fossil fuel, to be honest, the list goes on and I’m probably guilty on all counts. But, if a fine, upstanding, motorsport ingrained, prestigious, British automotive brand such as Jaguar deem them to be worthy, who am I not to give them due consideration. Of course, I’m talking about the I-Pace here, however, Jaguar have been actively involved in SUVs and EVs for quite a while now – and doing rather well it has to be said.
Any medium to large production car marque not producing SUVs nowadays is essentially missing out on a chunk of the market that’s more sizeable than ‘cars’ and continuing to grow. I can sigh here but it won’t change the fact that the balance is definitely in favour of higher riding, multi-purpose, sports utilities. In 2016, Jaguar launched (to much acclaim) its F-Pace, a mid-sized SUV that had Jaguar style and their cool swagger to go with it. Immediately becoming their best selling model of the year and taking out World Car and Design awards, it was pretty obvious they were and still are, onto something.
This success was quickly amplified with the E-Pace. Nicknamed ‘Cub’, it’s the smaller, more compact (but just as cool) addition to the F-Pace. Probably now’s a good time to point out a somewhat confusing topic here, despite the ‘E’, this is not an EV, it’s a fuel injected, city-dwelling head turner but this does lead rather sweetly into the EV arena though.
Jaguar took to the Formula-e racetrack with their I-Type around the same time as the F-Pace was being launched. Now in its 3rd generation and capable of springing from 0-100km/h in 2.8s, this car and the racetrack playground have been described as a test bed for all Jaguar EVs, which includes the C-X75 concept and the I-Pace I have just been behind the wheel of.
Evidently born on the racetrack and backed by generations of Jaguar motorsport heritage, the I-Pace is no ordinary BEV SUV. Boasting near perfect 50/50 weight distribution (thanks to it having two permanent magnet synchronous motors, one on each axle and the battery weight built into the chassis, low to the ground), the I-Pace is more like a performance car with the benefits of having SUV space.
The I-Pace has the flow and looks that are more akin to a car than a SUV. When the suspension isn’t elevated to tackle off-road terrain (which I’ve yet to experience), it has the face of the C-X75 and a very aerodynamic body (0.29cd) to match plus it comes with striking 22-inch wheels that have been created from alloy and carbon.
Giving around 470km of range, the 90kwh battery powers the motors which in turn delivers 400PS (294kW to us) and a HUGE 700Nm of torque to those big paws I just mentioned. The 0-100km/h time of 4.8s seems even quicker thanks to the instant torque and all-wheel-drive system.
The interior is ultra-modern, yet has a sense of conventional premium to it, with technology, high-gloss, touchscreens and leather all combining to form a gloriously welcoming cockpit. It’s spacious too, 656L of luggage space at the rear and room for five.
When in ‘regular’ motion, the silence still takes a bit of getting used to. It’s well insulated and comfortable, very little road noise and not a peep from the engine of course. However, finding some open roads, engaging dynamic drive mode and poking the accelerator gives you plenty of performance, speed and handling and a futuristic whine from the motors – unusual but very pleasing. When all is said and done, I (not as reluctantly as I first thought) really enjoyed my time with the I-Pace. It’s an involving drive that is both futuristic and yet somehow feels traditional.
In motoring terms, SUVs and EVs are obviously hard to avoid and the I-Pace manages to bring them together wonderfully. Jaguar has managed to get the balance right, hitting a sweet design spot plus adding in performance and driveability. Now that its taken out European Car of the Year and even has its own race series, maybe I need to reconsider my attitude to SUVs and EVs, could be time to get my own balance right – hmmmm.