First things first: The Jaguar I-PACE looks like no other car. It appears massive and long, yet agile and elegant. I spent a weekend with it, covering more than 1,000 km in this all new, all electric feline. Having seen it from all angles, its design still catches me off guard, and I think I like that. Oh, and the I-PACE is simply great to be on the road in. There is however one big let-down in this story.
The door handles popped out, I opened the door and instinctively ran my eyes over the exquisite interior before entering. Depending on the optional active air suspension setting, the door sill sits noticeably high, adding to the sensation of being elevated off mother earth. The leather seat welcomed me like an old friend, and the seat’s numerous adjustment abilities let me get it just so.
The centre console is intuitively laid out and looks suitably elegant, noticing especially the lovely grip surface of the ventilation adjustment wheels. The menu system requires a bit more getting used to, though, as some of the categories are somewhat unclear as to what tasks they might handle. The buttons on the right-hand side of the steering wheel deal mainly with cruise control, and does so brilliantly, but the multi-function wheel button on the left-hand side appear to be a bit of a mystery. It might hide a plethora of handy things, but I failed to wield its powers.
I pushed the start button and set off. You should expect an electric car to be quieter than one running on dinosaur essence, but Jaguar have gone the extra mile to allow you to enjoy even the most pianissimo music from that satisfying Meridian audio system. My travel plan was to head out from Stavanger, drive through Jutland and visit Germany. Before heading abroad, I picked up two friends who had happily volunteered to act as guinea pigs for the passenger experience. We then boarded the ferry bound for Denmark, leaving the I-PACE to its own devices at the car deck.
The dealer who kindly lent me the car was curious to see how the I-PACE would fare at highway speeds, especially with regards to range. The factory claims a recently adjusted WLTP range of 470 km, which made me think we might be able to reach our stop-over just north of the German border without charging, bearing in mind we had roughly 300 km to drive from the ferry. What I hadn’t given enough emphasis, though, was the increased air resistance at highway speeds. As the I-PACE hummed along at 130 km/h, I soon realised that we would need to replenish the battery along the way.
We stopped for breakfast after an hour’s drive, and found a charging station. Here started the let-down, yet the I-PACE was not to blame. Charging your car on the road should be as easy as filling up your petrol tank, except it isn’t. Not by far. We all know it takes more time, that’s just how it is with the current technology. But why, oh why must there be several different charging plugs, different charging speeds and different proprietary payment methods? It’s not as easy as finding a charging station, you also need to figure out if it’s a match for your car’s socket and if it can offer the charging speed you’d like. But wait, it’s not the provider I already have prepaid at… The EV world is still in its early days, so I hope that before long, the powers that be take charge and let us visit any charging station to fast charge our electric cars by charging our credit cards.
The back seat passenger reported that the roof wing and rear wing caused a certain amount of noise at speed and that, although the seats and interior in general provided a comfortable setting, the leg room left him wanting. The I-PACE has a long wheel base, which might imply ample back seat room. However, the sizeable luggage compartment shows that Jaguar had other priorities in mind. For a family with young children, the I-PACE would be the perfect means of transportation, as far as I can see.
Another friend joined us, and we headed to Germany. Not the Autobahn way, though. We found our way south following local roads, taking in the scenery and the simply great ride of the I-PACE. All of a sudden, we were rolling along on cobblestones in what looked like a street from the olden days. It might not come as a surprise, but to our right was one of the Danish royal castles. Despite the age difference, the Jaguar felt right at home. Back out on the open roads, I continued to enjoy the way the I-PACE behaved, especially in the curves. The substantial mass of the car is cleverly disguised by what appears to be a brilliant air suspension.
There is one particular quality about the I-PACE that never gets old: The acceleration. Due to the magic way an electric motor works, it will always offer full torque. Propelling a large, two-ton luxury SUV from stationary to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds in relative quietness is a sure-fire way of making people doubt the laws of physics. Doing the same thing with four grown men in the car in just a second more is no less of a feat. And don’t think that things go sour after that – the I-PACE pulls smiles for the way it increases velocity well above those speeds. 400 hp and 700 Nm see to that.
We did the mandatory border shopping upon returning to Denmark, filling up the rear with roughly 100 litres of fizzy beverages, complemented by all sorts of sweet edibles. The air suspension most elegantly complied, and we continued north. My calculations from the drive showed that air resistance at higher speeds is a major factor – at close to 130 km/h, the I-PACE will make around 280 km on a fully charged battery. At 110 km/h, this increases to a ~300 km range. Bearing in mind that the drive consisted mainly of motorway driving, the average range of ~315 km, although well below the ideal 470 km, was not too bad. Several hard accelerations also took their toll on the battery’s reserves.
My drive was not typical for daily use, which was also never the intention. I wanted to see how a full-size electric SUV would fare on a longer journey, and my expectations for a pleasant drive were met, and then some. The I-PACE is simply an excellent way of getting around. However, it, and any other EV, for that matter, suffers from a cumbersome charging infrastructure, which of course will not be as apparent with a domestic charging point. I have no doubt that the I-PACE will be the pride and joy of the vast majority of its custodians.