First Look: Jaguar’s New Electric SUV, The I Pace, Signals To Tesla That The Calm Before The Storm Is Officially Over

March 01--For several years, Tesla has led the global electric vehicle charge, proving that people will buy expensive EVs in comparatively large numbers.

If we've learned anything from Tesla, it is that an electric car must be easy to live with. It must provide hundreds of miles of driving range and recharging the battery must be convenient. Oh, and it helps if wealthy people think they're cool.

Tesla's monopolization of this segment is drawing to a close. An army of luxury-branded EVs is on the horizon, and the new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is the first of them to roll into showrooms, starting in the summer of 2018.

A pure electric vehicle, the I-Pace is a 5-passenger, luxury crossover SUV with standard all-wheel drive. It sits on a new aluminum-intensive vehicle architecture designed specifically for electric vehicles, and its underlying technology will no doubt be used in other Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in the future.

Pricing will be announced on March 6, 2018. In the meantime, know that when it goes on sale it will be offered in S, SE, and HSE trim levels, in addition to a limited-production First Edition version.

Room for up to five people or 51 cubes of cargo

Jaguar says the I-Pace is "virtually unchanged" from the I-Pace Concept vehicle, and says that the styling is influenced by the gorgeous C-X75 supercar concept. That might technically be true, but you'd need to really stretch your imagination to identify any common ground between the two.

Undoubtedly, the I-Pace is aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag measuring 0.29 cd. A short and low hood, coupe-style roofline, fastback rear styling, and flush door handles help contribute to this number, as does a standard air suspension that lowers the I-Pace by nearly half an inch at speeds over 65 mph. Active grille shutters open and close to facilitate cooling as needed, and wheels sized up to 22 inches in diameter are available.

The I-Pace's footprint is about the size of the Jaguar F-Pace, making it a midsize vehicle according to the EPA. However, due to its electric vehicle architecture, Jaguar characterizes the interior as spacious, larger than the official classification might suggest. A standard panoramic glass roof helps to make the cabin feel open and airy.

Luxtec seating (leatherette) is standard. Options include leather, premium leather, and a premium textile Kvadrat material made of wool-blend and recycled technical suede cloth. Cabin trim is rendered in a choice between gloss black, gloss gray woodgrain, and machined aluminum trim. Front performance seats are an option.

In addition to adding passenger space, the EV drivetrain allows Jaguar to supply nearly half a cubic foot of storage space within the "floating" center console. Tablet and laptop storage compartments are available under the rear seats, and the automaker promises lots of storage spaces throughout the cabin.

Cargo capacity numbers are unimpressive. Behind the rear seats, the I-Pace supplies 25.2 cubic-feet of luggage room. Kick some people out of the SUV, fold the rear seats down, and a maximum of 51 cu.-ft. of cargo space is available. These figures are comparable to those of subcompact SUVs like Jaguar's own E-Pace.

Multi-screen controls and artificial intelligence load I-Pace with tech

Equipped with a standard InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, the I-Pace is the first Jaguar to get this dual-screen setup. Lifted from the 2018 Range Rover lineup, it includes two high-definition touchscreens for operating most controls, a 10-inch screen up top and a 5.5-inch screen below. Capacitive switches and rotary controls help to make the system more intuitive, and wireless over-the-air updates keep the software in tip-top shape.

A new Amazon Alexa skill for the Jaguar InControl Remote smartphone app also debuts with the I-Pace. Using it, you'll be able to ask about the vehicle's charging level, available range, whether the vehicle is locked, and more.

Before driving the I-Pace, a battery pre-conditioning system can optimize the cabin temperature and drivetrain in advance of a trip, while the vehicle is still plugged in. An EV Navigation system optimizes driving routes to extend range by taking into account topography, and an Arrival Mode directs the vehicle to the closest charging station or parking garage near the actual destination.

Jaguar employs artificial intelligence to make the I-Pace more enjoyable to own and drive. For example, the SUV's Smart Settings technology learns your driving habits and can recognize your key fob and Bluetooth smartphone signal as you approach, configuring the SUV to your preferences before you get in. Over time, it can even learn to automatically prepare the vehicle based on the time of day, the location, current weather conditions, and historical behavior patterns.

Additionally, a Predictive Call List function learns who you call and when, and cues up appropriate contacts as it predicts will be necessary. An Intelligent Phone Reminder will tell you if you've left your phone in the vehicle.

As if that's not enough, a 12.3-inch driver information display is nestled within the instrumentation cluster to provide further access to the I-Pace's various systems, and this electric SUV is offered with an available full-color head-up display.

Big battery and dual electric motors provide 240 miles of all-wheel-driven range

According to Jaguar, the new I-Pace accelerates to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and can travel 240 miles on a fully charged battery. So, how does this happen? Let's dive into the details.

Equipped with a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery located between the front and rear axles, and twin electric motors at each axle to provide all-wheel drive, the I-Pace produces 394 horsepower and 512 lb.-ft. of torque. This makes the SUV quick to 60 mph, and provides a low center of gravity and near 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution for what Jaguar promises will be "sports car performance." Top speed for the Jaguar I-Pace is 124 mph.

Using a public 100kW DC fast-charging station, the I-Pace recovers an 80-percent battery charge in 40 minutes. At home, using a 230-volt wall-box charger, you can achieve a 100-percent charge in less than 13 hours. The I-Pace's battery comes with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty that guarantees it will retain at least 70 percent of its original charge and driving range during that time.

Regenerative braking is standard, and the driver can specify the amount of regeneration. At the system's maximum setting, single-pedal driving is possible. Jaguar uses an electric brake booster for this system to facilitate the adjustable regeneration and to improve pedal feel.

The I-Pace sits on a double wishbone front and integral link rear suspension. As previously mentioned, the standard self-leveling air suspension lowers the vehicle almost half an inch at speeds higher than 65 mph in order to make the I-Pace more aerodynamic. As an option, configurable Adaptive Dynamics variable shock absorbers are available.

Jaguar beats Tesla Model X 75D in terms of range and acceleration

In addition to the I-Pace's battery warranty, owners benefit from a slew of Jaguar Elite Care benefits, including five years and 60,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance, as well as five years of free access to InControl Remote and Protect subscription services.

No doubt, Jaguar will price this competitively against, oh, I don't know, the Tesla Model X. For comparison, the Model X opens at nearly $80,000 before factoring in tax benefits and incentives, and in 75D format supplies 237 miles of driving range while accelerating to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

Granted, Jaguar hasn't announced whether or not you'll be able to upgrade the I-Pace to make more power and deliver greater range like you can with the Model X. But given that Jaguar's research indicates that most people's routines require no more than 30 miles of daily driving, on average, it might not matter whatsoever.

Indisputably, though, traditional automakers are coming for Tesla. The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is just the first drop from the coming storm of EVs.


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