Luxury Cars – Jaguar Land Rover’s first electric car – our verdict on what it is like to drive
There’s no doubt the world’s car makers are on the journey to electrification.
It’s a long road – and an expensive one for the companies involved – but it’s a road that must be taken and there’s no turning back.
The shift from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric power represents one of the most seismic shifts in the automotive industry in its history.
Some car makers are further along that road than others and it’s a road that one car maker (Tesla) has taken exclusively.
The fact Tesla is now the most valuable car maker in the world, while at the same time being one of the youngest, speaks volumes.
Spending the billions that is required poses a challenge for a company like Jaguar Land Rover.
It might be Britain’s biggest car maker but it is small in global terms.
So far it has just one all electric model in the shape of the Jaguar I-Pace but it’s fair to say it’s a good one.
The I-Pace has won multiple awards – and deservedly so.
For a start it looks fabulous. It’s an SUV but it manages to combine added height and stature with coupe styling sublimely, in a way that no other manufacturer has yet managed.
Striking good looks
I recall seeing prototypes on the road locally before its launch and being gobsmacked by its striking good looks.
But looks are just part of the I-Pace’s appeal and its essential USP is that it is Jaguar Land Rover’s first EV.
It isn’t cheap but EVs involve paying a premium anyway over ICE models and the I-Pace is also very much in the luxury car bracket anyway – irrespective of its electric credentials.
If you’ve never driven an electric car before it’s surprisingly simply and the I-Pace is no exception.
Electric cars are simple in that they have less moving parts than their ICE counterparts.
Batteries might by big and heavy and complex to research, engineer and develop and manufacture but once in a car they work in a pretty straightforward way.
The battery powers the electric motor which delivers power to the wheels without a lot of the traditional mechanical processes involved.
In simple terms what this means is that power is both potent and instant.
Put your foot down on the accelerator and you will be astonished at just how quick the I-Pace is.
It’s the same in any electric car but some are quicker than others it’s fair to say and the I-Pace is one of them.
My electric car astonishment was first experienced in a Tesla Model S some years back. Driving it put a big smile on my face and it’s fair to say the I-Pace is more than a match for a vehicle which has come to be seen as the pace-setter in the EV segment.
As well as its blistering pace the I-Pace is also surprisingly good when it comes to handling.
It feels more like a sports car than an SUV.
Make the most of that power when cornering on a twisting B-road and you’ll be amazed at just how flat, composed and sure-footed it feels – to the point where it seems to almost defy the laws of physics.
Any would-be buyers of electric vehicles tend to be put off by a number of things. There’s still a slight feeling that this is next generation technology and that perhaps it’s best to wait a little longer until it’s better established and offers better value.
That is fast changing though and more and more people are getting switched on to electric power.
Yes, electric cars are more expensive and the I-Pace is particularly expensive but so is a Jaguar F-Pace SUV with a big petrol or diesel engine under the bonnet.
If you do take the plunge and go electric you can look forward to significantly cheaper running costs.
For a start servicing involves less expenditure and for a pricey upmarket car like the I-Pace, where similar ICE servicing bills might be expected to be high, it could start to make financial sense in the long run.
Then there’s the daily running cost.
Electricity supplier charges vary but if you’re going to be charging your I-Pace at home then you will probably pay somewhere in the region of £5 to travel 100 miles.
That works out at around half the cost of travelling the same distance in a similarly-sized diesel SUV.
Other EV issues revolve around infrastructure and range.
Range anxiety is an oft-used phrase when it comes to EV motoring. That fear of running out of ‘juice’ and unlike with an ICE vehicle you can’t just stop at a petrol station to fill up.
The I-Pace has a potential range of between 258 and 292 miles on a full charge, though perhaps it’s best to think of it as having 200-ish miles in real world usage.
So, that means that you couldn’t go to Scotland from say the Midlands in a single journey, though you could make it as far as Newcastle.
Infrastructure is improving constantly though and it’s now easy enough to plan a long journey that involves a short break for fast charging along the way. Bear in mind you’ll be paying a little more for your electricity than you would at home though.
Fast charging is also an option at home of course of you get a special charger fitted, though of course you can charge via a conventional three-pin socket, which obviously takes longer.
Ultimately travelling in the I-Pace makes for a pretty stress-free driving experience once you get your head around the essentials of electric motoring.
Going back to the car it’s easy to focus on its good looks, power and handling prowess but the cabin is also a pretty pleasant environment to be in too.
It’s also practical – its ‘cabin forward’ design theme and short front overhang ensuring there’s plenty of room inside. In addition it has a 656 litre boot with space for 25 litres more of cargo under the bonnet.
A 2020 refresh for the I-Pace saw the arrival of Jaguar Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment system which is billed as being as intuitive to use as a smartphone.
The system also features enhanced EV navigation which can show the driver if nearby charging stations are available or in use, what they cost, and how long it will take to charge.
Overall it’s hard to imagine anyone would be disappointed with an I-Pace. After spending a week at the wheel of one I was genuinely disappointed to hand it back and have to confess that if I had benefited from an unexpected and large financial windfall that week I would most definitely have taken the plunge and entered the world of electric motoring with a very silent but exceptionally exciting Big Cat.
Jaguar I-Pace 400ps HSE
Mechanical: 394bhp electric engine driving four wheels via single gear
Max speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Range: 258-292 miles
Insurance group: 50
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
BiK rating: 0%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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