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What's the difference?
What sets the most iconic Jaguars apart?
Here’s a theory. Consider history’s greatest: the 1948 XK, its 1961 E-Type replacement and the first XJ of 1968. We’re talking about a grand tourer, sports car and luxury sedan respectively that broke ground in each of their segments.
Despite being a sales disappointment, let’s add the 2018 I-Pace to this elite group.
Like the others, it was a pioneer, this time in the luxury electric vehicle (EV) SUV field, beating most competitors and seemingly influencing newer ones ever since, from the excellent Kia EV6 to the coming Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV.
Now, five years and a comprehensive update later, we revisit the 2023 I-Pace to see if it’s still a standout.
The Land Rover Discovery is a bit of a classic with 4WDers – and while it’s never attracted a massive and passionate fanbase like its hard-core stablemate, the Defender, it’s done okay for itself.
There used to be a clear distinction between the Discovery and the Defender. The Discovery was always your Landie of choice if you were after a luxurious smooth-riding 4WD, while the Defender was a gruff, rough-riding, hard-core adventure machine.
Well, with the new Defender being so refined, so well-appointed, so comfortable and so nice to drive – it’s almost like a Discovery in disguise – is the 22MY Discovery even relevant any more?
More importantly, does it make sense as your next seven-seat 4WD wagon?
In the 1960s Jaguar used to promote its range as providing “grace, space and pace”. Nowadays, the I-Pace may as well also be known as the I-Grace and I-Space, because all three terms still ring true.
Jaguars were never cheap but the greatest hits felt like exceptional value because they were special. The same applies here. Five years might seem like an eternity, but age has not yet wearied the British luxury EV SUV nearly as much as you might imagine. Especially when optioned up as per our test vehicle.
Bereft of any post-modern brand baggage, the I-Pace remains a modern great. If only more buyers would catch on to that.
The Land Rover Discovery D300 S is a great family-friendly 4WD wagon.
It’s quiet, refined, and supremely well appointed; it’s also very nice to drive on-road and it’s a lot of fun – and very capable – off-road.
It’s packed full of driver-assist tech and its Pivi Pro system is a real treat to use once you’ve mastered the art, which doesn’t take long.
But you could say all of those same things about the new Defender.
Five years on, from the bold cab-forward silhouette to the high-riding crossover proportions, the I-Pace is a distinctive and handsome machine, offering progressive, flowing aerodynamics that have as much to do with function as they do with form. This is an out and proud EV.
But there’s the rub. Perhaps the disappointing sales reception is down to it being too removed from what many consumers might expect a Jaguar to look like.
Grille-aside, there isn’t enough connection with stablemates like the woefully-underrated XE or F-Pace, while traditionalists – many of them Americans – wanting classic XJ or XK retro schtick are also plum out of luck. Cover the badge and the styling could be from any (forward-thinking) carmaker.
Or maybe it’s because the I-Pace, whose body is 94 per cent aluminium to help offset the weight of the batteries, looks compact in photos, like a crossover hatchback, when in reality it is surprisingly large, belying its sleek styling by packing in plenty of space inside.
Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look.
As always, I’ll avoid waxing lyrical about the styling of a vehicle – suffice to say, it looks good.
Yes, compared to the vast mega screens invading most new models of today, the I-Pace’s dashboard layout is looking, well, off the pace. On first glance at least, this is definitely a product of the previous decade.
But as far as design elegance and functionality are concerned, Jaguar seems to have created a timeless piece of crafted automotive interior architecture that – consequently – holds up very well.
Or, in other words, the I-Pace provides a welcome sanctuary away from the infuriating folly of today’s faddish, fiddly and infuriatingly distracting touchscreen interiors. Maybe some old-school XJ smarts live on in this EV after all.
Look past the dated dashboard design, and the cabin’s overriding impression is of solidity and quality. No cheap plastics or rough surfaces here, just restrained luxury.
While electronic displays with very-analogue-style dial options amid digital driving data take care of the instrumentation ahead of the driver, a modestly-sized touchscreen is set at a lower plain so as to not dazzle and distract the job of vehicle controlling with data-overload, while under that is smaller display for climate control. More on that later.
The interior has a real premium feel about it, but it still serves as a very practical space.
Unveiled for the 2021 model year elsewhere but finally released just this year in Australia, the updated I-Pace EV400 (denoting the maximum power output in braked horsepower) brings minor visual changes, but more important ones underneath, too.
Most noteworthy are a larger onboard charger (from 7.0kW to 11kW) to substantially increase charging times, an advanced new-from-the-ground-up multimedia system, improved climate control, better surround-view camera options including integration with the rear-view mirror (dubbed 'ClearSight') and wireless charging updates.
They help smother some of the Austrian-built Jaguar EV’s wrinkles against a growing army of fresher alternatives, including the EV6, Audi e-tron (soon to gain the Q8 prefix), BMW iX, Lexus RZ and Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Other goodies included a fixed panoramic roof ($3580), adaptive dampers ($2405), four-zone climate control ($1820), carbon-fibre trim finish ($1521), that ClearSight rear-view mirror ($1131), full-colour HUD ($1040), Privacy Glass ($845) and no-cost 'premium textile' (non-animal derived) upholstery.
The point is, to specify your I-Pace to what you see in our images, you’ll need to add nearly $20K to an already hefty starting price.
This is par-for-the-course for most premium brands, though paying extra for cupholders, a HUD and rear-seat climate control when some carmakers include them seems mean at these prices.
For reference, this Discovery D300 S has a price-tag of $101,875* (plus on road costs).
As standard, the seven-seat Discovery’s list of features is considerable, as it should be at this price-point, and includes a 11.4-inch Pivi Pro multi-media touchscreen (like an all-in-one vehicle operating system, but more about it later), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, fixed sunroofs, 3D Surround Camera, height-adjustable air suspension, 20-inch five-split-spoke, gloss silver wheels, and a whole lot of driver-assist tech.
Optional features on our test vehicle include Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack ($3970, twin-speed transfer box (high/low range), All Terrain Progress Control, Terrain Response 2, Configurable Terrain Response; Active Rear Locking Differential $1110; Tow hitch receiver $1000; Leisure Activity Key $960; Black Roof Rails $940; Privacy glass $920; Premium carpet mats $640; and wireless device charging $455.
By the way, the Discovery is available in a variety of colours including Fuji White, which is on our test vehicle, as well as versions of black, blue, grey and silver.
Built around a standalone architecture with no internal combustion engine versions, the I-Pace EV400 is fitted with two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors – one above the front axle and one located on the rear axle. Each produces 150kW of power and 348Nm of torque, for a system output total of 294kW and 696Nm.
Tipping the scales at 2226kg, this means the EV400 has a power-to-weight ratio of a very healthy 132kW/tonne, helping this electric crossover cross the 100km/h marker in 4.8 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 200km/h.
With a single-speed transmission sending torque to a motor on each axle, the I-Pace has permanent all-wheel drive.
Nowadays, the standard wheel size in the SE is 245/50R20, though ours was fitted with 255/40R22 – along with air suspension and adaptive dampers. These profoundly alter ride comfort. Towing capacity is 750kg braked or unbraked.
Ground clearance is usually 174mm, but with the air suspension, that increases to a handy 241mm in its maximum height setting. At speeds over 105km/h I-Paces with air suspension drop a further 10mm to aid efficiency. Which brings us to…
Those impressive power and torque figures don’t tell the whole story of just how well the Disco’s engine is able to punch this big unit along the road at a comfortable clip and – bonus – its chunk of torque, useable across a decent rev range, comes in very handy when off-roading.
With a 400V architecture, the I-Pace EV400 has the charging capability of most EVs, but not the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and 6, Kia EV5, EV6 and EV9, Genesis GV60 and Porsche Taycan/Audi e-tron GT fraternal twins, which have an 800V capability.
Under the floor is a 90kWh lithium-ion battery, with a useable capacity of 84.7kWh.
For AC charging, it uses a Type2 connector with 11kW capacity, or for DC fast charging, it has a maximum 104kW capacity via a CCS port. Both are located in the left-hand-side mudguard.
Using a 150kW DC fast charger, we added 200km of range in exactly 30 minutes. It cost us around $31.
For the record, AC charging from empty to full using a regular household socket will take nearly 44 hours, or 13.5hr and just 9.25hr if you have access to a 7kW or 11kW Wallbox, respectively.
Meanwhile, a 50kW DC fast charger needs 75 minutes to go from 10-80 per cent full, or 45 minutes with anything above a 105kW charger, as that’s the Jaguar’s maximum capacity.
Fuel consumption on this test was 9.8L/100km. That’s sound considering I did a lot of high- and low-range 4WDing on this test and the Disco is quite a hefty unit.
The Land Rover Discovery D300 S has an 89-litre fuel tank, so, going by those fuel-consumption figures, I’d expect an effective touring range of about 860km, but remember that figure includes a built-in 50km safe-distance buffer.
One of the great EV questions is just how premium brands like Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes-Benz can justify their higher prices, when comparatively inexpensive alternatives from BYD, Hyundai and Kia rely on similar electric motor tech.
Indeed, a Tesla Model Y Performance offers the same acceleration and a higher top speed at nearly $100K under our EV400 HSE as tested.
But then you snuggle into that opulent cabin, buckle up, and realise that – just as the original XJ changed big luxury sedans forever back in ’68 with its sophistication and lush ride – the I-Pace still sets the tone for luxury EV SUVs.
Push the D button and – even in 'Comfort' mode – the Jaguar steps off the line briskly. A long-travel accelerator pedal tune disguises the fact that the EV400 is actually sensationally fast, as it swiftly yet silently streaks towards triple digits in no time at all, accompanied by a dull turbine-like drone.
Yet our biggest gripe is the lack of greater single-pedal braking when lifting off the throttle.
A set of paddles to alter the regeneration braking force as per Hyundai’s set-up would be appreciated.
This is one of the single biggest giveaways to the Jaguar’s advancing years.
Still, as a hushed, refined, comfortable and forcefully quick luxury EV SUV experience, the I-Pace, with the choice options as fitted, remains a fierce opponent against newer alternatives. Especially from behind the wheel.
The Discovery is very impressive on-road. No surprise really as it has always had a reputation as a comfortable on-road cruiser – and it's lost nothing in this latest iteration.
It is a smooth driving experience: quiet, refined and you suffer little to no noise from outside intruding into the cabin.
The seats are very comfortable and supportive, and that makes it perfect for long-distance trips.
It’s not all good news: visibility from the driver’s seat is a bit pinched out the rear of the Discovery (due to its styling); there is pronounced body-roll through corners; the brakes are quite spongy, with a real delayed-action feel about them; ride is a tad harsh because you are rolling along on 20-inch tyres and rims, which is something I’m not so used to; and, the steering column is manually adjustable only, which I reckon is a bit slack for such a pricey vehicle.
Tested in 2018, the I-Pace scored a maximum five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.
It managed to do well in all four of the independent body's disciplines, especially so for occupant protection at 91 and 81 per cent for adults and children, respectively, while vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians) fared worst with a still-adequate 73 per cent rating.
Six airbags are fitted (dual front, head/side front and head/side rear outboard occupants), along with a raft of driver-assist systems, including AEB, lane-alert, lane-assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-collision monitor, rear-traffic monitor, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, driver fatigue monitor, tyre pressure monitors, emergency call out and traffic sign recognition with adaptive speed limiter tech.
Note the AEB operates from 5.0km/h to 85km/h, and functions in day and night conditions in all cases including cyclists and pedestrians. The lane support systems operate from 50km/h to 180km/h.
Additionally, you’ll find anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, as well as stability and traction controls.
No front occupant knee or centre-front airbags are fitted.
The Land Rover Discovery D300 S has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on 2017 testing.
As standard, its suite of driver-assist tech includes AEB, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking aids, and trailer stability assist (TSA).
Don’t forget the Discovery’s terrain response system, and front and rear diff-locks.
Additionally, owners will enjoy five years/130,000km of free scheduled servicing. These are at 12 months or 26,000km.
Jaguar says the EV traction battery is covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty, with a minimum of 70 per cent state of health.
The service plan applies over five years/130,000km (whichever occurs first) with a cost of $2650.