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Jaguar I-Pace 2020 review: S

The I-Pace was one of the first, but is it one of the best?

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

4/5

How many kilometres do you drive in a week?

Really, truly. Not just the distance you think you might travel – I’m talking the real average number. Do you drive to work every day? Do you live far from frequently visited relatives or friends?

If you answered "No" to the latter two questions, an electric car like the Jaguar I-Pace probably won’t give you bouts of the dreaded “range anxiety” you may have heard so much about.

My weekly work commute, for example, comes in at a smidge under 160km when added up, meaning, theoretically, I could get almost three weeks out of a single charge on this Jag’s claimed range.

There is a lot more than just having a competitive range to a car though, so does Jag’s I-Pace keep up in an electrified world where it’s finally getting a bit of competition? I took a base-spec S for a week to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Sadly, as exciting as the world of electric cars is – it’s exclusively for an audience of deep-pocketed early adopters.

We’ve talked before about the painfully tall pricetags of the cheapest electric cars – Nissan’s Leaf, Renault’s Zoe, and Hyundai’s Kona – but when it comes to premium automakers, the pricetags perhaps hurt a little less knowing so much of the cost is just to build one.

Nevertheless, this base Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S we’ve tested here comes in at $123,814, and that’s before you start to delve into the always extensive (and occasionally necessary) Jaguar options catalog.

Our test car came with Firenze Red metallic paint, which costs $1950. Our test car came with Firenze Red metallic paint, which costs $1950.

Thankfully, the base I-Pace is a surprisingly generous offering right out of the box, so you may think twice about ticking any option boxes at all.

Standard are flashy bits, such as the touch pro duo screen consisting of a 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen and second configurable screen, a 12-inch digital dashboard (also configurable, but fiddly), LED headlights, flush doorhandles, faux-leather seating, and an eight-way powered driver’s seat.

The large 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The large 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There’s also plenty of your standard creature comforts which have not been forgotten or option-packed away, such as keyless entry, auto dimming rear vision mirrors, auto wipers, headlights, and high-beam control and dual-zone climate control.

That’s far from where it stopped for our car, which had $20,703 worth of options fitted, including the driver assist pack (blind spot assist, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, steering assist, freeway-speed AEB – $3970), 10-way adjustable electric front seats, heated rear seats ($3835), Ebony grained leather sport seats with matching interior trim ($2552), Firenze Red metallic paint ($1950), Premium LED headlights with signature DRL ($1794), Auto dimming, power folding, and heated door mirrors with memory function and puddle lights ($780), Black exterior pack ($760), power tailgate ($585), headlight power wash ($494), public charging cable ($425), monogram aluminium trim finisher ($208).

Of that extensive list (which brings the as-tested price of our I-Pace to $144,517) what do we honestly recommend? The Driver Assist pack is a must, power tailgate proved handy on our test, and the public charging cable (even if it’s rudely expensive, you’ll need it) are the go.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Is there anything not interesting about its design? I’m not even really sure what the I-Pace is. An SUV is a reasonable answer, but the rear says hatchback, and inside you’d be forgiven for feeling as though you’re in some sort of luxe sedan.

While the I-Pace seems all flat and polygonal at a distance, details leap out the closer you get. The finely textured grille is neat, and the bonnet is not a bonnet at all, but an integrated spoiler with a storage crevice inside it. Cool.

The rear of the I-Pace says hatchback more than SUV. The rear of the I-Pace says hatchback more than SUV.

The same goes for the rear, with the seemingly squared-off spoiler actually scooped out on the inside to make for better airflow. This likely explains the rear window’s odd angle and boxy, upright, rear panel work.

Hop in the driver’s seat and there is a dichotomy of an admirably subtle dash design augmented with a sensory assault of screens. Touch pro duo is arguably a tad overkill, especially since the climate control dials have their own screens again.

Material choices are mostly excellent throughout the cabin. Material choices are mostly excellent throughout the cabin.

Nobody is going to argue this isn’t a futuristic set for your electric escapades, but I’ll admit it took me several days to figure out how to set everything up to my liking. The digital dash, for example, is configured by holding down the lone rotary dial on left side of the steering wheel, at which point this dial ceases to control the media functions and lets you start manipulating dash elements. Confusing.

Material choices are mostly excellent throughout, and I didn’t find some of the less impressive plastic panelwork which has appeared in some recent Jaguar models – it was all nicely finished. Almost everything apart from the metal and plastic had padded soft-touch finishes, which really adds to the luxurious cabin ambiance which you’d hope for in a car this price.

How practical is the space inside?

The I-Pace is large and while the inside is hardly full of practicality tricks, its sheer volume is enough for most daily scenarios.

The front seats offer plenty of leg, arm and headroom for occupants, and storage areas are plentiful, largely due to the absence of a transmission running into cabin space. As such there are neat little storage areas hidden underneath the car’s main controls, large cupholders with a slot for phones in the centre, and a deep storage box between the front two seats with elastic restraining points for loose objects. The door cards are clad in pleasant materials and offer small cupholders.

The I-Pace is large and while the inside is hardly full of practicality tricks, its sheer volume is enough for most daily scenarios. The I-Pace is large and while the inside is hardly full of practicality tricks, its sheer volume is enough for most daily scenarios.

Seat adjustability is good from the get-go with eight-way power-adjust seats standard, and a manual telescopically-adjustable steering column.

Ergonomics-wise, the dual touchscreens can be a tad fiddly to adjust while you’re driving, but thankfully essential things, such as volume and climate, are adjusted through mechanical dials.

In the back seat there was plenty of room behind my own driving position, and comfortable space for my 182cm tall frame. The comfortable faux-leather seat trim continues, and there were even heated rear seats fitted to our car. Amenity-wise rear passengers get adjustable air vents in the B-pillars, two USB ports, a 12v power outlet, as well as a small storage crevice and nets on the back of the front seats. A neat standard fitment is the clear exit monitor to stop you from opening your door on incoming vehicles.

In the back seat there was plenty of room behind my own driving position. In the back seat there was plenty of room behind my own driving position.

Boot space comes in at a great 656 litres, and there’s a small storage area under the bonnet for a charging cable, as well as one under the boot floor for the second, optional, ‘public’ charging cable.

The cost of this generous boot area is the I-Pace comes with a tyre repair kit rather than a space-saver or full-size spare.

  • Boot space is rated at 656 litres. Boot space is rated at 656 litres.
  • Boot space is rated at 656 litres. Boot space is rated at 656 litres.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

How much fuel does it consume?

The I-Pace has a massive 90kWh battery pack, as big as many Teslas, and larger than the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

This grants it an impressive range of 470km – large enough for at least a week of most average urban-commuting.

The range will, of course, depend on the kind of efficiency you get, and the 470km claim is dependent on achieving Jag’s numbers of 21.2kWh/100km.

There’s a small storage area under the bonnet for a charging cable. There’s a small storage area under the bonnet for a charging cable.

Over my week of mixed testing consisting of just over 200km travel with 50km of freeway driving in the mix, I couldn’t get below 23.5kWh/100km, curtailing my effective range slightly and placing the Jag among the most ‘thirsty’ EVs on the market.

Still, I had only used just over half the battery’s capacity when I returned the car with only a short mid-week charging session.

On the charging front, the I-Pace uses a European-standard Type2 Mennekes charging port with DC combo extension.

The main limiting factor for public charging is the I-Pace’s onboard 7kW converter. This means your charging speed is limited to 7kW, no matter how fast the public AC charging stations are – they're usually between 11 and 22kW.

Pulling up to a new local 22kW charging station and plugging in, returned a rather depressing estimated charge time of five hours and 37 minutes from 61 per cent. I didn’t think I could make my grocery shop last quite that long. Jaguar claims charging from nil to full will take 13 hours at 7kW or 43 hours from a wall socket.

The I-Pace uses a European-standard Type2 Mennekes charging port. The I-Pace uses a European-standard Type2 Mennekes charging port.

Teslas really take the cake when it comes to AC charging, with most having 16.5kW onboard converters, more than halving your charge time. Worth keeping in mind if you intend on doing longer trips or subsisting on AC chargers alone.

This problem can be overcome by using the combo DC charging, the trouble is finding them. There’s just a handful about Sydney and they range from 50kW to 350kW. The former will charge the Jag in just under two hours, while the latter will supposedly charge it in 40 minutes. I attempted to use NRMA’s sole 50kW charging station in Olympic Park only to find one Tesla using it and another waiting…

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The I-Pace carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks largely to the inclusion of up-to-date active safety features.

The all-important auto emergency braking (AEB – up to 50km/h) is standard on all cars, but frustratingly you’ll have to tick a rather expensive option box (that aforementioned $3970 driver assist pack) to get the full suite and higher-speed AEB functionality.

This pack rolls in blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, steering assist, and a 360-degree surround camera suite – so, as much as we hate the cost, we still recommend it.

Other standard features are quite impressive, like lane-keep assist, driver-attention alert, park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic-sign recognition.

The I-Pace also has six airbags, a bonnet airbag for pedestrian collisions, and dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the rear outer seats.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Jaguar offers the I-Pace with significant extra perks over the rest of its range, with an extra two years/100,000km of warranty coverage over the rest of its range, bringing the I-Pace ahead of much of the luxury pack with a total coverage period of five-years/200,000km.

The battery is also covered by factory warranty for eight years, and JLR are throwing in free servicing(!), roadside assist, and unlimited free charging via the ChargeFox network for the life of the warranty.

Service intervals are condition-based and decided by the car’s computer, so we can’t tell you how often you’ll need to take the I-Pace in. Service costs do not appear to be capped after the initial free five-year period either.

What's it like to drive around town?

Great, actually. Where the Jag excels is the silky smoothness of its inputs. Where Teslas can be abrupt, and the Nissan Leaf can be a tad sluggish, the I-Pace glides along with confidence and panache.

This goes both ways, even under harsh acceleration, the Jag dials it up just right, and when slowing down with the regenerative brake function, it also gently rolls down, rather than shunting you out of warp speed for daring to use precious battery kW.

There’s the argument to be made that this blasé approach to input controls is perhaps what is costing the Jaguar a few km of range here and there, and that’s fair, but I would argue it’s perhaps worth it for how smooth it is in an urban environment where sudden stops and bouts of acceleration are constant.

Our car didn’t have the fancy optional air suspension fitted, but still possessed Jaguar Land Rover’s signature balanced ride quality which I have become such a fan of.

The steering is on the light side and loses a bit of feel through its speed-dependent electrical assistance but suits the heavy I-Pace well.

When in the corners you can really feel this car’s weight, and how agile the I-Pace is, and that takes a bit of getting used to. All I-Paces are all-wheel drive, and this helps deliver its mountain of torque with confidence and immediacy.

The different drive modes do significantly alter the acceleration and regen braking, but I found the default Comfort mode to be the best balance of responsiveness and regeneration for around town.

If you’re curious to see how the Jag handles itself with mainly freeway driving, check out editor Mal Flynn’s range test here.

If you have deep enough pockets to even be considering the I-Pace all I can say is go for it. I can’t promise it will be easy to begin with, considering the limited charging infrastructure in Australia’s capital cities and the limitations of charging on AC, but this Jag has more than enough range to make subsisting on maintenance charging a viable prospect for most urban buyers.

Importantly, the I-Pace offers a much-needed middle ground between the futurism of Teslas and the pragmatism of Hyundai’s electrified range – not an easy feat given how early the I-Pace was to hit the electrified market.

We’re keen to pit it against the just-launched Mercedes-Benz EQC and soon-to-launch Audi E-Tron to see who is king of the premium electric SUVs.

$123,815

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

4/5