The latest entrant into the luxury EV space isn’t short on drama. Or accolades. The Jaguar I-Pace is an all-new kinda cat that hits some sweet spots.
If you thought driving around in a regular petrol-powered Jag gets you the looks, try spending a day in the I-Pace! The bold design is unlike any other feline-faced car on sale, and while it may share some of the angry facial features of its kin, it is full of scoops, bulges, haunches and rakes and even gets Velar-like flush door handles! Parked at a red light next to an F-type, it will certainly draw as many (if not more) eyeballs, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, there’s no denying that it is distinctive.
The large glass area all around is only heightened by the absolutely massive fixed panoramic sunroof that extends from the windscreen right up to the tailgate and before you fear UV radiation, Jaguar assures us that it soaks up heat and IR rays to keep you cool and well...alive.
Interior design is a fresh take too for Jaguar, with a floating centre console design and the Pivi Pro infotainment system. Thankfully, they haven’t fallen for the lure of a buttonless cabin and you get beautifully finished AC control knobs that integrate the temperature displays and work in a push/pull fashion, allowing you to also control fan speed and seat cooling/heating with the same knurled knob. Brilliant!
The I-Pace is peppered with other interesting tech bits, like the ClearSight rearview mirror that also turns into a display showing a live feed from the roof-mounted camera, only much clearer and brighter than the actual situation. As I learned, this works superbly in Mumbai monsoons, giving you a clear view of the traffic behind you and especially useful since the I-Pace doesn’t have a wiper for the rear windscreen. You do get a 360-degree surround-view camera option too, which the HSE test variant had, and while the resolution from the cameras is great, the stitching of the various cameras into a single, birds-eye view was patchy. Maybe an update should fix this glitch.
Even the dashboard design is clean, futuristic and functional with the tan leather contrasting really nicely with gloss black inserts and the matte aluminum trim pieces, adding an ambiance of quality that can be tangibly felt in every touch point. Behind the floating console is an awkwardly placed wireless charging mat that is picky about the size of the phone and exact position, but you do get both USB-A and USB-C charging ports all around the cabin to get from nought to busy quickly.
You’ll have to live without wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto though, which seems to be a serious omission at this price, but it’s not limited just to the I-Pace. I’ve been one to use a wired connection anyway for better sound quality, and the Meridian 3D Surround system here is just fantastic at immersing you inside your favourite tunes. Using the right amount of processing and speakers, it creates a cabin space much larger than the physical size would suggest and all this while keeping the timbral accuracy and timing of the music intact.
Of the three screens across the cabin, the smaller 5.5in HVAC control screen is the easiest to use, the non-customizable digital instrument cluster is basic, but clear and legible to use. The 10in Pivi Pro system is a work-in-progress or at least feels like it. It lacks the instantaneous response times we are used to in other luxury cars now and depending on the view mode, you might have to go through multiple taps before reaching your desired function. It does give plenty of information on the vehicle status, energy consumption, and impact of your driving style on the charge levels. Oh, and if you’re counting there's a head-up display too that shows basic info.
Greener but meaner
Unlike the Audi e-Tron, there are no paddle shifters here to control the level of regen on the fly. Instead, the I-Pace goes for a simpler, fixed two-way system that can be toggled between high and low. As you’d expect, keeping regenerative braking in High mode slows down the car when you lift off the throttle, almost as if you’ve applied the brakes! It takes getting used to and won’t work well in the city where the average distance between two bumpers is less than a Subway sandwich. You don’t want to catch the driver behind off-guard, do you?
Low works well in most conditions without too much of an adverse effect on the battery charge. In fact, battery management is one of I-Pace’s biggest strengths. Driving in the city for two days in various modes and admittedly getting a bit naughty with Dynamic mode a few times too, all I lost after 110km was 32% of charge. Jaguar’s claim of a 470km range might not be too far from reality after all! Charging options are many and range from a portly 48 hours on a home 15A socket to a quick, 1.5 hour lunch-break top up if you’re around a 50kW DC charger.
Surprisingly though, the I-Pace manages its throttle responses even in Eco mode without blunting them to the bone like on other EVs. Any of the modes – Eco, Comfort, or Dynamic are equally fun to drive but of course, in increasing degrees. There’s also active cabin sound which pipes a distant V8 rumble through the speakers to make you feel more connected. While it’s definitely not believable, it does help in acquiring a sensation of speed.
Considering how blisteringly quick the I-Pace is, you’ll be totally shocked at how fast you’re going in complete silence. The 90kWh battery makes about 400bhp and 696Nm of torque, numbers which propel the I-Pace to 100km/hr in less than 5 seconds! That’s proper sportscar territory in a luxurious 5-seater while remaining entertaining to drive in whatever mode.
Steering is direct and the AWD system grips the tarmac ferociously even when your brain is hitting the back of your skull under hard acceleration. It’s easy to fall in love with the responses of the I-Pace and even within the city, the complete ease of overtaking, thanks to the instant torque-on-demand nature of the electric motors is addictive.
At the same time, its ride quality is commendable too, never scraping its batteries on our savage surfaces. Air suspension with a lift function is optional and the I-Pace tackles broken roads like a boss too, never rattling itself or the passengers, making it a practical everyday commuter for a very green millionaire.
And that is what brings us to the unavoidable conclusion. At around ₹1.2crores, it fits right in with the Mercedes EQC and the Audi e-Tron, but anyone who can afford cars upwards of a crore seldom think about the fuel prices anyway.
So then, is your conscience and appetite for a little risk (range anxiety) ready to take the plunge to the greener, healthier side? Only you, or your accountant can answer that question but if you are attracted to the idea of EVs, the I-Pace is the most fun-to-drive and attractive option in India yet.