2018 Jaguar I-Pace.
2018 Jaguar I-Pace.

New Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV mounts big challenge to Tesla

THE electric car revolution is about to gather pace in Australia, thanks to the aptly named Jaguar I-Pace.

The sleek-looking SUV is the first of a wave of new luxury EVs designed to make life tough for current poster boy Tesla.

In 2019 Audi will enter the fray with the e-tron, then Mercedes-Benz will follow with its EQC.

New Jaguar managing director Mark Cameron says beating the German luxury brands to the punch on EVs is "a huge achievement for a brand of our size".

It is also a chance to change brand perceptions.

The Jaguar I-Pace is the first serious rival to Tesla.
The Jaguar I-Pace is the first serious rival to Tesla.

"Look back at the history of when Jaguar has been at its best … it's been at the forefront of design and technology," he says.

He says the I-Pace will serve another purpose by encouraging the roll-out of charging infrastructure.

"It's all about us being an accelerator of the acceptance of this type of technology," he says.

Acceleration is an I-Pace trump card. There's V8-like urge off the mark and the run from rest to 100km/h takes just 4.8 seconds, thanks to 294kW of power and 696Nm of torque.

More importantly, it claims a range of 470km on a single charge, putting it on par with some petrol SUVs and ahead of them in stop-start traffic.

The I-Pace has astonishing acceleration.
The I-Pace has astonishing acceleration.

The range has been estimated using new "real-world" test criteria, although Jaguar says a fully loaded model with the aircon blasting is more likely to end up with roughly 415km of range.

This cutting-edge technology comes at a cost. The I-Pace starts at $119,000 for the S, climbing to $130,200 for the SE and $140,800 for the HSE.

A fully loaded "First Edition" is available for $159,700. Of the 60 cars already on the order books, about 15 per cent are the launch edition, but the SE is likely to be the volume seller.

The S version has some disappointing omissions for a car with a price north of $100,000, among them an auto opening tailgate. Real leather costs more and active cruise control with high-speed autonomous emergency braking and blind spot warning are part of a $1740 option pack.

The base model misses out on key standard safety equipment.
The base model misses out on key standard safety equipment.

As an alternative to the Tesla Model X, though, it's more than competitive.

Standard fare includes a high-definition centre screen and a configurable digital readout in front of the driver, two-zone aircon, satnav and wi-fi hotspot.

Safety gear includes traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist and a "clear exit monitor" that helps when pulling out into traffic.

The cabin can be pre-warmed or cooled while it's still plugged into the wall, so you don't waste valuable battery life.

Jaguar expects customers to do 90 per cent of their charging at home and is selling a wall charger from $2280 that will give you roughly 35km of range for each hour plugged in, compared with 11km an hour for a standard household power point.

The I-Pace has the versatility of a standard SUV.
The I-Pace has the versatility of a standard SUV.

For long distance travellers, Jaguar says there are roughly 150 charging stations around the country and the number is growing. The available technology can replenish about 270km of the range in one hour at a cost of $5.70 per 100km.

On the road

Behind the wheel, the Jaguar has all the wow factor of a Tesla and more. The cabin is beautifully presented with quality materials and modern finishes, complemented by crystal clear, high-definition readouts.

The I-Pace cabin is a truly luxurious space with soft touch materials and HD displays.
The I-Pace cabin is a truly luxurious space with soft touch materials and HD displays.

Leg and headroom are on par with mid-size SUVs and luggage space is decent.

The acceleration is neck-snapping off the mark, thanks to the instant torque and all-wheel drive traction created by an electric motor at each axle.

Extensive use of aluminium panels means the I-Pace is much lighter than a Tesla, translating to a more nimble car through the bends.

You can still feel the weight of the car through tighter corners but precise steering and impressive grip mean it's genuinely enjoyable to drive.

Jaguar has 150 charging stations around the country.
Jaguar has 150 charging stations around the country.

With the standard suspension the ride can get a bit fidgety over pockmarked roads but overall it's a good blend of luxury and sportiness. The optional air suspension delivers a noticeably smoother ride over rough roads.

Regenerative braking means you can accelerate and slow simply by pressing and lifting off the accelerator. It takes some getting used to, especially in the more aggressive braking setting, but after a while it becomes intuitive.

The range claims appear realistic. On a hot day, with plenty of hills, highway driving and the odd accidental detour, the I-Pace delivered pretty close to its 400km promise.

Despite its heavy weight the I-Pace still an enjoyable drive, even through corners.
Despite its heavy weight the I-Pace still an enjoyable drive, even through corners.

Verdict 3.5/5

The I-Pace is the best luxury electric vehicle on the market, if you can afford it.

Silent alarm

Jaguar's new I-Pace emits a sound at up to 20km/h to warn vulnerable road users of its approach. The technology, tested in the United Kingdom by Guide Dogs for the Blind, emits an alert from a speaker behind the front grille. Engineers initially tried to mimic the sound of spaceships in sci-fi films but that idea was shelved because pedestrians reacted by looking at the sky rather than the road as the car neared.

Jaguar I-Pace vitals

Price: $119,000-$159,700

Service/warranty: 5 years' free service, 5 yrs/200,000km warranty

Engine: 2 electric motors, 90kWh lithium-ion battery, 294kW/696Nm

Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, driver monitor, lane keep assist, rear traffic monitor and 360 degree parking camera

Thirst: 220Wh/km

Spare: None; repair kit

Boot: 656L



Plans for sand quarry revealed

premium_icon Plans for sand quarry revealed

Projects prompt business to look at Bucca site for materials

Rental market heating up for Bundy

premium_icon Rental market heating up for Bundy

Things are on the up for investors - not for renters

Local Partners