While most mainstream manufacturers at this year’s Geneva Motor Show were able to display concept cars pointing towards their imminent fully-electric, battery powered vehicles, Jaguar managed to go one better.
Its new Tesla-bashing I-Pace electric SUV was front-and-centre in production ready trim, complete with full specifications and prices, beating the likes of the Audi e-tron quattro, VW ID Crozz and Mercedes EQ C to the showroom floor.
Better than that, some of us got to drive it.
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The I-Pace arrives in Australia this October and Jaguar is taking orders with prices starting at $119,000 for the entry level model, or up to $159,700 for the better equipped First Edition version.
With two electric motors outputting a total 294kW of power and 696Nm of torque, claimed performance of 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds, a range of almost 500km on a full charge and a degree of off-road ability, it’s a tantalizing prospect for any prestige car buyer or tech-head interested in emissions-free performance and luxury.
2018 Jaguar I-Pace. Photo: Supplied
And here comes the kicker line: tantalizing is exactly how the Jaguar-organised test drive proved to be, with just a short run around some traffic cones in a cheerless car park adjacent to Geneva airport to get a taste for the new electric cat.
Even the cars themselves were pre-production prototypes, but if it wasn’t for stickers advertising that fact down their flanks, you probably wouldn’t know it. Build quality, interior trim and fully functioning electronics all seemed indicative of what we’ll see later in the year and it’s a very impressive effort.
In fact, possibly the major thing to take away is how painless Jaguar is attempting to make owners’ transition from fossil fuels to plug-in power.
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Despite its radical construction – the I-Pace is 94 per cent aluminium, with a floor made from a layer of 432 lithium-ion cells – it’s a five-door liftback SUV with plenty of rear seat room, space for five passengers and a reasonable amount of luggage room in the back or under the bonnet.
You want to know about performance and handling? Well, stabbing the throttle – or maybe that should be "foot operated rheostat” – while bounding from one set of cones to the next was evidence there’s plenty of effortless squirt.
The two motors are mounted between each of the front and rear pairs of wheels giving all-wheel-drive traction and, as with any electric motor, maximum torque is generated from just above zero rpm so that’s how it should be.
There’s no conventional gearbox, just a single speed transmission so all the driver has to do is stab the d-for-drive button on the centre console and then accelerate, brake and steer.
Jaguar promises the two motors are set-up to give a rear-drive bias to the handling balance but on the extremely tight test circuit, with special slippery patches to catch drivers out, the predominant handling characteristic was of understeer or front end push. That, however, is likely to be far less apparent on the open road.
The I-Pace is quiet at low speeds as you’d expect and although it weighs something like 2.2 tonnes thanks to a big battery pack with 90kWh of storage, it still feels remarkably agile.
The placement of the batteries gives a low centre of mass – Jaguar says 130mm below the larger F-Pace SUV’s – and being between the axle lines helps towards a 50/50 weight distribution. The battery pack is a stressed part of the car’s chassis for added stiffness and you’d better believe it has been weather-proofed, seeing as the I-Pace can wade through more than half a meter of water for those who want to try off-roading.
Jaguar is making a lot of the I-Pace’s connectivity with everything from a Bluetooth key that knows the driver’s preferences (such as radio station or climate settings) on start up, communication with an owner’s home-based wifi-control system and navigation that plots real-world EV range.
But again, investigating all that will have to wait for a longer drive.
2018 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 pricing and specifications
On sale: October 2018
Price: $119,000 plus on-road costs
Engine: Two synchronous electric motors
Transmission: Single-speed epicyclic, AWD
source : drive.com.au