Jaguar's electric SUV doesn't boast the longest range, but this solid performer will only get better with next year's updates.
I had my reservations about the Jaguar I-Pace when I first drove the electric SUV two years ago. and there were parts of the experience -- such as dealing with Jaguar Land Rover's finicky cabin tech and driver aid electronics -- that I absolutely dreaded. Yet here I stand, following hundreds of miles of testing, fairly impressed with Jag's electric SUV.
In fact, it's on pace (heh) to get even better next year, with subtle changes including faster at-home charging and revisions to the infotainment. But for all intents and purposes, this Caesium Blue Metallic 2020 Jaguar I-Pace HSE EV400 AWD should be mechanically identical to that updated model. The low-slung, wedge-shaped exterior design -- the best look in this class, in my opinion -- is unchanged, as are the sport-tuned performance and the middle-of-the-pack range.
The I-Pace boasts standard all-wheel drive thanks to two electric motors -- one per axle -- that produce a combined 394 horsepower and 512 pound-feet of torque. The acceleration is super satisfying in that way that most modern EVs are; the near-silent surge reminds me of a maglev train, but with seating just for four and a 0-to-60-mph time of about 4.5 seconds.
Handling is also well-sorted, balancing the planted feel afforded by keeping its most massive bits -- the batteries -- close to the ground. Combined with nicely weighted and responsive steering and a ride that's just firm enough, the I-Pace is as pleasant to drive around town as it is on twisty backroads.
I'm not as thrilled with the I-Pace's uneven regenerative braking, which is sort of a smudge on the electric SUV's otherwise praiseworthy performance. I prefer to drive EVs in their highest regenerative braking setting allowing for one-pedal driving and improved efficiency around town. However, when lifting the throttle in the Jag's highest regen setting, the amount of regenerative deceleration I get is inconsistent. This makes it difficult to plan my stops for smooth city driving and leads to a few "yikes" moments where I have to hop firmly on the friction brakes. Even outside of the high-regen mode, the transition to friction brakes is occasionally jerky at low speeds, which is odd (and particularly annoying) because the brakes feel perfectly predictable and smooth at highway speeds or during dynamic driving.
Powering the I-Pace is the same 90-kilowatt-hour battery pack as before with an estimated 234 miles of range. That's still significantly less than the now 371 miles of the larger Tesla Model X Long Range Plus or the 326 miles of similarly sized Tesla Model Y Long Range, but it is a skosh more than the 222 miles of the Audi E-Tron SUV.
With regular home charging and more widespread fast-charging options, 234-ish miles is a decently sized reservoir of roaming for all but frequent roadtrippers. However, apartment dwellers who can't depend on nightly plug-ins will certainly appreciate the Teslas' significantly longer driving time between charges.
At a 240-volt, Level 2 home charger the I-Pace chugs electrons at 7 kilowatts, which works out to about 12.6 hours for a full charge from flat. Of course, the I-Pace also features a 50-kW capable CCS connection that can rapidly refill the battery up to 80% in around 45 minutes at a public DC fast-charging station.
Next year, the 2021 I-Pace's onboard charger will be upgraded to an 11-kW unit that should reduce the at-home charging time to about 8.5 hours.
All of my charging took place at fast-charging stations when I drove the electric SUV on a 400-mile round trip journey from the San Francisco area to Truckee, California -- where I drove the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Just looking at the GPS, a trip of this length should've been well within the I-Pace's range, but don't forget that traversing the Sierra Nevada mountains meant a 7,000-foot climb uphill.
I set off with the I-Pace at an 81% state of charge with 179 miles of estimated range. The first leg was a 91.8-mile trip to my first fast charging station just outside of Sacramento where I plugged in for 42 minutes to juice up to 73%, bringing my estimated range back to 161 miles. My destination was just 110 miles away so, eager to get going, I unplugged and hit the road.
However, this second leg would prove to be the most challenging, with the bulk of the 7,000-mile climb between me and my hotel for the evening. It was a nail-biter, but I managed to make it. Unfortunately, the hotel only had Tesla -compatible chargers, so I hopped back in the I-Pace and headed into town, arriving at my second DC fast charger of the day with 15 miles (only 7%) left in the pack. At 122 miles driven, that's a full 24 miles short of where I expected to be thanks to the extreme climb. Once again, I plugged in and, 53 minutes later, was greeted with an 84% charge.
After a day playing in the dirt with the TRX, I hopped back into the I-Pace for the journey home. That meant I got to go back down the mountain, arriving at my first charging station after 124 miles with a 42% charge -- 41 miles better than the estimated range. Another plug-in and the I-Pace was at 95% and 218 miles of range. Now on comparatively flat land and with plenty of range to play with, I was less careful with the accelerator for the last 89 miles home. I played with the various drive modes, tested the accelerator and braking and finally arrived with a 48% charge with 105 miles of displayed range remaining.
The Jaguar did a fairly good job matching its estimated range during the rest of my week of testing. A few hours crunching the numbers leads me to believe that my entire journey was only about 5% less efficient than Jaguar's estimated range, not too bad accounting for the losses of the climb and the gains of the descent. Obviously, your mileage will certainly vary depending on your driving style, driving habits and the topography of your area.
I've found Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro Duo cabin tech suite to be sluggy and buggy in previous vehicles. However, it would seem that the software has benefited from a few over-the-air updates since my last outing, feeling a touch more responsive than I remember. At the very least, it didn't crash a single time during my week of testing and standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is there for those who'd rather bring their own apps on the road.
The current onboard navigation software doesn't feature any integration with the EV systems, though it will let you search for nearby charging stations. This is probably the most compelling reason to wait for the 2021 model with its new Pivi Pro software. Not only should it be better designed and more responsive, but its navigation software will also include the missing EV features for locating, determining availability of charging stations as well as estimating cost and charging time. As is, InControl Touch Pro doesn't even fire off a notification when selecting a destination outside of the I-Pace's current range, so I'd recommend a bit of planning your stops and charging ahead of a long trip.
As a top trim HSE model, my example has all of Jaguar's driver-assistance tech, including full-speed adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, automatic emergency brake assist, lane-keeping steering assist, a 360-degree camera system, semi-automatic parking and more. It also includes creature comforts like a gesture-activated power liftgate, wireless phone charging and a panoramic glass roof -- which can be covered with an awkward removable fabric panel with fragile clips that seem easy to break or lose.
There are a lot of reasons to like the I-Pace, but the price probably isn't one of them. The 2020 Jaguar I-Pace starts at $71,000 (including a $1,150 destination charge) before any EV tax incentives or rebates it qualifies for. As tested, in fully loaded HSE trim, my example costs $84,276.
The price and estimated range work out more or less competitive with the Audi E-Tron. I'd give the Audi an edge where cabin tech and charging speed are concerned. But both pale in comparison with the range that Tesla's Model X offers for about the same money. EV buyers have been conditioned to think that range is the single-most important metric for electric cars and, for many, that means the Model X is still king. Now, if you don't need to drive 300 miles between charges -- and, personally, I think the 200-mile mark is a good balance -- the Tesla does become just a touch less compelling with its more spartan interior, higher price and worse build quality. There's also the Tesla Model Y, which is perhaps more closely matched in scale with the Jaguar, still offering over 300 miles for a lot less money.
In addition to Tesla and Audi, the I-Pace is staring down the barrel of more competition than ever in 2021 with the 300-mile Ford Mustang Mach E and Nissan Ariya, the 250-mile Volkswagen ID 4 and the 220-mile Mercedes-Benz EQC entering the fray. This is great for you, the consumer who benefits from more choices and innovation spurred on by competition, but Jaguar will need to stay nimble with its updates for 2021 and beyond to stay relevant in this rapidly growing class.