The Jaguar I-PACE is the first all-electric SUV from a European manufacturer.
BY DAVID KEITH
In the 1950s, Sir William Lyons, the founder of Jaguar Cars, Ltd., came up with the sales slogan “Grace, space, pace” to describe their cars. Fast forward to current times and that slogan still describes the Jaguar I-PACE ($69,500; jaguarusa.com), the first all-electric SUV from a European manufacturer.
With 394 hp generated from its twin-electric motors, one at each axle, and 516 ft lbs of torque, the I-PACE handles the “pace” part of the equation with the lithe rapidity expected of a Jaguar. The sprint to 60 mph comes up in a scant 4.5 seconds, not bad for a vehicle that weighs almost 2.5 tons. Top speed is electronically limited to 124 mph. The SUV runs on rear drive up to 30 mph; after that, the all-wheel drive system takes over.
A few laps around the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve racetrack in Portimão, Portugal, confirms the graceful handling expected of a Jaguar. On pavement, whether on a track or public roads, the optional self-leveling air suspension and adaptive damping features keep the car stable, even under hard cornering. The lower center of gravity, aided by the battery pack under the passenger compartment, allows for quicker turn-in and better balance.
Off road, the I-PACE surprises with its capabilities. The vehicle can raise itself by 2 inches to allow for more ground clearance. With the massive torque available, steep dirt trails are easily handled; engine braking makes descents much calmer. In the event a river crossing comes up, the I-PACE can handle up to 20 inches of water.
Inside, the clubby interiors of yesterday give way to a modern setup, with three screens to provide car, navigation, and HVAC information. Discreet touches of wood veneer, however, keep the Jaguar traditions alive. Optional sport seats, heated and cooled up front, keep passengers comfortable and locked in place during hard driving. Overall the “space” aspect of Lyons’ philosophy is well handled. By pushing the wheels to the corners of the vehicle, the passenger compartment is set forward, creating more space for occupants and luggage.
The exterior shows the “grace” for which Jaguar is famous. The rounded grille and cat-eye headlamps showcase the shortened nose, while the raised rear helps with aerodynamics. The boxy look, resembling a jungle cat crouching, landed this year’s World Car Design of the Year award.
Jaguar did not stint on the electric side of the equation either: The I-PACE is a front-runner in the chase to catch Tesla. With a range of 234 miles, it can achieve 80 percent of full battery charge in 85 minutes when hooked up to a 50-kilowatt charging station. The regenerative braking system recaptures electrical energy on deceleration, enabling a drive around town without touching the brakes.
This admirable level of engineering has powered the I-PACE to another pair of awards from the World Car Awards jury: World Green Car and overall World Car of the Year. The Jaguar is also the first production EV to have its own race series, the I-PACE eTROPHY, an undercard to the FIA Formula E championship. With looks that blend Jaguar’s long-standing reputation for stylish vehicles, and an all-electric powertrain and suspension setup that provide excellent speed and handling both on and off-road, the new I-PACE gives “grace, space, pace” a powerful jolt of energy.