The Jaguar I-PACE: A Compelling EV

The noise surrounding electric vehicles has been deafening as of late — especially with the recent announcements of Tesla’s “designed for PS1” Cybertruck and Ford’s “sure, let’s call it a Mustang” Mustang Mach-E electric CUV. But other manufacturers have been playing in the EV space for some time now, and to great effect, signalling that our automotive future will indeed be electric.

Jaguar, surprisingly, has a compelling EV all its own. We say “surprisingly” because, well, those classic memes about British electrics had to come from somewhere. But nonetheless, Jaguar’s all-electric I-PACE is one of the few cars we’ve driven this year that genuinely both surprised and delighted us.

As hackneyed as that “surprise and delight” phrase may be, there’s nothing unoriginal about the I-PACE. Its design is the only one that successfully straddles that line between SUV and sports coupe. And more importantly, its lines are sleek, elegant, and unmistakably Jaguar.

It’s also one of those vehicles that photos simply can’t do justice. Yes, we know that it looks like a compact CUV in these images. But in person, the I-PACE is big and packs serious presence. It’s dimensionally similar to Jaguar’s F-PACE SUV, and as it rides oversized wheels that have been pushed out to the very far corners, it feels even bigger still. Its stance, of course, is aggressive, and the massively ducted hood suggests that this EV is built to deliver some serious performance.

And that performance is, indeed, serious. The numbers: two electric motors, 400 horsepower, and 512 lb-ft of torque. Let’s throw some more numbers in here and make this feel like a math class: 0-60 takes just 4.5 seconds, total range is rated at 292 miles, and a 40-minute rapid charge can get the 90kWh battery from 0-80%. In other words, from stoplight to stoplight, this thing is about as fast as the mighty Jaguar F-PACE SVR.

In typical EV fashion, that 512 lb-ft of torque is available from 0 rpm. But where the I-PACE shines is how it accesses this torque as it moves. On most roads at mostly legal speeds, this torque remains instant, ready to kick in with just the slightest tip in of the throttle for superior passing power. It also makes those curvy roads even more fun thanks to the fact that it can shuffle this power around all four drive wheels. There are times we wish it had that SVR-esque growl as we take the I-PACE on more spirited drives, but if we’re honest, we’ll take speed and control over vroom-vroom noises any day.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the interior other than it feels like every other Jaguar/Land Rover (JLR) product currently on the market. Which is to say, it’s got the same full-glass cockpit, premium materials, and overall attention to detail found throughout the JLR portfolio. That also means that the same issues we’ve had with these glass displays — such as their steep learning curve and propensity to smudge — apply here, too. It may not feel like you’re stepping into the future here, but now that EVs are no longer a novelty, it’s nice to get inside one that feels like it was made for adults.

If you want those tech specs to bore — we mean “wow” — people with at dinner parties, here are a few bullet points, converted to sentence form. Jaguar has proven this all-electric powertrain with hundreds of laps at Italy’s Nardo high-speed ring and Germany’s famed Nurburgring. The I-PACE is approved to wade through 500 mm, or almost 20 inches, of water. Its panoramic roof is designed to absorb UV light, eliminating the need for a blind. Its intelligent GPS creates routes with optimized traffic flow and access to power stations. And it’s able to receive over-the-air updates, so like Tesla, the theory is that the I-PACE can improve over time as software improvements are found.

We’ve driven a ton of EVs in our day, but none have impressed us as much as the I-PACE. It’s a proper luxury sports vehicle that just so happens to be an EV, and it’s the first EV to turn us into fans. As much as we may lament the eventual loss of traditional internal combustion engines, vehicles like the Jaguar I-PACE show us that an all-electric future can, and will, be a thing of beauty.

Justin Kaehler
Justin Kaehler is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer, and auto enthusiast who has been sharing his passion for cars for over 15 years.