The Jaguar I-Pace EV400 is an electric high-powered rally car mixing SUV space, luxury, and comfort with Jaguar's good looks and refinement.
The best way to review a car in-depth is not to take it on a track or pootle around town for a couple of days, but to take it on a European tour and live with it. That is the only way to understand how well it will perform over the years and whether it is right for you.
With electric cars this is all important, particularly as electric cars are both the vehicle itself and the recharging platforms they depend on. It's all about the infrastructure, baby.
So we took the new all-electric Jaguar I-Pace on a proper tour of Europe, starting in Surrey and taking in the centre of Paris, Narbonne, Valencia, Javea, Collioure, Chaumont Sur Loire and then back to Calais for the return ferry.
The Jaguar I-Pace EV400 is a superb-looking car, handsome and classically stylish. A few clever design techniques have been used to balance a spacious car. It is large, but the bonnet is short, improving road visibility whilst maintaining a good 50/50 balance. The front haunches have some swoop while the roof slopes gently down to the rear for a pleasing if chunky appearance. Roof, windows and door lines all sweep backwards, like horizon lines merging in the distance to create an illusion of motion even when stationary. For a car that weighs 2.2 tonnes, it still manages to pose as a large hatchback.
The front and rear extend only a little over the 22" wheels, which gives you a good idea as to its road stability, turning circle and cornering. A fluted waist and snout nose brings to mind a panther, rather than a Jaguar, particularly in the Farallon Pearl Black paint job. Recessed door handles, privacy glass, a fixed panoramic roof, angular matrix headlights and snazzy rotational alloys add to the imposing and sleek exterior.
As well as looking pretty fabulous, the specs are attractive: two motors over each axle power a single-speed all-wheel-drive transmission, 0-62 mph (100 kph) in 4.5 seconds, with 400 PS/Kw (396 bhp), a 90 kWh battery, and a claimed range of 290 miles (220 in real life). Maximum charging is 100kW so expect to wait around 45 minutes for 20-80%, though 100 kW chargers are not plentiful in Europe or the UK, but we'll get to that later. Charging from home will take two nights or a full day from empty.
Jaguar gave the I-Pace a refined, modern luxury interior. Black and chrome adorn the steering wheel, dash and central control panel, with oodles of black leather and contrast white stitching. All solid and well constructed from high-quality durable materials. You feel cosseted and protected and there's plenty of space, front and back. It's not as high as the usual SUV, but you get the same legroom. The Recaro seats are genuinely comfortable over long distances, we covered over 3200 miles in what felt like living room armchairs with good lateral support. The cabin is well insulated too, not that there is any engine sound to drown out.
Drive, neutral and reverse are three chrome buttons in the central console, below the Start button just to the left of the steering wheel. There is a lower touch screen beneath the larger 10" infotainment screen that merges seamlessly into the dashboard. This houses Land Rover's Pivi Pro system incorporating entertainment, music, navigation, Bluetooth and CarPlay. As with all all-electric cars, you are reliant on that system to get you from one charger to another, especially on extended journeys.
The Pivi system works well by listing independent chargers and will map your route for you with recharging stops and times. But it's not great when it comes to Tesla chargers, and you want to use Tesla chargers. Independent chargers are not fit for purpose. At best they take half an hour longer, at worst, they are medieval torture, requesting app downloads, passport details, serial numbers of fiendish complexity, bank permissions, both before and during and identification of the nozzle. And that's if they are working! Plus that all depends on good Wifi, not something you can count on in rural areas. Luckily the I-Pace works well with Tesla chargers.
I-Pace usability is still the best. A mixture of easy driving and incredible performance, just what you want on a long tour. Powerful and fast on the motorway, with plenty of oomph for lane changing or overtaking. Put your foot down and you can beat most petrol cars in silent ninja style, apart from the tyres thrumming against the tarmac.
Braking is regenerative which is always satisfying as you know you're getting power back. Especially if you're a fan of Dynamic mode, which will certainly shorten your range. Stick to Eco for long journeys, it's potent enough. Brake bite is good, soft at first, then increasingly aggressive. After a day you'll be one-pedal driving anyway. Good drivers shouldn't need the brakes for touring. Leave them for the tailgaters.
Like most electric cars the batteries are in the base so the centre of gravity is low plus the car is not as high as most SUVs so the handling is terrific from the get-go. At higher speeds, it stays utterly sure-footed. This is a most confident ride. The self-levelling air suspension with adaptive damping manages all surfaces with ease and keeps the car level at high speeds around the tightest corners.
Most of all, it is pleasurable to drive; it's alive, responsive, eager and utterly comfortable. The ride position is ideal for long tours, the small bonnet and large windscreen provide excellent road visibility. It does not matter how good the car is if you can't see the road ahead and plan accordingly.
There are no gears, just that 696 Nm of torque available at all speeds up to the maximum 124 mph (200 kmh). So you glide along in a gentlemanly fashion, or if the urge takes you, pin your passengers into their seats, just to make sure they're paying attention.
The Jaguar I-Pace EV400 has genuine character, something electric cars struggle with. Mountain roads, city streets, country lanes, motorways etc are a joy. Smooth sailing for thousands of miles. This is why the I-Pace is so successful in Formula E. The best way to think of it is as a high-performance rally car with SUV comfort and space. Plus despite its subtle distinguished looks it still gets a few oohs and ahh from passers-by.
Next week we go into detail about touring in Europe on different charging infrastructures. The link will appear here.
Jaguar I-Pace EV400 Base Price: £77,595
Jaguar I-Pace EV400 With Extras: £85,000