Jaguar’s I-Pace hits a sweet spot

For this year’s Monterey Car Week, Jaguar offered up its latest all-electric vehicle, the I-Pace, so that we could make it across the peninsula, into Carmel Valley for The Quail, and along Highway 68 to Laguna Seca for the Rolex Motorsports Reunion. It was our first time driving the car and we left with a new appreciation for electrics.

The I-Pace offers 234 miles of range on a charge, which was more than enough to shuttle me, and occasionally some of my Hagerty teammates, around over the course of three days without needing any additional charge. Consider me surprised. We expected that being stuck in traffic with the air-conditioning on would sap the range—but it didn’t. The trip odometer counting up and the range indicator ticking down seemed to be in concert the entire time.

Though we never had to charge the car, owners certainly will. The I-Pace will charge to full capacity overnight using Jaguar’s home A/C charger. For longer trips or quick top-offs, public 50kW DC fast charging can take the I-Pace from 0–80 percent in 85 minutes, while 100kW chargers can do it in 45 minutes.

Jaguar I-Pace rear
Brandan Gillogly

Due to its unique platform and electric drivetrain, Jaguar had much more freedom when designing the I-Pace. Jaguar designer Julian Thomson noted that both the I-Pace’s long wheelbase—nearly 118 inches—and short overhangs hint at a long-distance machine that’s athletic and graceful. We can attest that its range is impressive, especially given its roominess and performance, and its handling was superb—although we admit that we prefer the styling of the F-pace. The Jaguar style is there, it’s just taking us some time to get used to the electric vehicle’s unique proportions. It isn’t a wagon, and it doesn’t look quite like a traditional CUV. Perhaps that’s a good thing for those that want to make a statement driving an electric vehicle.

Inside the I-Pace, Jaguar embraced the flexibility of designing around a new platform that was free of the constraints typically found in an internal combustion vehicle. With no need for a transmission tunnel, the I-Pace could have had a flat front floor. Rather than letting stray coffee tumblers and rogue handbags or sunglasses slide around down there, Jaguar went with a semi-floating console that allows for plenty of legroom. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine that too many modern cars take up precious cabin space with a bulky shifter and console that offers little storage, which is often the case in large cars and crossovers. That, or there’s a short console that only serves as a place to bash your shin, which is common on compact cars. The I-Pace avoids all those awkward ergonomics and provides a good balance between usable space —with a perfect road trip snack shelf—without impeding the driver’s ability to get comfortable. Indeed, the ample legroom and power seats were appreciated by our taller passengers.

Without an internal combustion engine to provide some white noise, the road sounds seemed a bit more prominent in the I-Pace at low speeds, such as the crunching of gravel under the tires. At highway speeds, the cabin’s sound dampening was excellent, exactly as you’d expect from a Jaguar. Also as expected from a vehicle with a roaring hood ornament, passing is a simple matter. With no need to downshift and instant throttle response, especially when in Dynamic mode, the I-Pace can rocket around slow traffic effortlessly.

I-Pace Cargo
Brandan Gillogly
I-Pace Interior
Brandan Gillogly

I-Pace front wide angle
Brandan Gillogly

While those brief highway stretches proved it’s a capable fast-lane cruiser, the electric car’s strong suit is in town, where the driver can put its instant torque and all-wheel-drive to use when merging. Even knowing that its electric motors produce 394 horsepower, the off-the-line punch is surprising and instantly rewarding. Some of our passengers were startled by being pressed back into their seats when leaving from a stop light without a hint of wheelspin. The only sound is the increasing frequency heard as the motors spin up. Jaguar claims 0–60 in 4.5 seconds. We’d have guessed it was quicker.

For those looking for a luxury daily driver, the I-Pace delivers on practicality. Second-row passengers have plenty of room, thanks to that long wheelbase. The wide-opening hatch reveals a cargo area that offers 25.3 cubic feet of storage volume behind the rear seat. That space is right between the rear wheel wells, so it’s not as wide as you may expect from a trunk or cargo, but it is easy to access and appropriately sized. How about up front? If you’re expecting a sizable frunk you’ll be disappointed. The I-Pace’s modest front cargo area under the hood could maybe squeeze in three grocery bags or a medium-size duffel. The bottom isn’t flat, it’s stepped, which reduces its usefulness.

Overall, we were impressed with the I-Pace’s mix of practicality, power, and luxury. If funky doors and a third row aren’t necessary, shoppers looking at Tesla’s Model X may want to give the I-Pace a test drive. It beats the Model X on style and starts at $69,500. In the realm of luxury electrics, that’s a bargain—and for now, it has little competition.

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