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EXCLUSIVE First Drive: The All New 2019 Fully-Electric Jaguar I-PACE

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【Summary】This past week, we had the chance to drive the new 2019 fully-electric Jaguar I-Pace throughout northern California before it reaches dealer showrooms later this fall. The I-Pace is the first fully-electric vehicle from the luxury automaker and one of the most anticipated new electric models coming out this year.

Eric Walz    Sep 29, 2018 1:57 PM PT
EXCLUSIVE First Drive: The All New 2019 Fully-Electric Jaguar I-PACE
author: Eric Walz   

This past week, we had the chance to drive the 2019 fully-electric Jaguar I-Pace throughout northern California before it reaches dealer showrooms later this fall. The I-Pace is the first fully-electric vehicle from the luxury automaker and one of the most anticipated new electric models coming out this year. Jaguar delivered the shiny new I-Pace with just 1,100 miles on the odometer and ready to go.

Even before taking the I-Pace out on the road, you can't help notice that it's a sharp-looking vehicle. Jaguar built an electric SUV that still retains some of company's distinctive touches both inside and out, while still standing out from the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. Our I-Pace attracted much attention, with many people stopping to take pictures.

To evaluate the I-Pace, we chose varied California routes including twisting mountain roads, and a scenic drive along the famous Highway 1 from San Francisco to the beach town of Santa Cruz.

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We also traveled south on Highway 17 in California, which runs directly to Santa Cruz from Silicon Valley. This heavily traveled road is dangerous, with 800 crashes reported in 2017, as drivers maneuver through its sharp turns, blind curves, and steep climbs. For Futurecar, Highway 17 was a great place to evaluate the prowess of the I-Pace.

So what's the range?

When we talk about electric cars, the first thing people want to know about is range. The I-Pace is equipped with a 90 kWh pouch cell battery pack providing 240 miles of range. The vehicle accepts DC 50 kW fast-charging. With this charging rate, it takes about 85 minutes to charge the battery from zero to 80 percent. Using the more common EV charging stations, it takes ten hours to reach the same state of charge.

How does it handle?

The electric all-wheel-drive system on the I-Pace delivers 394 horsepower and 512 ft lbs of max torque instantaneously. The torque is impressive and pushes you back in your seat. The I-Pace can go 0 to 60 mph is just 4.5 seconds, which is much quicker than most vehicles on the road.


The I-Pace we tested came with the optional 20 inch wheels mounted with Goodyear V rated tires, which kept the vehicle securely planted on straightways and winding mountain roads.  The I-Pace is available with 18, 20 or 22 inch wheels depending on the model and options selected.

Although the I-Pace displays a high level of refinement, the suspension felt a bit unwieldy over bumps and gave passengers an unsettling ride at times.

Three Selectable Driving Modes: Eco, Comfort and Dynamic

Drivers can chose from one of three driving modes, ECO, Comfort, and Dynamic. The ECO mode conserves battery power by limiting throttle response and electrical loads from the accessories, while the comfort mode is designed with softer steering and suspension for everyday driving.

Selecting the Dynamic mode is when things get interesting. This mode provides the driver with better control by stiffening the electronic suspension and steering feel and providing all of the available torque from the electric motors.

In our opinion, the Dynamic driving mode provides the best driving experience with a equal balance of improved handling and power from the electric motors.  

While the Eco option is designed to conserve battery power, one wonders why a sporty new performance electric vehicle from Jaguar even offers a ‘comfort' option because it detracts from the vehicle capabilities and tames the I-Pace.

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The dash has a gauge to "train" the driver to conserve battery power

How does it look? Cost?

Our I-Pace came in Fuji White paint with the optional Mars Red Windsor leather performance seating, a $2,400 option and 20" 5 spoke wheels with gloss black finish. The performance seats provide firm lateral support for spirited driving. Adding in the performance seat option, our I-Pace has a MSRP of $84,565, while the base model starts at $69,500.

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The optional sport seats


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The panoramic glass roof of the I-Pace

Among the luxurious interior appointments is a panoramic glass roof that stretches from above the front seats to the rear hatch. This panoramic roof was somewhat of a disappointment because it does not open and the glass is tinted to look almost black. In fact, it's so dark that it almost feels like there is no glass roof at all when sitting inside the vehicle.

In comparison, the Tesla Model X and Volvo XC90 both have a similar glass roof that lightens the interior considerably, while creating a sense of spaciousness in the cabin. In both of these vehicles, the glass roof allows passengers a clear unobstructed views while looking up.

What about the interior features?

Infotainment

Jaguar told us that the software for this press vehicle was still being tweaked, so some of the telematics functions were not available, such as setting up Android Auto. However, Jaguar did say that the production version of the I-Pace will have standard support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Another notable feature is that the I-Pace can download the latest software version via over-the-air updates.

To access the vehicles controls, the I-Pace includes a ‘Touch Pro Duo' infotainment system consisting of a 10" touchscreen integrated into the dashboard and a lower 5.5" touchscreen with multi-function dials mounted below it.

The infotainment system is adequate and fairly simple to use. However, our biggest complaint is latency. There is a noticeable delay when navigating through the sub-menus. The latency is amplified and frustrating when you have to take your eyes off the road to make any vehicle adjustments such as finding a favorite satellite radio station. However, the latency issues in all makes and models should vanish once 5G networks are available to connect vehicles to the cloud.

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The infotainment screen, the premium audio system sounds great.

Climate Controls

The front seats offer heating and air conditioning options for added comfort and rear seats include heated options as well.

Another minor complaint is that Jaguar put the controls for the climate control on a fairly high mounted center console between the front seats. Multiple times, I found myself changing the interior temperature inadvertently when using the vehicle's infotainment system.

The I-Pace also has a feature Jaguar calls pre-conditioning. WIth this feature, a driver can select the desired temperature when the car is almost done with charging. This uses the power from the charging station to operate the climate control, and not the vehicle's battery pack.  

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There is a storage compartment in the front where a gas engine would normally be located

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The Interior

Summary

The I-Pace offers a refined, comfortable driving experience that quickly dispels any notion that electric vehicles can't be sporty and powerful. More importantly, it's vehicles like the I-Pace and upcoming electric models from other automakers that will eventually contribute to the mass-adoption of electric vehicles.

Electric motors offer superior performance to internal combustion engines while producing zero emissions. The only real barrier right now is the higher costs of battery-powered vehicles, but as battery technology improves, the cost of electric vehicles will drop.

The Jaguar I-Pace is like setting foot on the moon in the history of electric vehicles, the I-Pace is a giant leap for the industry that is constantly moving forward. Soon, more advanced vehicles from other automakers will follow, including some with standard autonomous driving features built in.

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The I-Pace might become the first real challenger to the Tesla Model X or Model S becuase it's one of the first luxury electric vehicles from a well established global automaker that can be produced at scale and delivered to customers, something that Tesla is struggling with on the Model 3.

In addition, the I-Pace costs $30,000 less that a Tesla's Model X P100D, which might tempt buyers looking for a luxury electric SUV.

With SUVs hugely popular and sedan sales plummeting in the U.S, the Jaguar I-Pace comes at a good time in the market to introduce a luxury electric SUV, something that Cadillac wasn't even able to do. Jaguar also gets a some credibility from Waymo, as the self-driving arm of Alphabet ordered 24,000 I-Pace's from Jaguar for its upcoming autonomous taxi service.

With its good looks, high-performance and a price tag lower than comparable Tesla X, first time electric car buyers might find that the I-Pace is just the right luxury electric vehicle they've been waiting for.

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