Every year, more battery electric vehicles (BEVs) enter the marketplace, as evidenced by the new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace, the first credible competitor to Tesla, which continues to be the dominant (and sometimes domineering) name in the game. Despite its premium price, there’s something to be said for a Tesla’s fast power, future-minded technology, and interesting design. While true that good design is subjective, many would still regard, say, the Nissan Leaf as too interesting.
Nevertheless, entering the world of BEVs is no cheap or easy feat. For example, eschewing luxury bits and range, the Leaf still starts at $30,885 (including $895 destination fee). The Tesla Model X 100D, on the other hand, with about three times the power and twice the range, starts at $98,200. Minus federal tax credits, you’ll still be paying more than 90 grand for a non-optioned, all-black Model X.
But these are the days of government-driven, zero-emissions goals. No longer a fashion statement at auto shows, minimizing carbon footprints is a global discussion. It seems automakers are more than happy to oblige, and Jaguar was the first of the major luxury automakers to get its BEV on the road.
Jaguar’s BEV is No Bust
The all-new Jaguar I-Pace crossover SUV checks off many of the qualifiers that should lead to success: range, performance, style, and utility.
Boasting a 90-kWh Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack comprised of 432 pouch cells as well as front- and rear-axle electric motors, the new I-Pace has an EPA-rated range of 234 miles. And since performance has become a stable staple in the Jaguar lineup, the I-Pace doesn’t disappoint with an output that pushes 394 horsepower and 512 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels.
Without an engine to rev, propulsion is instantaneous, and this kitty can pounce from zero-to-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to Jag. The aforementioned Tesla Model X takes 4.7 seconds. Mind you, neither are road-going sloths. For instance, Porsche’s similar sized but internal combustion engine (ICE)-equipped Macan Turbo (twin-turbo V6 engine, 400 hp) posts a 4.4-second time to 60 mph when equipped with its Sport Chrono Package.
But we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples here. Other than being performance-oriented crossover SUVs, none of these vehicles are considered direct competitors. Unless we’re talking about summertime drinks, ICEs and BEVs just don’t mix.
The Jaguar I-Pace is essentially alone in the midsize crossover all-electric class until the 2019 Audi E-tron goes on sale. Like the I-Pace for Jaguar, the E-tron will be Audi’s first venture into BEV territory.
Final specifications for the E-tron have not been released, but preliminary numbers suggest similarities to the I-Pace such as its 124-mph top speed and a comparable range estimate. Then again, the E-tron sprints to 60 mph at a slower clip of 5.5 seconds, but does offer 4,000 pounds of towing capacity (the I-Pace doesn’t tow). Both start siphoning funds in the $70,000s, though.
Wait, How Much?
The I-Pace starts at $70,495, which is notably $5,300 less than the E-tron. The Jaguar comes in three trim levels (S, SE, and HSE) with an additional First Edition model available only in its first year of launch.
For comparison within Jaguar’s crossover family, the larger F-Pace S model, with its supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and 380-hp rating, starts at $62,525. The most potent of the smaller E-Pace lineup is the R-Dynamic HSE, which starts at $53,845, but its turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine only offers 296 maximum horsepower. Not that a Jaguar purchase is ever about cost savings…
With a Jaguar comes performance and prestige. With a Jaguar I-Pace, you can add passing by gas stations forever and ever. According to AAA, the national average price for premium fuel (because premium car) is $2.85 per gallon at the end of January 2019. Multiply that by the average number of gallons consumed each year per vehicle (658, as reported by the U.S. Department of Energy), and you’d save $1,874 in just one year if prices remained unchanged.
Providing added value, the Jaguar EliteCare ownership package includes a 5-year/60,000-mile new-vehicle warranty, roadside assistance, and complimentary scheduled maintenance. An 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty also covers up to 70% capacity retention over time. Tesla offers a similar battery state-of-health guarantee, but only for its Model 3 sedan.
Speaking of the Jag’s battery, when depleted, it will charge up to 80% within 40 minutes on a 100-kW, Level 3 DC fast charger (85 minutes on 50-kW power). Level 2 charging will take about 13 hours to full capacity (or 10 hours up to 80%). However, if you’re in absolutely no hurry, Level 1’s 120 volts, like what flows out of the outlets in your house, will give you a fully charged I-Pace in, oh, maybe two days?
My test wasn’t entirely scientific, but with 63% battery life and while plugged into a standard socket, the charge meter stated 34 hours remaining. Granted, the ambient temperature was a January-norm 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
Luckily, the I-Pace comes with a standard Mode 2 charge cable as well as a NEMA 14-50 adapter should you have an available 4-prong socket. Jaguar does recommend plugging into outlets that are not utilized by multiple electronics.
Travel At Your Own Pace
Once on the road, the I-Pace is gobs of giggles. There are no questions as to its sportiness. I’ve had the chance to evaluate the newest Jaguar by driving through country hillsides, across a creek, around a race track, and over pothole-laden city streets. It seems this BEV couldn’t care less about surface and traction conditions.
With a low center of gravity and a nearly 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution thanks to the placement of the battery pack, the I-Pace showcases minimal body roll. But although the steering inputs are precise, they feel vaguely disconnected at the same time. It’s like, well, communicating with a robot: exact but sterile.
But the I-Pace is engaging in other ways. The vehicle is quick but without any jarring torque thrust. The drive modes (Eco, Normal, and Dynamic) are easily toggled through via center console buttons, and driving preferences like steering feel and ride quality can be further customized on the dynamic setup screen. Also, to make up for the lack of a snarling engine sound, the I-Pace features Active Sound Design.
Selecting between Normal, Calm, and Dynamic brings forth into the cabin a rocketship-like “whoosh” (as Jaguar reps call it) not unlike those heard in outer space-based sci-fi films. Combine the Dynamic drive mode with Dynamic sound, and time travel almost seems possible. Keep things in Normal and whirr like a muted Power Wheels. The choice is yours.
Your Screening is Starting in the I-Pace Theater
Now, as entertaining to driver and passengers alike while inducing wide-eyed gawks from passersby, the I-Pace can certainly feel a bit “extra” sometimes. Like the interior, as comfortable as it is, is overrun by screens.
A 10-inch center touchscreen, which acts as central command (infotainment, navigation, EV status, etc.), is bordered by a 5.5-inch touchscreen below, from which climate, seat temperature, and phone controls are accessible. Additionally, the driver information panel is a multi-section, 12.3-inch customizable display.
There is a lot of tech that works great (adaptive cruise control, 360-degree surround camera, torque vectoring), but some that still needs adjustment. For example, the park assist system operated as if auditioning for a “Bird Box” sequel. Overall, though, there is plenty that’s good about Jaguar’s BEV, and its price point is hardly debatable in the grand scheme of luxury sport-utes.
However, range anxiety remains a concern for many consumers. During my few days with the I-Pace, even as an apartment dweller with only trickle-power Level 1 access, I never once worried about my travel plans – despite the mileage-stealing cold weather and my own exuberant driving manner.
Thanks to an abundance of public charging stations (many Level 2s were free to use) and city-traffic regenerative braking, commuting was like in any other car. And this spring will see the introduction of the E-tron and even a long-range Leaf Plus. So, if the slick new Jaguar I-Pace is any indication, the beyond-Tesla BEV market is only just beginning to bloom.