Before the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show has even begun, Jaguar has stolen it with its first-ever electric car, the I-PACE.
Although it’s technically a concept, Jaguar has confirmed the I-PACE will hit showrooms 2018, with a production-ready version revealed “in the metal” in late 2017. The company is already taking deposits online via a big red button on its website that says “I WANT ONE.”
With a range of 350 kilometres (on the American EPA test-cycle) or 500 km (European NEDC test-cycle) courtesy a 90-kWh battery; and two electric motors good for a combined 400 horsepower, it should give both the Tesla Model X and Mercedes Generation EQ a run for their money.
With fast 50-kW DC charging infrastructure, the I-PACE could charge from zero to 80 percent in 90 minutes, and up to 100 percent in two hours. The key specs are impressive, and even more impressive is the fact Jaguar says these are minimum acceptable figures for the production car.
“The time is right to have a Jaguar — with all our usual attributes — that also happens to be a battery-electric vehicle,” said Ian Hoban, Jaguar’s vehicle line director for the I-PACE. Engineering work began on the car in 2014, and running prototypes are already out testing.
By the end of the decade the I-PACE will join the growing ranks of all-electric luxury cars, including the Tesla, Mercedes, BMW iNext, and Porsche Mission-E. In terms of layout, power, range and specification, they’re all remarkably similar. The heavy battery packs are hidden under the floor, powering one or two motors on the axles. Without the bodywork, they all look a bit like an oversized longboard.
The I-PACE has two motors, allowing for all-wheel drive. It can sprint to 100 km/h in around four seconds. Because the motors and batteries take up so little space, the cabin could be pushed so far forward. The result is more passenger space on a smaller footprint. “In the second row you have the leg room and knee room from the category above,” said Finbar McFall, global marketing director for Jaguar-Land Rover.
To point out the obvious, the Jaguar I-PACE is a brilliant piece of design. Ian Callum, Jaguar’s head of design, said the goal was to make a car that would attract buyers who aren’t even looking for an electric vehicle.
“The opportunities offered by an electric powertrain are huge,” he said. “Electric vehicles offer designers much greater freedom, and it is an opportunity we must grasp.” It’s why they could design an SUV with the front end that looks like a taller version of Jaguar’s C-X75 supercar concept.
The Jaguar design team, led by Callum, can do no wrong lately. Look at the evidence: the compact XE sedan, the F-Pace SUV, the F-Type, all beautiful. With the I-PACE concept, Jaguar is at the height of its power, doing what Jaguar does best: making utterly desirable automobiles. This one just happens to be electric.