Jaguar's All-Electric I-Pace Accelerates At An Alarming Speed, But Does It Hit The Mark In Other Areas?
The race to electrification has caused massive disruption in the automotive industry. Some marques have found this need to shift from developing internal combustion engines to electric motors challenging, primarily due to the huge investment they have already made in the former technology, while others saw opportunities.
Jaguar belongs to the latter group and consequently unveiled the I-Pace, its very first fully electric car in 2018, before most of its European rivals. (The model officially debuted at the Singapore Motorshow this January.)
The earlier electric cars such as the 2009 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, 2010 Nissan Leaf and 2013 BMW i3 largely resembled caricatures, but the Jaguar I-Pace crossover SUV bucks the trend and boasts a sporty aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye. It features an emotive exterior anchored by a chiselled silhouette, bold grille, sloping roofline and slim LED head and rear lights.
It is also tall and big enough to accommodate a large battery package safely under its cabin without encroaching on passenger space. Though its kerb weight is a hefty 2,670kg—a third of which is due to the batteries—being heavy has never been an issue for the SUV genre.
The I-Pace’s large-capacity 90kWh battery holds enough energy to give it a maximum range of 470km, which is about the same as that of a petrol-driven SUV of the same size and weight. All four of its wheels are powered by a pair of powerful electric motors, which produce nearly 400hp and a massive 696Nm of torque.
While this does not sound like a lot when compared to that of current turbocharged engines, electric motors behave differently. To be precise, they are far more efficient and effective. While a petrol engine needs to be attached to a gearbox and revved up high to produce useable power and torque, an electric motor produces maximum torque at zero rpm.
Another appealing aspect of an electric car is the lack of any gear change. Unlike conventional petrol vehicles, most electric vehicles come with only a single gear, instead of a multi-gear transmission. For the I-Pace, this equates to an incredibly quick acceleration speed that enables it to overtake other cars on the road much easier.
In fact, the I-Pace’s best feature is its acceleration—the car reaches 100km/h in a mere 4.8sec in complete silence, which feels far more dramatic without the usual exhaust roar of a Jaguar. I initially thought that the car wouldn’t be much fun without a V8 soundtrack, but the marque has thoughtfully included the option of a dynamic drive mode with a pseudo-engine sound in case one still wants to hear a roar. However, I personally think having a backdrop of silence as the car blasts off is both surreal and highly addictive.
The I-Pace continues to gather speed at an alarming rate even as it passes 100km/h, and its instantaneous power delivery makes it feel like it is half its weight. All this power would be useless if the I-Pace did not handle well. Surprisingly, this behemoth is as precise and measured in its steering and chassis handling, just like a good sports car.
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The I-Pace does not force you to adapt to something out of a sci-fi movie as it looks, feels and behaves very much like an up-to-date SUV. Some of the controls that operate the new electric drive may require some getting used to, such as the use of buttons instead of a traditional gearstick to put the car in drive or reverse gear, but one will find the rest of the cabin familiar and as comfortable as a Jaguar would be.
The I-Pace’s biggest drawback is possibly how long it takes to get its battery fully recharged. With a 7kW single phase AC on-board charger, which is typically used for home charging, the car requires slightly over 12 hours for a full charge.
Having said that, one should not be using an electric car in the same way as a petrol-powered one, only charging its battery when it is empty. Ideally, the I-Pace should be plugged in and charged every night, almost like a mobile phone, such that it starts the new day on a full battery.
When compared with the top echelon of luxury cars, the I-Pace leaves an indelible impression—it is a car of great competence and one that offers a big leap in driving thrill. It certainly shows that the transition from petrol to fully electric motoring can be as enjoyable as it is clean, and it is a shining example of electric cars to come.
Body: Four-door SUV, aluminium construction
Engine: Two electric motors with 90kWh battery capacity
Max Power: 400PS (approximately 395hp)
Max Torque: 696Nm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 4.8sec
Top Speed: 250km/h (electronically governed)
Range: 470km (WLTP cycle)
Power Consumption: 22kWh/100km (WLTP cycle)
Agent: Wearnes Automotive, 45 Leng Kee Road; tel: 6378 2626