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Monday, August 9, 2021

Review: 2021 Jaguar I-PACE EV400 S

The Jaguar I-PACE may be fully electric, but it remains a premium car through and through. It’s not an EV for the masses the same way the Nissan LEAF is supposed to be, and its P 7.590-million price tag—roughly two million below the base Porsche Taycan is reflective of that.

It may only be for the monied, but it manages to be right on point because the I-PACE does compete in two of the most important auto sectors at the moment: EVs and SUVs. Even better, Jaguar realized that they needed more than just touting zero tailpipe emissions to get them recognized. Their hook is a neat piece of design that manages to be both forward-looking and steeped in tradition. It’s proof that EVs can have a soul.

A bit of a caveat first: the name lacks originality. Jaguar didn’t intend it, but the “I” is associated too much with Apple—a brand others, probably including Jaguar, desperately aspired to be like. They could have used “E”—another letter connected to EVs, but that’s already taken over by their compact SUV, the E-Pace. Lack of foresight there, eh Jaguar?

The naming aside, the I-PACE looks good. Jaguar’s decision to work with a brand-new platform instead of cramming a battery pack in an existing one does wonders. The lines echo the current Jaguar design language, but the proportions are different. The stubbed nose, short front overhang, and squared-off rear end set the template while the vented hood and flushed door handles provide the details.

Unlock the doors and the I-PACE’s suspension lowers automatically while the flushed door handles pop out, welcoming the driver and passengers. By SUV standards, the seating position isn’t particularly high, but it’s nonetheless commanding. Visibility is somewhat hampered at the back because of the shallow rear window (with no rear wiper), so thankfully parking sensors and a rear camera are standard.

That said, given how the exterior re-writes the Jaguar design book, it’s somewhat disappointing that the interior isn’t nearly as futuristic. There are still a multitude of screens—three of them in total, but otherwise it’s pretty much what you’ve come to expect in a modern JLR product. With the exception of the push-button shifter, which by the looks of it seem like a last-minute addition to the floating center console, Jaguar probably realized I-PACE owners didn’t want something too future-gazing. Regardless, it’s something you’d get in one of their more conventional cars—love it, or hate it.

It may not be tangible at first, but space is where the I-PACE truly excels. Because of the made-for-electric platform, It’s spacious for everyone aboard. Jaguar says they’ve managed to extract the interior space of a Porsche Cayenne in something that’s sized like a Macan. Plus, there’s a 27-liter “frunk” along with a 577-liter (1,453 liters with the seats down) at the back. Sadly, most of that rear trunk has been occupied by the optional spare tire (again, blame the traditional Jaguar buyer).

On the subject of the three screens, the first replaces traditional analog instrument dials for a 12.3-inch digital display that can be configurable in several ways. The second is the widescreen Pivi Pro infotainment system, while the third is a 5.5-inch touchscreen that takes care of functions like climate control. All in all, they look tidy, but they’re too distracting to use while driving. Fortunately, they are complemented by two physical dials, but because they’re multi-function too, it forces you to take your eyes off the road for a split-second to cycle through fan speed or temperature or seat heaters.

Press the starter button, and the I-PACE emits no sound. Instead, the words, “READY” comes out on the heads-up display. Go into Reverse and it beeps, warning pedestrians, cyclists, or small animals that a near-silent car is backing out somewhere. Push Drive, and it falls silent once more. Again, the only sign that it’s ready to drive is the heads-up display saying, “READY” along with the selected gear.

Badged as the EV400 (400 horsepower and 696 Nm of torque), this is the standard trim for the I-PACE. With no SVR fettling or no race-bred claims, this SUV goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds—enough to keep a Civic Type R or GR Yaris honest. Effortless acceleration is easy, lazy even, limited to just the effort of your right foot. It’s never off-boost, never caught in the wrong gear.

Speed isn’t the I-PACE’s challenge, nor is high-speed refinement (it’s impeccable). It’s down to individuality. Because, degrees of brain-curdling acceleration aside, all EVs feel worryingly similar to drive. Strip away vibrations from the engine, a gearbox to interact with, intake and exhaust noise, turbo rush or a rampant top end, and you’re left with something more homogenous. If you thought modern performance cars flattered the inept, you haven’t seen anything yet—this is the age of plug and play. So how do you differentiate your premium EV when they’re all in danger of blending into one? Add a dash of fun through corners.

Given that the I-PACE weighs some 2.1 tons, it carries with it a significant potential for general sloppiness. It’s not. Again, that bespoke platform is at play. Not only does it serve the highest torsional rigidity of any Jaguar, but it’s got a center of gravity some 130 mm lower than the F-Pace. Push it through corners, and you actually feel the weight shifting around. This gives you a sense of connection, allowing you to understand what the car’s up to as you carve through corners with grip and confidence. The brakes, a blend of regeneration and mechanical, feel mushy but can be configured for one-pedal driving, if you so wish.

An additional trump card is that the all-wheel drive I-PACE is surprisingly capable off smooth tarmac. Not only does it have clever off-roading functions borrowed from Jaguar’s sister company, Land Rover, but because of the stubby nose, the approach angle is decent. Plus, the air suspension’s height can be adjusted giving extra confidence when going through light trails.

With a 90-kwh battery, the I-PACE is meant for some serious long-distance driving. For the duration of this four-day test drive, Jaguar Philippines issued a challenge: drive it as you would a combustion-engined car. Because, according to them, EVs aren’t supposed to be charged on a daily basis, but rather, it should be juiced up based on usage—just as you would visit a petrol station with a gas- or diesel-powered car. To prove a point, they didn’t even pack the portable charger. Its official range is 470 kilometers, but for the stop-and-go traffic situation of Metro Manila, that goes down to 380 kilometers. By the end of the drive, it showed a remaining range of 236 kilometers after 144 kilometers traveled (average speed of 21 km/h). Not bad.

Electric Vehicles are still, by and large, a novelty. With that, carmakers are currently re-learning what consumers want and don’t want. Despite its monster range, range anxiety will still put some buyers off the I-PACE even if it’s more than enough for a weekly commute around the city. But for those who don’t mind making the switch to electrons, Jaguar’s first-ever EV is one seriously good effort. Its acceleration is insane, its handling tight, and it looks great. There’s a danger that EVs strip a lot of interactions people tend to associate with cars, but it’s rewarding in a new and exciting way. It’s not for everyone, but it shows that Jaguar can make a car that steps boldly into the unknown with full confidence.

2021 Jaguar I-PACE EV400 S

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Ownership 2021 Jaguar I-PACE EV400 S
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Electric Vehicle
Warranty  5 years / 150,000 kilometers
8 years / 160,000 kilometers (battery)
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) NA
Aspiration All-Electric
Fuel Delivery NA
Layout / # of Cylinders NA
BHP @ rpm 400
Nm @ rpm 696
Fuel / Min. Octane 90 kwh Lithium-Ion Battery
Transmission Single Speed
Cruise Control Yes, w/ Limiter
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 228 wh/kilometer, 380 kilometers total range (actual),
220 wh/kilometer, 470 kilometers (WLTP)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,682
Width (mm) 2,011
Height (mm) 1,565
Wheelbase (mm) 2,990
Curb Weight (kg) 2,208
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone, Air Suspension
Rear Suspension Independent, Integral Link, Air Suspension
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV 245/20 R 20 V (f & r) (as tested)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 8
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Driver Condition Monitor
Lane Keep Assist
Blind Spot Indicator
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Electric
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 12-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 12-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 40/20/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto Dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Auto, Dual Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 15, Meridian
Steering Controls Yes

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