Between June 4th, when the first wave of reviews of the New Jag hit (offically the I-PACE, what a dumb name) and the time the salesman called me saying “Time to sign the order if you want to be in the first wave”, I had to decide whether to spend a lot of money on a car I’d never seen or touched. So I paid damn close attention to those reviews. I’m a critical reader, and suspicious about the motives of product reviewers, and I think the picture that emerges is pretty clear. This post is to enumerate what I think it’s possible to know for sure about the car without having owned or even driven one. [Updated based on hands-on experience.]
I’ll throw in a bunch of links down at the bottom to reviews that I think are particularly useful.
The story starts in 2014, when Jag leadership decided to go all-in on a from-scratch electric model. They put an integrated development team all in one room at the University of Warwick — not exactly traditional auto-biz practice — and eventually brought the new car from nothing to market in “only” four years, which is considered very good in that industry.
It has two motors, one wrapped round each axle, with the space between full of battery, then the cabin perched on top. At moderate speeds, only the back wheels drive.
It’s almost all aluminium and, despite that, is still super-heavy (2100kg), mostly because of the battery.
I’m not going to recite horsepower and torque numbers that I don’t understand, but people who do understand them sound impressed.
I don’t understand charging issues well enough to have an intelligent opinion, but Seth Weintraub does, and his review is full of useful detail. Tl;dr: The range is competitive with other high-end electrics.
It doesn’t have gears as such, just buttons: P, N, R, D. The North American edition comes only with air suspension, and has a thing where you can elevate the car for a tricky driveway or rutted gravel, and it settles down automatically at high speeds. I gather the Euro model can be bought with springs.
Another difference: The Euro model comes with either a standard or glass roof; in the New World it’s all-glass all the time. Personally, I’d prefer a layer of metal between me and the sun, but they claim it’s sufficiently shaded and UV-impervious.
Electrics are super quiet inside so, if you want, the Jag will play you a spaceship-y acceleration sound that changes with the speed. Fortunately it’s optional; although one of the journos who took it out on the racetrack said he found it useful in situations where you don’t have time to look at the speedometer.
There’s a screen behind the steering wheel where you can display speed and charge and maps and so on. Front center, there’s a biggish (but not Tesla size) screen above for Infotainment, and a smaller one below for climate control. On the subject of climate control, the console has a couple of actual physical knobs for that.
It’s got a fair-size trunk at the back (the back seats fold down 60/40) and a tiny one under the front hood; someone suggested it was just big enough to carry your cat.
As with most electrics, you can do one-pedal driving, where easing off the accelerator goes into regeneration mode and provides enough breaking for all but exceptional circumstances.
You can actually take it off-road, up and down stupidly steep hills, through really deep puddles, and so on: The “LR” part of JLR is Land Rover, and that part of the company knows something about those things.
There’s plenty of room inside for four big adults. The person in the middle of the back seat should be on the small side.
Nobody has seen either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at work, but the company claims that both will be supported. My own Jag dealer said he’d heard that they’d done the technology work were just doing licensing and payment. [Hands-on: It works fine!]
It has a SIM slot and over-the-air software update.
You can equip it with a tow-bar and bike-rack and roof-rack.
It’s built, not by JLR themselves, but by Magna Steyr, a contract manufacturer in Graz, Austria, that also builds the Mercedes G-Class and BMW 5 Series.
Things that are good ·
Everyone agrees that it’s a blast to drive. What’s interesting is that the most common comment was “feels just like a Tesla”. The Top Gear scribe pointed out, in a melancholy tone, that apparently all electric motors feel more or less like all others. This is a big change from the days of internal-combustion engines, which have all sorts of personality. It’s fast, maneuverable, and comfortable. [Hands-on: Oh yeah!]
The one-pedal driving mode takes a bit of getting used to but all the journos ended up loving it, and assuming that pretty everyone would use it all the time.
The seats are said to be super-comfortable. [Hands-on: Yup.]
It has all the bells and whistles and technology gadgets anyone could want.
The cabin has all sorts of storage space in bins here and there and under the back seats and so on.
It has more than enough range for people who drive around town and then occasionally go 200+ km for business.
Things that are not so good ·
If you’re a road warrior, Jag doesn’t have anything to compete with Tesla’s supercharger network. I’ve started poking around PlugShare and ChargePoint and so on, and I think you could manage road trips, but it’s not going to be as slick as with a Tesla. Perhaps this situation will improve?
Me, I have a carport on the back alley and I’ll put in a charger and I should be fine.
The infotainment system is slow and laggy, and some important settings are deeply nested into the menus. Android Auto is my answer to that. [Hands-on: The lag is not really an irritant once you get into the system’s rhythm but yeah, the menus could be better-organized.]
The storage space isn’t that well-organized and it’s not obvious where to stow the charging cables.
The fifth person in the car is going to be kind of cramped.
Visibility out the back window is lousy, with big rear posts getting in the way. [Hands-on: The window is tiny, nearly horizontal, and shaded, so the view is ludicrously bad. There’s a back-up camera to help with parking though.]
The brake pedal tries to combine regenerative and friction braking and as a result is said to feel soft and weird. [Hands-on: Don’t know what was bothering them, my leg likes it fine.]
The air-suspension ride has been reported as feeling a bit jittery and unstable at low/moderate speeds. [Hands-on: Nope, but I’ve found the regen braking can be a bit quease-inducing for passengers while driving in traffic.]
The center console crowds the driver’s leg a bit; more of a problem in left-hand drive vehicles, obviously. [Hands-on: Not at all, there’s plenty of room for my legs, and I’m 5’11".]
My conclusion · What happened was, when the first buzz of publicity hit in March I was interested enough to drop by Vancouver Jaguar and talk to Caleb Kwok, the sales manager. He’s a plausible guy, responsive to email, and anyhow, he convinced me to put down a refundable deposit, buying me a place near the front of the line at the time actual orders would open up. Which turned out to be last week.
By which time I’d read all the material summarized in this piece. On balance, I liked what I heard; the pluses were pretty big and none of the minuses bothered me that much. Remember, the longest trip I normally take is 230km to Seattle, where I park for a couple of days then drive home.
So I signed on the dotted line, and my deposit is no longer refundable.
The big worry, of course, is reliability and manufacturing quality. Jaguar, at various times in its history, has had a miserable reputation. Of one famous model, they used to say “It’s a great car, so buy two, because one will always be in the shop.” It’s worse than that; Jag at one point had a particularly stinky track record around electrical systems.
But there are stats suggesting Jag’s doing better in recent years. And then there’s the fact that it’s being built in a plant where they also make Mercedes and BMW. Granted, I’m taking a chance here.
Helpful reviews ·
The Top Gear car review: Jaguar I-Pace at BBC Top Gear.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Drive at Edmunds. By the way, Edmunds’ Long-Term Road Tests are the gold standard in automotive reportage. I’m sure they’ll onboard one of the new Jags and if you’re thinking “maybe”, I strongly advise watching out for that.
Jaguar I-Pace SUV 2019 in-depth review | Mat Watson Reviews at CarWow — this is the most negative review I ran across, and really highlights all the places where the new Jag could have been better.