2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Drive Review: The Luxury Crossover Goes Electric

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The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is the first battery-electric vehicle from the Jaguar brand marking the beginning of a move toward offering all its vehicles with some degree of electrification. This doesn’t mean they’re ditching the internal combustion engine, but it does mean you’ll see electrics, hybrids, and mild-hybrids as a part of the Jaguar lineup in the future. The I-Pace sets Jaguar in a new direction and it’s a heck of a way to start.

The thing about Jaguar is it has a well-defined brand image that is at first a bit hard to reconcile with the idea of an electric vehicle. Jaguars are beautiful, luxurious things, but they’re also performance vehicles. They’re supposed to offer the kind of drive experience that gets your blood pumping and puts a smile on your face.

Electrics deliver all their torque as soon as you press on the accelerator so they feel fast. There’s no struggle to get up to speed, but what they don’t have is that visceral sense of power that comes from hearing an internal combustion engine growling away under the hood. That’s a big part of what makes driving a performance car a thrill in the first place. The challenge for Jaguar was to put that feeling into the I-Pace.

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There’s no growling engine and no rumble in your seat when you drive the I-Pace, but through careful engineering and attention to detail it captures the spirit of traditional performance vehicles and feels every bit a Jaguar. It starts with style.

This is a 5-person crossover that has none of the boxy, boring styling or overly done tried-and-couldn’t curves you’ll find in many other crossovers. It looks like a luxury car. It looks fast. It looks like something you’d have fun driving.

Inside, it’s full of rich materials with plenty of leather surfaces, including supremely comfortable seats that offer great adjustability and strong bolstering that holds you in place but won’t squish your middle. Even the sport seats, which are more heavily bolstered and a bit more stiff, are designed with comfort in mind. It’s roomy and comfortable and falls in line nicely with the Jaguar brand image.

Power from the I-Pace comes from two electric motors for a combined 394 horsepower with 512 lb-ft of torque. Its 90 kWh lithium ion battery gives it a range of 240 miles on a single charge. A 50 kW DC rapid charger can give the battery up to an 80 percent charge in just 85 minutes.

It’s a powerful drive that keeps you planted to the road and in control whether it’s a twisting country byway or a narrow city street with potholes and uneven pavement. The handling is crisp without being tiring and the suspension system evens out even the worst road surfaces.

As for that missing engine growl, Jaguar has a solution to that problem. There is a setting within the infotainment system that let you create a uniquely electric version of a traditional gas-powered engine.

On its highest setting, especially when you’re heavy on the accelerator, you’re rewarded with a deep, revving sound that’s more sci-fi than old-school engine. It’s not a gas-engine sound, but rather a uniquely electric sound and it absolutely works for creating that sense of power you can feel and hear. It helps keep this Jaguar feeling like a Jaguar.

The regenerative braking also has settings within the infotainment system that allow you to tailor the drive to your personal tastes. Choose how much “creep” you want so the I-Pace will or won’t roll to a stop slowly when you brake and choose how aggressively you want the regenerative braking to engage.

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At it’s highest setting, simply remove your foot from the gas and you will feel the car slowing as if you’ve pressed the brakes. There’s no need to actually use the brake pedal. One-pedal driving is something many haven’t experienced and it takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it easier and more relaxing. Welcome to the world of electric cars.

The Jaguar I-Pace is offered in four trim levels including a limited-run First Edition. Pricing starts at $69,500 for the base model and goes on sale in the U.S. later this year. Those looking for the luxury and performance offered by Jaguar combined with the benefits of an electric powertrain will find both in the all-new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.