Jaguar is a small company compared with the German premium triumvirate, BMW, BMW, +0.96% Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. But the British outfit managed to beat its rivals to the punch in the EV arena by launching the I-Pace, the first serious competitor to Tesla, TSLA, -1.62% in 2018.
Since then the German brands have joined the EV party with impressive entries, such as the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC. But the I-Pace remains a favorite of ours with its stylish SUV design, sporty performance and handling and its hatchback practicality.
With nearly 400 horsepower on tap from two electric motors, one at each axle, all-wheel-drive capability and a suspension system designed for enthusiast drivers, the I-Pace is fast and fun to drive.
At the Jaguar EV’s launch, we drove the I-Pace on a moderately challenging off-road course and a demanding racetrack, two testing environments where one would not normally expect to see an EV. Yet the I-Pace managed to perform well in both.
The chinks in the I-Pace’s armor are its battery range, improved in 2020, but still not at Tesla levels, battery charging capabilities (also falling short of Tesla) and the Jaguar’s infotainment system, which continues to lag behind standard setting Audi.
On the plus side, the I-Pace does, like all Jaguar cars, come with a generous and comprehensive warranty. In the case of the I-Pace, this includes battery coverage of 8 years/100,000 miles, a reassuring factor for a consumer considering EV ownership.
What’s new for 2021?
Jaguar made some meaningful tweaks to the I-Pace in 2020, including a battery software change that extended the range from 234 to 253 miles.
For 2021, improvements for the U.S. market specific models have yet to be announced, but the global changes announced by Jaguar to the I-Pace include a number of useful refinements that we expect to appear here.
Connectivity is improved with a complimentary 4G plan and wireless device charging, an embedded Spotify SPOT, +3.15% music app and Bluetooth connections for two phones simultaneously are added.
The driver benefits from a new 3-D surround camera and rearview “digital” mirror that is fed by a high definition, wide-angle camera mounted outside in a pod at the rear of the roof. The driver can use a switch to change to a conventional-style mirror if desired.
Outside, a new optional Bright package features chrome exterior trim and Atlas Grey grille finish. The package is available on all trim levels of the I-Pace. Newly design 19-inch wheels are introduced.
The Jaguar’s dashboard is upgraded with a new version of Jaguar’s Pivi Pro infotainment system. This features improved navigation functionality and the ability to add the most convenient charging station locations to a route, as well as predict charging times.
Also read: Review: The 2021 Porsche Taycan, all-electric, luxury sport sedan
Speaking of charging, the 2021 I-Pace gains a new 11-kW onboard charger as standard, versus the previous 7-kW charger. Connected to a 240-volt source this more powerful charger will lower the charge time for a depleted battery from 12.6 hours to 8.6 hours. Jaguar says that when at a public charging station, a 50kW charger will add up to 39 miles range in 15 minutes. A 100-kw charger will add up to 78 miles over the same time.
What we like
- Cool design language
- Sporty performance
- Versatile SUV features
What we don’t
- Battery range could be better
- Infotainment system still not class leading
The 2020 I-Pace was priced from $69,850 to $80,900. We don’t expect prices to increase much for 2021 models.
The 2020 I-Pace was tested by the EPA using the miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) formula established to evaluate electric vehicles. As such it returned 80 MPGe in the city, 72 MPGe on the highway and 76 MPGe combined. We expect the numbers to remain little changed for 2021.
Standard features and options
The I-Pace range starts with the S trim ($69,850). The five-passenger SUV style body design has two electric motors for a combined 394 hp and 512 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from 0-60 mph takes 4.5 seconds, claims Jaguar. Air suspension is standard as are 18-inch alloy wheels. New 19-inch wheels are optional (for 2021 the larger wheels may become standard). A panoramic fixed sunroof helps brighten up the cabin.
Inside, the infotainment system has 10-inch upper and 5.5-inch lower touchscreens to manage navigation and other vehicle systems. Front seats are 8-way power adjustable and rear folding seats are split 60/40.
There are six USB ports, Apple AAPL, -0.66% CarPlay and Android Auto integration for smartphones and an 11-speaker Meridian audio system. An optional Meridian 3-D surround sound system features 16 speakers and one subwoofer.
Standard safety equipment includes parking sensors front and rear, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
The SE trim ($76,250) supplements the S equipment with 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, a power lift gate, leather seat trim, power folding mirrors and LED daytime running lights. Blind-spot monitoring is added to the safety equipment.
Heated front and rear seats are optional.
The range topping HSE trim ($80,900) has heated and cooled front seats, with powered adjustable side bolsters and extended cushions, heated rear seats and the more powerful Meridian sound system as standard. Adaptive cruise control is added, as is a 360-degree camera system and hands-free lift gate operation.
As detailed above the I-Pace has an impressive array of standard safety systems and driver aids. The Jaguar has yet to be crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or other third party organizations.
Behind the wheel
The I-Pace stands out among today’s luxury EVs for its dynamically styled appearance and engaging handling, not to mention spirited performance.
Comfortable behind the wheel in a firm padded seat, the I-Pace boasts a sophisticated and stylish looking dashboard. The driving experience leans more to the sporting side with handling that is crisp and tightly managed on winding roads.
At the same time, the ride quality of the I-Pace is surprisingly composed given the car’s sporting aspirations, due in part to the standard air suspension system.
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Overall, the I-Pace may not be quite as polished or refined as key rivals from Audi or Mercedes-Benz, but its distinctive design and entertaining driving character are strong attractions.
Other cars to consider
2021 Audi e-tron—We are big fans of the e-tron. Although its battery range is subpar, its sophisticated engineering and finely finished interior are hard to pass up.
2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC—Luxury, comfortable ride and overall refinement are the main draws of this Mercedes EV.
2021 Tesla Model S—Fast and furious, the Model S is aging and not as well finished inside as other top EVs, but still commands attention.
Used Tesla Model S—The Tesla flagship is the only luxury EV to have been around long enough for used prices to become more affordable.
The I-Pace S trim comes well equipped and buyers can add a few desirable features, such as adaptive cruise control, yet still save money over the SE model.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.