Grace with pace has always been Jaguar’s take. Its award-winning electric I-PACE EV400 is quick and able to prowl pretty far on a charge, blogs Dan Scanlan.

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!But as the world electrifies its transportation more and more, the big cat has to keep pace. Thus, the ‘19 Jaguar I-PACE, the first battery electric vehicle offered by the company bar its I‑TYPE 3 Formula E racecar. This 5-seat crossover’s 90kWh battery delivering an EPA-estimated range of 234 miles, although 290 has been witnessed by IMSA racing legend Davy Jones. It’s truly a POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!

Jones would be my co-pilot during my I-PACE test drive, unfortunately without the race track time Jaguar and Jones have played with as seen in my video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lShYj-0PKAA&feature=youtu.be

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!“Being in the racing business all my life, I would have bet money Jaguar would have gone hybrid before they went fully EV,” Jones, above, said. “When they went all the way EV, I was like, WOW. When I went to Portugal and drove it for the first time, I really understood what EV was about. It was a ‘Wow!’ factor, and it impressed me.”

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!I’ve driven EVs in various forms. Now here’s Jaguar’s take. Jaguar-designed concentric motors front and rear (197-horsepower each) are hooked to a 90kWh battery system for a combined 394 horsepower and 512 pound-feet of torque. There’s no transmission. Each motor fits concentrically around a single-speed transmission and differential, with torque distribution to front, rear or all four wheels as needed. There are 432 pouch cells mounted low in between front and rear motors, with an 8-year/100,000 mile battery warranty. You can get an 80 percent battery charge in about 40 minutes using a 100kW DC fast charger, or a 230-volt wall box will take it from zero to 80 percent in just over 10 hours, an average overnight home charge.

Like most performance cars, there’s Eco, Normal, and Sport/Dynamic modes, with matching accelerator and steering feel. “Dynamic” gives full power on demand, stiffer suspension and steering response. Push the accelerator – not gas pedal, Jones jokes – and all four tires dug in as we were shoved into our seats. We hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds with an electric turbine-like whine. Jones delighted in telling me to “punch it” as the I-PACE securely leapt ahead from any speed with instant torque when accelerator was tapped. With no transmission, there no wait for a downshift – it went from 40 mph to 60 mph in a second, passing just think and go. It is limited to 124 mph. But even after three 0-60-mph tests and a few on-the-run passing tests, the range display didn’t drop.

“The thing that really captured my excitement about the I-PACE is that 512 pound-feet of torque. If you are going 25-, 50- or 80-mph, it doesn’t matter what speed, if you go wide-open throttle, it’s instant torque,” Jones, who has had track time, below, said. “ …You get drive from the front wheels; you get it from the rear wheels, wherever you need the torque the most.”

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!Jaguar engineers added a “creep” feature, so you can lift the brake pedal and inch forward in stop-and-go driving. With it off, when you brake, you stay stopped until you tap the right pedal. It’s odd, and you can’t switch “creep” on or off unless you are in “Park.” Most of the time, the I-PACE drove just like any vehicle with a gas engine bar lack of engine sound.

With the Nickel Manganese Cobalt lithium-ion battery pack down low and centered, there was just about a 50:50 weight distribution front to rear in a lighter, mostly aluminum body. The Jag rides on double wishbone front and integral link rear suspension with aluminum links and knuckles to reduce weight, plus standard air suspension (up to 2 inches higher for off-road, or just over 1.5 inches down to ease access/egress), with continuously-variable shock absorbers and self-leveling.

The ride in Dynamic was firm, no hard edges, taut but buffered well. In curves, it was neutral with no real body roll, the steering linear and direct even in Eco mode. The I-PACE is most fun in Dynamic, which tightens up steering and suspension feel, yet still gives the taut ride some nice buffer. It felt quick, agile and nonplused by road imperfections. It’s very comfortable, with nice buffering at full suspension compression.

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!The I-PACE has adjustable levels of regenerative braking, the highest coming in the second you lift off the accelerator pedal. With 13.8-inch front/12.8-inch rear disc brakes, the I-PACE had decent initial bite, that really stopped us well. Whether it’s on low or high regen, the brakes were a bit grabby toward the end of stopping. Power steering was direct, with decent feel. With all-wheel-drive and the Adaptive Surface Response, which adjusts brake and electric motors based on road conditions, the I-PACE can even do some gentle sand and gravel. Overall, it’s just quiet at speed.

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!The I-PACE design is certainly descended from the rest of the line. It’s almost four inches lower, two inches shorter and just over an inch narrower than Jaguar’s gas-powered F-PACE crossover. The shape comes from the design studios of Ian Callum, who says a clean-sheet approach saw them craft a dramatic cab-forward profile.

EVs don’t need a grille, but the I-PACE has a wide and slightly squared-off one with a classic growling cat’s head square center on a short nose. Glaring slim LED headlights are incised at its sides, high- and low beams split by the fenders’ line. The low arcing roofline had a coupe-like silhouette; rising rear fenders giving some muscle back there. The doors get pop-out handles that fit flush when not in use. The short rear section gets a high tail with tiny lip spoiler at the base of a shallow curved window under long shade. Slim LED taillight design slits the vertical tail tops, with aerodynamic design accents. Satin alloy and gloss gray 5-spoke wheels get an incised 3-D look, shod in Pirelli P-ZERO rubber and framed in subtle flat-edged flares.

“That’s the goal for Ian Callum to create a new modern car that has DNA of Jaguar,” Jones said. “This is a cab-forward design since there’s no engine in front. That gives us more legroom in the back seat and throughout the vehicle. But the lines, the look, are there. The taillight lenses are straight out of our F-Type.”

It’s a very clean, low and long-looking design with short overhangs that really emphasize the longer wheelbase with a pretty sleek .29 coefficient of drag, standard air suspension system dropping it up to 0.4 inches above 65 mph to further reduce drag.

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!Entry was easy, sliding into supportive gray leather bucket seats up front. No huge central screen like a Tesla; three separate digital screens handle everything, although the main one has a lot of stuff to swipe through. Straight ahead is a simply-designed 12.3-inch digital gauge package with multiple displays. You can choose a basic digital speedometer with charge/power gauge, navigation on one side and your choice of information on the other. Or you can punch up a sweep-needle speedometer framing a digital speed readout with inset gear position and outside speed limit on the left, and charge/power use display with drivetrain setting and miles-to-empty display on the other.

A wide 10-inch center touchscreen handles audio, navigation, phone, settings, battery charge and range, drivetrain/throttle response/suspension/steering setup, even ambient accent light colors. It has Arrival Mode, which can suggest the closest charging point at the end of a journey and sync with the Jaguar Land Rover Route Planner app. Below, a simple “Stop/Start” button, and volume knob. Two multi-function, rotary controllers below those handle dual-zone climate control on a 5.5-inch lower digital screen. Amazon Alexa Skill allows I-PACE owners to audibly access information held in the Jaguar InControl Remote app from any Alexa-enabled device.

POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!POWERFUL PLUG-IN PACESETTER!In back, plenty of head and leg room for two adults in the low-slung seats with climate controls as well as three USB ports. The wide 25.3 cu. ft. of cargo space in back enlarges to 51-cu. ft. with rear seats splitting 70/30. Overhead, a very dramatic glass panoramic roof with no shade.

The base Jaguar I-PACE S starts at $69,500; I-PACE SE at $75,850; HSE at $80,500; and our First Edition tester at $85,900. All have standard all-wheel drive, while our First Edition added $595 Coris Gray paint, $1,700 5-spoke 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P-ZEROS, for a final price of $89,200.

The future of Jaguar is in I-PACE, in its look, feel and luxury, with performance and handling you’d expect as well as technology. While its overall average range is a wee bit less than the Tesla Model X, the Jaguar I-PACE is quick and able to prowl pretty far on a charge. And it does it with style and grace, earning World Car Of The Year, World Car Design Of The Year and World Green Car honors in 2019.

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