Cars > Electric

The Jaguar I-Pace is electrifyingly fun to drive

This EV is a real treat behind the wheel

This car is both quick and eco-friendly. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

The Jaguar I-Pace has been around for just under two years but has only been recently launched in the country. The question is, are we ready for electric vehicles?

The I-Pace isn’t the first all-electric car I’ve driven. Many years back, I got to try an EV which was essentially a glorified golf cart with number plates and that experience didn’t go well. It was too slow for our road and traffic conditions, and lacked any sort of passenger safety gear. Over a decade later, the industry has an electrified future in its sights and cars like the I-Pace are slowly changing people’s notions of owning an EV.

Penned by JLR’s design chief, Sir Ian Callum, the I-Pace is a crossover built atop Jaguar’s D7e platform. Power comes from two separate electric motors developing a very respectable combined output of 395hp and, more importantly, 696Nm of torque. And as they say, horsepower sells engines but torque wins races.

EVs develop maximum torque at zero rpm. The instant you boot the throttle on the I-Pace, it accelerates shockingly quickly. So quickly that it hits 100km/h from a standstill in a scant 4.8 seconds. That’s not something one expects from a family-oriented crossover. Top speed is limited to 200km/h. Continuous software tweaks have enabled the I-Pace to last up to 470km in between charges. However, range is also dependent on traffic conditions. During my city commute covering a modest 15km in one day through traffic, the I-Pace consumed battery charge equivalent to 60km. Cruising on the highway at 80-100km/h, my 40km drive through SLEX and CALAX netted energy consumption equivalent to 35-38km of range, which was impressive. The car seems to be the most efficient when cruising between 80-90km/h on a completely level surface as the energy consumption gauge shows zero output. As I reached the hill climb section of the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Highway, the 23km drive up to my destination consumed close to 40km in equivalent range. Uphill battle indeed in conserving power.

Sexy back, this thing has. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

As with any modern car, the I-Pace seats five comfortably, has very good space, a well-appointed interior covered in perforated ivory leather with matte aluminum accents overlaid on soft black plastics. A large touchscreen houses the infotainment system. My sole gripe is the lack of Apple Carplay or Android Auto. Local reps say that Jaguar-Land Rover has yet to activate the software for our market. Thankfully, the Meridian surround sound system was still able to play some cool tunes from my Spotify playlist.

Both front seats adjust twelve ways electrically and offer very good support and comfort for long drives, easing your range anxieties, with excellent reach and rake steering wheel adjustments.

The steering effort is modestly weighted and can feel numb at low speeds, but evens out nicely on the highway. Ride comfort is firm: more German sports sedan than British lounge chair on wheels. But there is enough compliance to filter out road imperfections. It needs the firmness to control the somewhat heavy 2,133kg curb weight, about 350-400kg heavier than a comparably-sized vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

It’s eerily silent, of course. The very soft hum of the electronics is the only give-away that the vehicle is on. Unfortunately, that means you can hear more of the outside world: cars and motorcycles passing by, pedestrians talking, and all other noises that a typical gasoline or diesel motor cancels out.

No engine noise to compete with the Meridian sound system. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Thanks to regenerative braking, stopping is even more phenomenal. You can adjust the sensitivity to low, which allows it to coast to a stop like a normal car. Set it to high and it feels like you’re immediately braking the moment you let off the accelerator, thus shortening braking distance by half. You can also activate the creep/crawl function which makes the I-Pace feel more like a piston-engined car with an automatic transmission.

On the highway, progress is serene and stable. Since most of the powertrain’s weight is mounted down low, the I-Pace has very good highway manners unaffected by crosswinds and wake turbulence from larger vehicles. Just like any Jaguar, it feels very sure-footed. The twin electric motors can distribute torque between the front and rear axles to deliver a surprisingly sharp turn-in coupled with amazing corner exit traction and acceleration despite the wet and grimy roads I passed through going to Tagaytay. While I was driving as efficiently as possible on the highway, the winding challenging roads were too much to ignore and I indulged to see how hard I could confidently push this electrified cat. Thankfully, it still delivers the goods. Driving modes are selectable between Eco, Sport and Ice/Snow. The ride height can also be altered with a range of 6 inches, the highest setting of which gives the I-Pace a surprising flood wading depth of 500mm. I’m just not sure yet if I want to try that feature out.

While the I-Pace’s trunk can accommodate 656 liters of cargo, the spare wheel does eat into it quite a bit. If that’s not enough, the ‘frunk’ or front trunk can hold an additional 28 liters. Despite the abundance in space, this Jaguar’s sleek body is slippery with 0.29cd drag coefficient at its lowest ride height setting.

The real downside I see for the I-Pace is the range. Yes, you have up to 470km of range. But to recharge the 90kWh lithium-ion battery to at least 80% capacity requires 10 hours and a specialized 7kW charger to be installed in your home. The lack of specialized charging stations means long trips and destinations are still limited. I am hopeful that that changes soon.

Not your usual fill-up. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

EV technology still has a long way to go before it can become truly mainstream. Parts (especially batteries) need to be more affordable, supporting charging infrastructure needs to be built, and there has to be a dedicated recycling facility for old batteries. But the I-Pace and other cars like it show great promise. The electrified future is beginning to look very interesting and incredibly exciting, even for traditional car guys like me.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.