Jaguar I-Pace 2020 ev400 s awd (294kw)

2020 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S review

Rating: 8.0
$108,500 $129,030 Dealer
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This stunning electric car is a study in how far we’ve come – but trying to charge it proves there’s a way to go yet.
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Congratulations everybody, we’ve made it. This is the stuff they made all those sci-fi movies about. It’s what The Jetsons promised to us as children. It’s halfway to the galaxy James Cameron created in Avatar. The 2020 Jaguar I-Pace is officially a spaceship on wheels.

What kind of car is the Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S?

I’ve driven a small handful of electric cars and hybrids so far in my time at CarAdvice, but none as fancy (or expensive) as the 2020 Jaguar I-Pace. Starting at $124,100 plus on-road costs without options, it’s an all-electric car that’s arguably one of the most premium of its kind on Australian roads.

Jaguar calls the I-Pace a “performance SUV”, but I’d suggest the body type is somewhere between a saloon and a crossover. Like its animal kingdom namesake, the I-Pace is a smooth and silent predator with a streamlined, muscular frame that sits a little higher than your average sedan and a little lower than your average SUV, propped up on massive (optional) 22-inch wheels. Even stationary, it resembles a leaping big cat.

The I-Pace is an all-wheel-drive car powered by two electric motors – one at the front and one at the rear – with power stored in a 90kWh battery pack. The car offers a claimed range of 470km on a single charge (according to WLTP figures), and together the two motors deliver a whopping maximum power output of 294kW/696Nm and a top speed of 200km/h.

The I-Pace tested here is the EV400 S, the entry-level variant, which sits below both the mid-range EV400 SE and the flagship EV400 HSE.

Is the Jaguar I-Pace a well-priced car compared to its competitors?

Technically, the Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S is the most 'affordable' I-Pace you can buy, starting at $124,100 plus on-road costs. Comparatively, the mid-spec SE starts at $135,400 plus on-road costs and the top-spec HSE is $146,000 plus on-road costs.

Electric cars are typically more expensive than their petrol-powered counterparts because their batteries are pricier to produce and they don't yet benefit from the economies of scale applied to mainstream vehicles. Plus, there aren’t many premium electric compact SUVs on offer in Australia, so it’s tricky to contextualise the I-Pace in its class.

Possibly the I-Pace’s most relevant competitor, Mercedes-Benz’s larger EQC electric SUV, starts at $137,900 plus on-road costs for the sole variant on offer. Tesla’s Model X, meanwhile, starts at $151,869 plus on-road costs. The I-Pace will also compete with the Audi e-tron when that lands in June, priced from $137,700 plus on-road costs.

However, with a long and extremely expensive list of options fitted, the car tested here came to $155,619 plus on-road costs, eclipsing all the aforementioned models – including the top-spec I-Pace – and adding $31,519 to the list price. Lesson: it might be simpler and cheaper to just opt for the top-spec version and call it a day.

For those shopping the 2021 Jaguar I-Pace range, which was unveiled in June 2020, the base S variant rises to $128,860 plus on-road costs, an increase of almost $5000.

What is the Jaguar I-Pace like to drive?

From the second you put your foot on the accelerator in the I-Pace, it’s clear it’s not your average car. The only way I can describe the ride is to borrow a dated and, quite frankly, overused sci-fi trope and compare it to a hovercraft. It’s so silent, quick and smooth it feels like you’re not even touching the road.

The $2002 air suspension optioned on the I-Pace I drove was incredibly absorbent of road irregularities and, for lack of a better description, genuinely gives you the sense you’re coasting a few centimetres above the ground.

The car’s athletic stance (it literally has cat-like back haunches) eliminates any sense of body roll or unwieldiness while handling at higher speeds, on winding roads or moving quickly into corners.

The unique design lends a ‘best of both worlds’ behind-the-wheel feel. The elevated ride height and extra visibility can make you feel like you’re in a bigger, taller car, but the effortless yet direct steering gives the illusion of a smaller, lighter vehicle, as does the 11.98m turning circle.

I was surprised to learn the I-Pace’s 0–100km/h sprint time was 4.8 seconds, because it feels far faster thanks to the instant torque delivered by the two motors. Putting your foot down makes you feel like you’re moving at warp speed – entirely silent and absolutely immediate. It’s a pretty sensational feeling.

Inside, the I-Pace feels less like a car and more like a spaceship – the cabin is eerily devoid of tyre noise, road noise and vibrations, and has plenty of light and visibility thanks to broad windows and a wide rear windshield. This is only exacerbated by the total lack of engine noise, bar a very faint whirring you can only hear if you’re paying attention.

Aside from how quiet it is, the other thing that will take some getting used to is the lack of roll in the I-Pace. Unlike other cars, it's stationary unless you're hitting the accelerator. Enter: Crawl mode. This is essentially a setting introduced so the I-Pace can at least pretend to act like a normal car, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator doing his best human impression in order to blend in.

With Crawl mode on, you’re able to more easily manoeuvre in and out of car parks or edge forward with precision. Without it, the car won’t move unless you hit the accelerator, which can be a disconcerting feeling and a bit dicey in crowded car parks or side streets.

Similarly, you can alter the level of regenerative braking to suit your preferences. Having it on high can preserve and even charge the battery, but it’s aggressive enough that it’s essentially like using the friction brake because the car slows down so quickly with your foot off the accelerator. As such, you can back this off to ‘low’ to create a driving feel more typical of your average car.

How do you charge the Jaguar I-Pace?

Charging the I-Pace is where things get tricky. Per the WLTP cycle, Jaguar promises 470km of range on a full charge and efficiency of 24.8kWh/100km (the highest/least economical figures with the heaviest set of options). My trip computer told me I was using an average of 41.6kWh/100km during my time in the car – almost double the quoted consumption. If that were petrol, I'd be fuming (pun intended).

I set off on a trip down the Great Ocean Road with 274km of range, or 62 per cent battery capacity, remaining and wore it down to just 74km, or 19 per cent capacity, by the time we arrived at our destination.

When you input your route into the satellite navigation on the I-Pace, it will estimate how much range you will have left when you arrive at your destination. For that trip it told me we’d have 35 per cent capacity remaining, so it was roughly 16 per cent off the mark.

Since we were in a small beach town, we decided to charge using a standard wall socket. We plugged it in at 8pm and left it until 10am, when we came out to find it had only charged to 50 per cent battery capacity after 14 hours, meaning we had only 182km of range left for a roughly 130km trip – a little too close for comfort.

With no fast-charging site on our route home, we were forced to risk it – so I turned on ‘low power mode’, which basically cuts out climate control in order to conserve battery, and hoped for the best. We arrived back home with exactly 52km, or 13 per cent capacity, remaining – our calculations had thankfully been correct.

Another night of charging via an extension cord in my in-laws’ garage (I don’t have off-street parking) saw the battery charge rise from 13 to 42 per cent after another full night of charging. Dissatisfied, I decided to call in the professionals and used my Plugshare app to locate the closest Chargefox station (the I-Pace gets five free years of unlimited charging on the Chargefox network).

To charge the I-Pace at a public site, you’ll need a special charging cable that costs an extra $425 and is pretty heavy and cumbersome to carry around. When I arrived at the Chargefox Type 2 station, I battled with the writhing mass of the cord and finally figured out how to plug it in and activate the charging station.

Alas, when I came back after a 20-minute shopping trip, no charge had been added to the car and the charging status had reverted to ‘INITIALISING’. At this point, my internal monologue took a very expletive-laden turn.

Further investigations by Jaguar Land Rover revealed the Battery Energy Control Module (BECM) on the car required an update to fix the charging initialisation problem, meaning that even if I had been able to locate a fast charger, it may not have worked.

Of course, people shopping in this price bracket are likely to go the whole hog and have a dedicated at-home wall charger installed. But even then, if the software isn’t kept updated or the slightest thing goes wrong, this could mean they’re left stranded even after a full night of charging.

What kind of interior space does the Jaguar I-Pace have?

Charging woes aside, one of the main benefits of an electric powertrain is increased space in the cabin. The I-Pace boasts an airy, light-filled cabin that was further amplified by the optional $3380 fixed panoramic roof, which is without a cover but tinted to effectively prevent sun glare. In the back seat, there’s loads of leg and head room, plus USB ports and individual seat heaters.

In addition to the 650L of boot space (a total ‘wet’ volume figure that’s possibly a little lower in terms of usable space), there is 27L of storage under the front bonnet in the form of a neat pocket that’s, hilariously, the perfect size for a handbag. While the boot is deep length-wise, it’s somewhat shallow height-wise and you won’t be getting the family dog in there. The elegantly appointed cabin also features clever smart storage solutions throughout, like a little dish that covers the cupholders and is perfect for your wallet and keys.

The heated and cooled, 14-way electronically adjustable cream leather performance seats are comfortable enough and ridiculously stylish. You’d want them to be, too, for the extra $10,348 they command (including rear seat heaters). They also recline so far back that your head is level with the rear door handles, allowing you to nap while your car charges (you might be there a while, after all).

Is the Jaguar I-Pace a safe car?

As standard, the I-Pace EV400 S receives most modern safety basics you’d want in a car, including city-speed autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a rear-view camera, cruise control, and speed sign recognition with adaptive speed limiter.

However, unless you opt for the $3970 driver assist pack, you won’t get high-speed autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, blind-spot assist and the 360-degree surround camera.

It received a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2018, but scored lower for vulnerable road-user protection and safety-assist technologies.

The I-Pace is backed by a free five-year service plan and five-year roadside assistance, with a five-year, 200,000km warranty (two years and 100,000km more than other Jaguar models) and an eight-year battery warranty.

What standard equipment and infotainment does the Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S have?

As standard, the I-Pace EV400 S scores keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB+ digital radio, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights and a 10.0-inch central touchscreen.

A head-up display is around $1000 extra, a power tailgate and boot lid is $585, privacy glass is another $845, and folding heated side mirrors will add another $780 to the total price.

Should I buy the Jaguar I-Pace EV400 S?

In 2020 model-year form, the Jaguar I-Pace is close but no cigar. It’s undoubtedly got that special look and feel you’d want from a premium, all-electric SUV, but the charging issues could rule it out for many.

It’s expensive, particularly when you add options, but the price tag is evident in everything from the cabin layout to the thoughtful finishes and behind-the-wheel feel. It’s just the practicality side of things where the I-Pace falls down.

With the 2021 model-year ushering in updates to the charging system, including the addition of an 11kW onboard charger for faster at-home charging, plus an improved infotainment system and more driver tech as standard, my hopes are the kinks will eventually be ironed out.

Because this is an exceptional car with plenty of potential – it’s just a way off being fully realised.

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