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Jaguar I-PACE: An Electric Personality Unveiled In Los Angeles

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more of a thing with car makers, especially at auto shows. They seem to serve two functions. One is to showcase technical abilities in a burgeoning arena, and the other seems to be as a hedge against the growing possibility that EVs might be mandated by law.

The I-PACE is Jag’s latest salvo in this ring.

Okay, before we dig into this, let me just get one thing straight as a string . . .

Proper Phonetics

It is pronounced JAG-whar. It is not, as the British insist, pronounced JAG-yoo-ar. No. No it is not. Jaguar is a shortened version of the Portuguese word jaguarundi (roughly translated as “world beast”) which is most definitely pronounced JAG-whar-un-dee.

So, it is JAG-whar. Got it? Good.

“This is an uncompromising electric vehicle designed from a clean sheet of paper: we’ve developed a new architecture and selected only the best technology available,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart, Technical Design Director. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Electric Personalities

Meet the Jaguar I-PACE (all caps) show car. Yes for now it is a show car, but like any automaker worth its salt around show season, any and all cars are “being considered for production.” And Jag is serious about it this time with the I-PACE.

Consider it a shot across the bow of Tesla, acknowledged world leader in EVs, and it’s Model X SUV. From Jaguar’s perspective, especially its marketing perspective, going after the SUV end of things, and especially the EV portion of that sub-market makes a lot of sense.

EVs are the hot trend for a certain caste of well-healed buyers. They have statements to make and the cash to make them. Just look at who Jag is touting as being guests at the rollout of the I-PACE in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show: actress Michelle Rodriguez, late night-talk show host James Corden, supermodel Miranda Kerr, musician Gavin Rossdale, model David Gandy, and Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Shoot, I don’t even know who half of those people are.

I guess that Derek Zoolander and Hansel were busy swimming with spider monkeys off the coast of St. Barts?

Using a public 50kW DC charging network, a full charge will take just over two hours. Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Ride & Handling

Jaguar emphasizes the I-PACE will arrive with “precise, agile driving dynamics as yet unseen on an electric vehicle.” Which I should hope, because Jags, since time immemorial, handled like a kitten on shag carpet (see what I did there?). Even their big sedans, the Mark 2s and Mark 10s in particular, have a chassis with amazing levels of grip.

Then again there’s that qualifier of “unseen on an electric vehicle.”

First, that’s a shot against Tesla vehicles, which actually handle quite nicely, thank you. And second, seems to hedge against the fact the I-PACE, like all other EVs, is going to be hauling around a literal ton and a half of batteries. And if Saint Colin of Chapman showed us anything, it’s that more weight does not aid in handling.

So this will be an interesting engineering version of “irresistible force versus immovable object.”

Jaguar assures us the I-PACE production model will be on the road in 2018, but it will be different looking from the show car, and probably more expensive then you first thought. Jag’s show car track record these days ain’t the best, sadly.

Power & Performance

Other noticeable performance data (which is always lacking on show cars) is how the I-PACE accelerates to 60 mph in around 4 seconds, and features a 90kWh battery with an estimated range of 220 miles (EPA cycle). Neither of those figures seem out of the realm of possibility, although a range of 220 miles is a little low (a bad thing) and a zero to 60 blast of “around 4 seconds” is okay for something that weighs that much (a good thing, even though no weight figures are provided – I’m just guessing this thing’s going to tip the scales at slightly less than Westminster Abbey).

The I-PACE is all-wheel drive via twin-electric motors generating 516-lb-ft. of torque and 400 horsepower. Both figures are impressive, and I’d love to see that drivetrain slapped into something smaller, lighter, and more like a D-Type, but that’s just me.

“Electric motors provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts, and no interruptions,” said Ian Hoban, Vehicle Line Director. “Their superior torque delivery compared to internal combustion engines transforms the driving experience.” Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

Styling & Design

At one point, the Coventry company says “Jaguar tears up the rule book creating the I-PACE concept with supercar looks, sports car performance, and SUV space, all in one electric package.” Which is groan inducing on the face of it, and also brings up the rather sad state of the way the I-PACE looks.

The styling is a distressing mixture of “OO, nice” combined with “MY EYES! MY EYES! THE GOGGLES, THEY DO NOTHING!!”

There’s enough strange, tacked on bits and pieces (rocker panels, I’m looking at you) to give Sergio Pininfarina the heebeegeebees and make Boyd Coddington rise from the grave in anger. And don’t get me started on that tumblehome.

Ian Callum, Director of Design, perjured: “It’s a dramatic, future-facing cab-forward design with a beautiful interior – the product of authentic Jaguar DNA, electric technology and contemporary craftsmanship.”

Yeah, okay, the interior is kind of nice, but Ian, Ian, pal, do you know Chris Bangle? Because when he started using words like “dramatic” and “future-facing” at BMW, sales dropped like an anchor and the local townsfolk ran him out of Bavaria with pitchforks and torches on a big wooden cart.

Photo: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC.

In Person

Anyway, this is a show car, and show cars have a distinct habit of changing between auto show and showroom, so here’s hoping they get some of those hiccoughs get ironed out. Other than that, this is (probably) a good move for Jaguar to make.

Now, to see what the price point is and just exactly how it drives. Those are what will make the I-PACE a hit.

In the meantime, the vehicle will be on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, November 18th through the 27th. Or if you don’t need to see it in person, click the “I want one” button on Jaguar’s website.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Jaguar I-PACE Gallery

Photos & Source: Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC