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Jaguar I-Pace expands luxury EV market

The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV (all-electric vehicle) is counter to virtually every crossover/SUV on the market. I-Pace is a big yardstick to gauge whether Jaguar can deliver on its promise to fully electrify, or electrically assist all its luxury/performance vehicles for 2020.

Here’s what I discovered while test driving several Euro-spec I-Paces.

The starting point for the I-Pace is a pair of 95 percent-efficient Jaguar-designed dual e-motors. These motors are synchronous permanent magnet units with concentric transmissions designed to connect the motors with both axles. The total system output is a surprising 394 horsepower and a massive 512 lb.-ft. of torque.

Battery

The battery consists of a compact nickel, manganese, and cobalt composition. It’s heavy, as it has to hold enough juice to provide 240 miles of range, I got about 221 miles. Engineers tucked the battery below the floor to improve the center of gravity and cut interior space intrusion.

A 100kW DC fast charger will provide about an 80 percent charge in about 40 minutes. A 7kW wall box charger will require about 13 hours to fully charge a depleted battery, according to Jaguar.

Performance

Taking the I-Pace out and putting it in Dynamic mode, I was impressed by the acceleration (0-60 in 4.5 seconds) quiet response and smooth takeoff.

Jaguar went to the parts bin to source the I-Pace’s double-wishbone front suspension from the F-Type. Out back, there’s a reworked version of the integral-link suspension used in E-Pace and F-Pace.

I-Pace feels like a regular EV with weighted low-speed steering feel (good for aggressive drives), the adjustable re-gen braking can be set to light or more progressive application. You can lower ride height 1.6 inches using an optional, height-adjustable air suspension.

Off-Road

I-Pace comes with aggressive performance tires and a 50/50 weight balance. This performance hardware allows it to handle a racetrack road course (Autodrumo Internacional del Algarve), provide a luxurious ride in town or highway and go off-road.

You can raise I-Pace 2.0 inches for off-road clearance and water crossings. Using the adjustable height setting, AWD and low speed, I drove this electric vehicle through a stream nearly two feet deep (battery pack submerged), full of rocks and at least 50 yards long. I exited by driving up a very steep and long hillside trail with light wheel spin and no clearance issues.

Exterior

I-Pace’s exterior features a low roof height, plenty of body bends and angles all carefully designed to manage aerodynamics to aid mileage. A big Jaguar mesh grille, signature headlights, and fenders are all present.

I-Pace rolls on huge 20-inch tires (22’s are available) providing an aggressive contact patch you don’t find on other EVs. Jaguar brings back “cab-forward” design with a long wheelbase and short overhangs.

Interior

While classified as a compact crossover, the styling and interior space made me think of I-Pace as a mid-size.

Inside, an immense dash contains big digital gauges along with a 5-inch screen and 10-inch touchscreen for infotainment using the Touch Pro Duo system. The navigation system employs artificial intelligence so, I-Pace can learn your driving style. It can also program your drive route around charging stations-nice touch.

Leather seats are comfortable for normal drives and supportive during aggressive track driving. A flat floor provides impressive foot/leg room and rear seating is good for two. An immense, solid UV coated (no fabric shade), piece of tinted glass forms the roof-a shade should be optional. One gripe is the very short sun visors that don’t cover enough of front passenger windows.

After all the testing (performance, on/off-road) was completed, the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace creates the standard for performance, luxury, off-road EV vehicles that others must follow.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication