Jaguar guns for Tesla with the I-Pace Concept

Who would have imagined Tesla's full-electric Model X SUV would see a rival as early as 2018 from Jaguar? Yes, the British luxury car-maker pulled a proverbial cat out of the bag during the run up to the 2016 Los Angeles International Auto Show by taking the wraps off its I-Pace Concept. It might only be Jaguar's second-ever SUV after the stylish F-Pace but, crucially, it leaps ahead with its fully electrified drive-train.

When we post on Jaguars, we usually begin with describing how beautiful they are to look at. But this isn't a regular Jag. This is Jaguar trying to make a statement against its more popular rivals - Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus included. This is Jaguar announcing its leap, pun intended, from internal combustion engines straight to zero-emission full-electric vehicles, skipping the usual step of plug-in hybrids in between.

Powering the I-Pace are two electric motors, one each at the front and rear axles. Together, they generate 394 horsepower and a whopping 700 Nm of instant torque. With zero lag, no transmission losses and all-wheel drive traction, the I-Pace can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4 seconds flat. That's close to Jaguar's own F-Type SVR, a thoroughbred sports car. 

A 90 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, designed and developed by Jaguar, is an integral part of the I-Pace Concept's body structure. Located beneath the floor and between the axles, the lightweight, liquid-cooled pack can be charged to its full capacity in about 2 hours on a 50 kW fast-charging DC station. Once charged, Jaguar claims the I-Pace can go more than 500 km on the European NEDC combined cycle and more than 220 miles on the US EPA cycle. That's a wee bit less than Model X's claimed-and-tested range but we are nit-picking here.

With such credentials, one would have forgiven Jaguar for giving up on form over function when designing the I-Pace. Fact is, they haven't. The I-Pace Concept is quite a looker in its own right and every bit a Jaguar. The brand’s distinctive trapezoidal grille with hexagonal grids has not been chucked out like in many other electric vehicles. It still occupies prime position up front flanked on either sides by full LED headlights with ‘Double-J’ Daytime Running Lights. In the absence of an engine underneath, the hood is scooped out to reduce drag. The profile is sweet with short overhangs and a long wheelbase that gives the I-Pace Concept classic proportions. The cabin is brought forward and sits low compared to regular SUVs. Flush door handles and the flowing waist line that leads to muscular rear haunches not just look beautiful but also aid aerodynamics. At the rear, the fastback-like sloping windshield, F-Type inspired taillights and functional rear vents that replace the conventional tailpipe stand out.

Being a concept, Jaguar has taken full liberty to come up with a minimalist yet futuristic cabin. A configurable 12-inch virtual HD instrument cluster and a full-colour Head-up Display ensure the driver is presented with all the information needed at all times. The dashboard has a 12-inch primary TFT touchscreen supported by an auxiliary 5.5-inch secondary touchscreen that lets users change multimedia and climate control settings without interrupting the main multimedia screen’s display. Those tactile rotary controllers with a rich knurled finish for the climate control system look fantastic and lifts the cabin ambiance. The floating center console and the absence of transmission tunnel liberates a lot of space, making the I-Pace a spacious and comfortable vehicle to travel around. In fact, the flat second row’s legroom and the 530-litre boot space at the rear complemented by a 28-liter luggage compartment under the hood rival larger SUVs and sedans.

Slated to go on sale in 2018, the I-Pace will begin a new chapter in Jaguar-Land Rover’s history, with the scalable electric architecture allowing the two brands to come up with more battery-powered vehicles as and when they find it appropriate. So, Model X isn't the only model Tesla should be worried about. 

In the press release, Ian Hoban, Jaguar’s vehicle line director is quoted as saying “Electric vehicles are inevitable - Jaguar will make them desirable”. We couldn’t summarize the I-Pace better. Kudos Jaguar, on a job well done!

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