New Jaguar I-Pace ride review

We've been to Los Angeles for a first ride in the new 395bhp all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV

2018 is the year Tesla will cease to have things its own way, with Jaguar the first brand aiming for a slice of the premium all-electric market.

The I-Pace SUV is set to be in showrooms in mid-2018 and Auto Express was invited on one of the car’s final testing sessions in California. The broken and busy streets of West Hollywood are ideal for an assessment of a pre-production car, built in the new I-Pace factory in Graz, Austria.

Jaguar I-Pace concept review

We’re invited to sit alongside powertrain programme manager Simon Patel, who tells us that I-Pace has already undergone 1.5 million miles of testing. And although this is a version of the car you’ll be able to buy, Jaguar is remaining coy on power output. Reading between the lines, it’ll be pretty close (if not identical) to the concept car’s 395bhp and 700NM of torque from its 90kWh battery and two electric motors – one on each axle.

From the moment Patel accelerates away from Mel’s Diner on Sunset Boulevard, it’s clear this car is production-ready and very quick. It also lets out an infectious whine with the note rising as the car accelerates – not unlike Jaguar’s Formula E racer.

“Quite a bit of effort has gone into the noise to avoid something annoying and turning it into something more pleasing,” says Patel.

• Best electric cars on sale right now

Apparently working on noise, vibration and harshness has been one of the biggest challenges his team has faced, given the apparent amplification of some noises due to the silence of the electric motors. “We have to get the level of refinement expected of a Jaguar,” Patel tells us.

And although this car runs on 22-inch wheels, the ride is on the sporty, rather than harsh, side of firm – there’s still a fair degree of comfort from the continually variable dampers and air suspension and the car reacts swiftly to Patel’s sudden tugs on the steering wheel, mimicking going through a quick chicane, yet keeping the body flat and controlled.

• Best 4x4s and SUVs on sale

The car runs in four-wheel drive all of the time, but can vary the ratio of power to each axle. And the push-button drive selector offers two modes: one that apes an internal combustion engine’s acceleration and cruising, and one that provides more engine braking so you can effectively drive the car on one pedal.

And as Patel sees a gap open up along Rodeo drive, he floors the throttle and we instantly get wedged back into our seat to feel the brutal force of all-electric acceleration – the concept claimed a 0-60mph time of 4.0 seconds and that feels conservative.

When we re-gather our composure, we get to look around inside what is an SUV with similar leg and headroom to an E-Pace, but with an airier feel in the front due to the big glass windscreen. Visibility out of the back looks a little compromised, though.

And although there’s thick black cloth covering the dash, we can glimpse plenty of black glossy surfaces mixed with metallic elements to give a futuristic but classy feel inside.

The covers will come off next March when prices will be announced and order books opened, in advance of deliveries mid-year. With prices expected to start at around £60,000 and on the basis of our ride in this production-ready prototype, we’d expect Jaguar dealers to be very busy. And Tesla retailers to start getting a little twitchy.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'
Opinion - average car
Opinion

'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'

Mike Rutherford says it's increasingly easy for them, and far harder for us, to earn enough for our new cars
20 Jun 2021