For the next week, my daily driver is Jaguar’s first all-electric SUV (crossover), the I-PACE. After spending the best part of yesterday behind the wheel and having done some 400km+ in mixed conditions, it’s time to detail my first thoughts on the car ahead of a full review after I hand back the keys.
The first thing you notice about the I-PACE is its good looks. I like the design, it feels like a sophisticated evolution of the BMW i3, larger and more capable. The review unit comes in Indus Silver, however I also seen the Caesium Blue in person and that looked very nice as well.
The silver is much more of a sleeper car, there’s almost no turning heads until you pull up to the lights next to a Commodore driver, plant your foot and leave them behind . Between that instant torque and great cornering and feel through the wheel, this car is just plain fun to drive.
The I-PACE uses a smart AWD system which delivers stability and traction control, delivering all the power from the battery, to the front and rear electric motors and ultimately out through the wheels. These motors provide 294kW and 696Nm of useable instant torque.
After negotiating my way through Melbourne traffic and out on to the Hume for a few overtakes (please use cruise control people), the I-PACE’s performance is impressive. Planting your right foot means the car can accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. After having driven the Model S and Model X from Tesla, I was concerned this car would feel slow. While it’s not at the same level (or price bracket), the car feels fast which ultimately translates to a fun driving experience.
Inside the leather-wrapped electronically adjustable seats were very comfortable and that’s after stopping only a couple of times on a 4 hour drive. The lack of lumbar support was a bit of surprise for a car at this price point, but to be honest, I didn’t have a sore back when I jumped out, so I’m happy. The position of the seat can be set to one of 3 driver profiles (1 more than our Honda CRV) with buttons on the driver’s door used to switch between them, or alternatively you can associate a driver to a set of keys.
In terms of infotainment, Jaguar have no less than 3 displays in the cockpit. The primary one in front of the driver can be customised, or rather modified to one of a number of presents.
The level of actual customisation is little more than deciding if the right or left has the music artwork or the navigation instructions. While the default interface uses a modern single central dial, it is possible to move to a more traditional dual-dial interface which feels a lot more familiar, even if it’s not delivering RPM and Speed, but rather Speed and Battery usage. Great to see Jaguar offering some personalisation here.
The center display is an ultrawide aspect ratio and Jaguar’s InControl interface isn’t a bad one when it comes to built-in car OS’s. The display is clear and crisp and responsive. What is missing is the built-in SIM card, however there’s a slot in the center armrest to add your own and give your car that always connected experience. Seeing Jaguar miss this step and having maps unable to deliver live traffic data, shows how successful the Tesla embedded SIM card deal with Telstra really is. It’s seamless and the driver doesn’t have to think about it.
Like most other automakers today, Jaguar also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, just connect your device to the USB port. The problem here is the giant phone holder features a USB port for both the driver and the passenger. Instantly I thought that’s a nice, tidy solution for housing your phone and avoiding cables running everywhere. In reality, to use your phones OS on the central screen, you need to connect it to the USB port in the center console under your armrest, which means there’s now a messy cable running to your phone in the phone tray.
This isn’t particularly well thought through, but again highlights the need for wireless Android Auto. The second aspect that needs work is the ultrawide screen isn’t currently supported by Android Auto. This means there’s massive black bars on either side of the AA UI. I posted on Twitter and Will was quick to follow up with a post from 9to5Google that suggests widescreen support is coming in a new update (I checked, nothing yet).
In terms of range, the I-PACE is rated for around 470km from its 90kWh battery, however I was a little taken back to see the range figure around 352km when I jumped into a fully charged car (99%). I had planned to stop at Euroa for my first non-Tesla charging experience, but this range meant it was no longer a choice, it was required to make the 350km journey to Wodonga from Melbourne.
I’ve covered Chargefox in the past and today was the first chance I had to use their system. It’s all very straight forward and the instructions are even on the recharger. Just download the app, signup for an account, add your credit card and about 2 minutes later you can start charging your car.
When you’re at a charging location like Euroa with 4 chargers, each with 2 plug types (CCS and Chademo), the app gets users to select which charger and which plug they’ve connected to their car.
The mobile app for Chargefox allows you to not only find chargers nearby, but also remotely check the amount of charge you have in your car. Great if you head inside for a bite to eat like I did. I never received a push notification, although I didn’t wait for it to get to 100% charge.
This was very different than the Tesla experience of picking up a charging cable, pressing the button on the charger handle and having the charge door open, then simply connect and charging begins. Despite the system not being a seamless the first time, it is fairly straightforward and my second charge (really just testing at Logic, Wodonga) was a much faster experience.
So how much did it cost to charge and drive the 350km+ down the Hume? The answer is $0 and I’m not entirely sure why. I expected to pay a few dollars for the power I used, but I’m also not complaining, free is a great price, but on the Chargefox website, it does say locations can choose their pricing models. Its possible both Euroa and Logic, Wodonga service stations have elected not to charge customers to encourage adoption.
In terms of how long I was there, I spent around 30 minutes charging at Euroa on a 50kW Fast charger. This was capable of supplying the car with around 60km every 15 minutes. While I wish it was faster, as Paul points out, Jaguar has not yet shipped a firmware that would enable the I-PACE’s to accept up to 100kW charging. I really hope that arrives in the next 6 days.
I was also able to confirm the Logic, Wodonga site currently has 2x Fast chargers operational and in the next couple of days will have 2 Ultra-rapid chargers online. This means if the car can take it, it can supply up to 350kW, delivering a massive 400km in just 15 minutes. Yes please!
I actually spent around 5-10 minutes extra at Euroa, just working out how to remove the charging cable from the I-PACE. I tapped Stop in the app, the display on the charger suggested it was good to disconnect, but I had no luck. Thankfully a helpful friend on Twitter suggested pressing the Unlock key on the remote (car was already unlocked), I even opened the door to confirm, thankfully this did the trick and I was on my way.
Once I got the car home, there was a further opportunity to dive through the menus. Something I found that was interesting was the built-in browser. This is interesting, given Tesla has famously shipped their in-dash browser around the world, but it has not been available in Australia. The I-PACE browser actually does a fairly good job at rendering websites and as you’d expect, for safety, the car has to be stationary to use it.
All things considered, my first day with the I-PACE was a really successful one. I learnt a lot, much more than I’ve been able to detail here, that’ll have to wait for the full review. First impressions of the car are very good and it’s taken a lot of restraint to write this, instead of jumping behind the wheel again and enjoying that EV performance.