The 2016 Paris Motor Show will be remembered as the time big car manufacturers flicked the switch and committed to electric mobility. Mercedes and Volkswagen both unveiled their take on mainstream battery power, and Renault added a bit of spark to the mix with the Trezor. Now, Jaguar has decided to get in on the act with the I-Pace Concept.
Although it's a concept at the moment, the I-Pace is already slated for production in 2018, the same time as Audi plans to launch the E-Tron SUV and a full two years ahead of the Mercedes Generation EQ. High-riding family cars are selling like hotcakes at the moment, so it's no surprise to see the category emerge as a crucial battleground for electric cars. What is a bit surprising is just how good Jaguar has managed to make the I-Pace look.
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If anyone was going to make electric four-wheel drives sexy, it was Ian Callum. He's the man responsible for the (gorgeous) F-Type, the (stunning) XJ and the (handsome) XE, and boy has he nailed the brief here. Although it doesn't have a traditional silhouette, the car just looks right in a way the Tesla Model X never does.
"I think what's really great about this car is that we didn't set ourselves any rules," says Callum. "Don't try and make it look like an F-Type or give it an E-Type boat tail because that's nice to have. Just accept the fact that this is a whole new vehicle and takes Jaguar's rules to a whole new level."
The design is very pretty, but the real thinking has gone into making it practical as well. For one, pushing the windscreen forward frees up lots of space in the cabin, allowing this midsize four-wheel drive to offer up legroom and luggage space to rival much bigger cars. According to Jaguar the shape is good for Cd (drag coefficient) of 0.29 – good for a four-wheel drive, but still chunky compared to the latest BMW 5 Series and Audi A4.
Underneath the body sits a liquid-cooled 90 kWh lithium-ion battery, which makes use of a clever thermal management system to maximize range. Scavenging outside air, using it to cool the battery and then feeding that heated air into the cabin when the driver turns the heater on, Jaguar says, could can offer a double-digit increase in range.
In all, the I-Pace should be able to cover more than 311 mi (500 km) on a single charge, putting it right beside the Generation EQ and Tesla Model X. When it's time to top up, a DC 50 kW system will provide 80 percent charge in just 90 minutes, with a full charge set to take two hours.
Charging isn't the only thing the car will do quickly. With 395 hp (295 kW) of power and 700 Nm (516 lb.ft) of torque on tap, the 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint will take just over four seconds. That's slower than Ludicrous Mode-equipped Teslas, but still quick for a big family car.
Beyond the straight line performance, Jaguar has made a big deal of returning to its sporting roots with a clever integral-link suspension system. We were seriously impressed by the flat-handling XE S when we reviewed it earlier this year, and the F-Pace has won praise for the way it corners, so we're expecting big things from the I-Pace.
Interiors, though, are a point of weakness at Jaguar. Compared to the Germans, who have refined their infotainment systems and material choices to the point of near perfection, the cabins in recent big cats have felt a bit behind the curve.
With a massive touchscreen, sumptuous materials and panoramic moonroof, the concept seems to put most of those issues to bed, although it will be interesting to see how much concept flair makes it to production.
As you'd imagine, there are no concrete details about the car's price or spec options. Jaguar is accepting expressions of interest at the moment. The I-Pace is on display at the Los Angeles Motor Show, where New Atlas will be on the ground covering all the action. You can hear Ian Callum explain his design in the video below.