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2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 SE performance review

By Trent Giunco, 18 Apr 2019 Reviews

2019 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 SE performance review feature

Addictive speed could leave I-Pace buyers stuck begging for a spark

Addictions are all-consuming – a sensation that fills you with an insatiable need to live through an experience with endless repetition. The satanic acceleration of a performance-orientated electric vehicle (EV), like Jaguar’s I-Pace EV400, gives you that.

You know it’s going to hurt your overall range, but the hunger to be thrown back into the seat needs to be satiated. And with 100 per cent of the 696Nm of torque arriving from standstill, the urge is too great.

The theory behind something like the I-Pace (or a Tesla) is becoming sound. But the fact that the first true Elon Musk fighter, a somewhat ‘normal’ SUV-thing, has come from the usually conservative Brits seems anything but commonplace. Its cabin-forward design, said to emulate the C-X75 supercar concept, is striking, filled with concept-car touches and is cloaked in an SUV-cum-coupe silhouette.

However, normal is an adjective often befitting the I-Pace. The interior features a host of knobs and controls pilfered from the JLR family as well as the fancy Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. The middle-spec SE we’re testing here is positively upmarket and justifies its $130,200 price tag.

Premium materials abound and the sound deadening has been amped up to cancel road noise given this cat is sans an internal-combustion engine. There’s a Meridian stereo if your track isn’t The Sound of Silence.

Related: I-Pace vs Model X on paper

The thing is, you don’t get addicted to normal. And with a combined output of 294kW and 696Nm from the synchronous permanent magnet electric motors (one for each axle creating all-wheel drive), it is bloody quick. It feels every bit as fast as the performance claims.

And it’s not just off the line, with the Jag tackling 80km/h-plus overtaking manoeuvres with vigour – although the rate of progress drops significantly the closer you get to its 200km/h top speed. Activate Dynamic mode for heightened responses and the I-Pace emits a very ‘cool’ Jetsons-esque tone.

Storing the energy to propel the I-Pace is the 90kWh lithium-ion battery stowed in the chassis floor to create a low centre of gravity and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Its construction is also 94 per cent aluminium despite tipping the scales at 2133kg.

That weight is dealt with amicably, too, with roll impressively quelled, if not overt body movements. And despite torque vectoring, the overzealous stability control can become tiresome.

Rolling on the smaller 20-inch wheels and with the $2002 optional adaptive electronic air suspension, the SE’s ride quality is cosseting and confidence inspiring no matter what the speed.

While there’s no price to pay at a traditional service station, there is in terms of liveability. Exercise your right foot too much and the range plummets. Those unfortunate enough to err on the nervous side beware – range anxiety is real.

Take liberties with the fact the I-Pace can reach 100km/h in 4.8sec and the claimed range of 480km quickly becomes comical. Put the shoe on the other foot and you’ll hardly need the left pedal given the aggressive regenerative braking, which is predominately taken care of by the front motor as it harvests as much dissipating kinetic energy as possible.

Finding a public, specialised 100kW charging station is vital as you’re treated to an 80 per cent ‘refill’ in ‘just’ 40 minutes.

As good as the Jaguar’s I-Pace is in terms of normalising EVs, it’s hamstrung in a performance context despite having reserves of it within its battery-packed floor.

The reality is that you can never get far enough away from the CBD to truly exploit its inherent dynamic abilities. It means that you’re confined to city limits and end up dragging unsuspecting HSVs at traffic lights to get your kicks.

Ultimately it’s an addiction without enough convenience to fuel it.

All about the drive on MOTOR car reviews

Twin synchronous permanent magnet
Power: 294Kw (combined)
Torque: 696Nm (combined)
Weight: 2133kg
0-100km/h: 4.8sec (claimed)
Price: $119,900 ($145,757 as tested)

Like: Addictive surge of power; keen, car-like handling for a heavy EV; ‘normalness’
Dislike: Range anxiety is real; lack of infrastructure; not overtly engaging; exxy options

RATING: 4.0 out of 5.0