The Jaguar I-Pace Concept is the biggest sign of company’s move into electric vehicles – and perhaps the most significant attempt at making a pretty car that just happens to be electric.
Unveiled Tuesday at a Jaguar event ahead of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show using both virtual reality goggles and sitting on a turntable, the I-Pace was shown to journalists in the flesh, presented in part by designer Ian Callum.
The Jaguar Design Director explained the intentional move to make a sporty little SUV with a cab forward design to take advantage of the superior packaging of putting the batteries under the floor. It’s a little weird, but special-looking like a Jaguar should be.
While the company’s officials are adamant it’s an SUV, the I-Pace looks like an SUV in the same way the Infiniti QX30 and Mercedes-Benz GLA do, and they look like hatchbacks. The sharply sloped rear glass and stubby deck make it look sedan-like from some angles. But overall, it’s an attractive car that should still look attractive when it’s toned down slightly for production.
The benefit of all this, however, is that there is a lot of space inside, far more than its footprint implies. A panoramic roof gives off on the concept gives off an airy feel, too. Legroom is said to be on par with rivals from the midsize class and the cargo hold is surprisingly long and deep. The I-Pace looks to be an immensely practical package.
Powering the concept are electric motors at the front and rear axles. The two motors produce a combined 400 horsepower and 700 Nm of torque with permanent all-wheel drive. A 90kW battery and rapid charging allow for a targeted 500 kM range (310 miles) – in the ballpark of what the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt target.
Also pulling a page from Tesla, Jaguar is already taking reservations on their website, Jaguar.com, although they aren’t taking $1,000 deposits for the car that’s about two years away from dealerships. Still, it’s likely this will be the first Jaguar with a big online sales push.
Jaguar officials said the production I-Pace would be shown next year at an auto show, with the car set to go on sale in the second half of 2018 – in all 50 U.S. states, too. It may be a brother to the hot-selling F-Pace, but the I-Pace is so much more than a small Jaguar SUV. Its style, packaging and whole mission in life will be significant towards securing JLR’s future in an increasingly electrified automotive world – and a truly desirable luxury EV, at that.
Photos: Zac Estrada and Jaguar