So the iPace… Tesla fanboys look away now, today I put the car through its paces across 3 disciplines at Millbrook proving ground, I then got driven by a pro around their handling circuit and finally had my 2nd road test in the car.
As we arrived a car company famous for safety may or may not have been there testing a fully autonomous car (big black box on the roof), you then follow a Jag with a ‘Follow Me’ sign on the rear into the circuit area travelling on just a few miles of the 43 miles of track.
We then arrived at Concept 1 (exhibit hall building) with a car park with probably ~30 iPace cars in all the colours lined up. Breakfast and then a welcome meeting (Room ~50% full, probably 15-20 people), behind us is an iPace stripped down to the main chassis with the battery packs (they’re pouches) exposed etc.
To be clear and fully transparent I’m a 3+ year Tesla owner, Tesla shareholder and therefore do have a vested interest in Tesla succeeding, however, I do also have a passion for all-electric vehicles so I will be honest and tell you what I do love about the iPace, how I think it should be improved and why you should buy it, I’m eager for this car to work for Jaguar and I hope it does as it’s a damn sight better than the rest of their range!
About the disciplines:
- Gated random sprint with live GPS and tracking measuring your time, distance travelled and accuracy going through the gates as you compete against the other drivers. The best score is the person that does it quickest whilst travelling the shortest distance and whilst keeping the car as close to the centre point between the flashing cones, each is weighted as 33% of your final score. Driving with an instructor.
- Alpine/Hill route (3 miles, repeated 3 times) – Following a pace car you do the route, superb fun I could have done this all day/week. Track is limited to 55mph but that is plenty for most of it. You pass the famous point where James Bond smashed-up an Aston Martin DBS. Driving alone with a pace car in front and 2-4 other cars behind/in-front of you.
- High / Constant Speed Circuit- 5 lane motorway with bank in a massive loop – Flat out until 100mph (requested limit but not enforced). Pretty boring tbh but cool to experience it, I cannot wait to do it at 250mph in a Tesla Roadster.
- An open forum where groups of 5 walked around the car chassis and spoke with a chap that I’ve met numerous times at these Jaguar events, it appears he’s their EV ‘Guru’, I did my best to not take over the session and although he wasn’t sure on the battery cooling exact method (I’ll come on to that) and said DC charging stops at 80% he was very welcoming and knowledgeable about the rest of the car and build.
- Pro drive on handling circuit 0.7M unrestricted speed
- Road test: A 13-mile loop switching drivers at the halfway point. Paired with your guest or alone.
- Road test any of the other Jaguar vehicles on a similar 10-mile road test, I picked an F-Pace, let’s just say I’m glad I drive an EV, it was OK but nothing more.
The event itself:
First of all, Jaguar lay on a great event (thank you if any of those organisers read this, yes I’m sure we have a few Jaguar staff members in here as well), it felt like they had twice the number of staff than actually required and whilst I missed out on a bacon butty and lunch wasn’t until after we left they did themselves proud, it was pretty flawless very well organised, all the drivers were freelance and didn’t work for Jaguar but had been doing this for a few weeks now (across the country) and obviously are trained drivers/ex racers etc. All the cars were fully charged this morning and no I didn’t see any diesel generators.
It was a wet day but the car gripped well.
It’s clear that Jaguar want to push this car as trouble free motoring, they really push the fact they drove from London to Brussels on one charge (229 miles) arriving with 8% battery and that they know how to build cars as they’ve been doing it for a while. It didn’t feel that salesy, Tesla were referenced a couple of times (e.g. battery warranty & it lasting a long time) and they referenced the iPace having a larger range than other EVs which left connotations in my mind (& presumably others) that they were almost suggesting the Jaguar could go further than ALL other EVs, although that wasn’t exactly said it was inferred in their speech.
So the car:
I won’t bore you with the looks etc, you can see it in person yourself and watch endless videos, so I will concentrate on what it feels like to drive.
It handles very well around a corner, probably superior to a Model S in a few ways (tighter turning and sharper steering) but I doubt Model 3 performance will be far behind it, the shorter wheelbase & overall smaller size of iPace compared to Model S certainly helps with the whole feel of being in full control and I guess the superior handling is exaggerated as you’re higher up in the cabin in the iPace so can see the road edges better etc. Tesla Model Y will be the closest match to the Jaguar iPace I’d imagine. Torque Vectoring by Braking probably also helps, I’m not sure if Model S does this…?
Just like Model S the car understeers pretty easily, this is expected and controllable. It will be interesting to compare Model 3 performance against the iPace.
Road noise is so so, the interior noise generator is awful, I requested it off after the instructor turned it on and proudly showed it off…
Lag with acceleration, even on ‘Dynamic’ mode AKA sport mode (which sharpens throttle response, stiffens suspension and makes steering more weighted), whilst regen braking and then swapping to accelerate the car, it doesn’t give you full power for ~.5s which is horrid, Chris and I really disliked this, once you get starting though the acceleration is good (Model S 75D style I’d estimate, after checking that assumption is about right S75D = 4.2s & iPace = 4.6s) however I think the acceleration curve is more gradual than the Tesla as the iPace continues to pick up acceleration as you go rather than the Tesla that gives you it all at once (if you slam your foot down like I often do).
For day to day driving or sub 230 miles of distance the iPace really is a great car, sure there are a few niggles and a few things that would stop me buying one but I really think Jaguar are on to a winner with this car, so I’d buy one but not this version, I’d wait for the newer version with all the issues ironed out.
So I’ve said I probably won’t be buying one yet but here is why I would still recommend one:
- It handles well and Jaguar knows that, I’d say that is probably the best reason to own it over the competitors (in the UK at least and before Model 3 arrives) and it’s certainly what they were pushing with this whole event and it worked, I was impressed
- 150kW CCS capable (once the chargers arrive and software is sent out)
- Heating system is superior to Tesla (heat pump technology, so between 10°C and 15°C outside temp the iPace heating system will use less electricity compared to Tesla’s system)
- Interior finish is decent and overall body build quality is great. Shut lines and alignment was good on all the cars I saw
- Superior seats to Tesla with more adjustment points (top spec iPace only)
- The HUD is great, gives plenty of info. A pain to adjust the height though.
- Having a few buttons to swap into and out of certain modes I actually quite like over a full touchscreen.
- A Model X which is a much bigger car and weighs more has a lower coefficient of drag than the iPace, in simple language, the iPace is like pushing a brick through the air where as a Tesla is like pushing a brick through the air where part of the brick face has been chipped away, moulded & smoothed to enhance the aerodynamics and air resistance. If you can get 200 miles out of driving the iPace in Autumn/Winter under normal ~70mph speeds I’d be surprised.
- I can buy 3 (yes three) Hyundai Kona EVs with 67kWh batteries that have similar (if not slightly better) technology inside for the price of one iPace, sure the Kona doesn’t look as sexy or go around a switchback as well but for the rest of the time it’s a equal if not better car that can go further on a single charge which is insane considering the battery is nearly 30kWh smaller!
- The lack of a decent 100kW+ charging network is still 2-3 years away in my opinion, this is probably the biggest thing that would stop this being a main car for us.
- The current rapid charger network is sub par in many locations which will frustrate many new EV owners that have taken the plunge and purchased an iPace expecting it to keep up with Tesla at the ‘pump’s, for instance I’ve seen 2hr+ charge times on a rapid charging in an iPace, meaning the car is charging at 33kW… Of course, this isn’t common across the UK but it’s an example of the frustration many will experience until a proper CCS 100+ kW network is available.
- The operating system / screen is slow, clunky and feels like it’s missing a part either side of the screen, it’s just a black void. Like anything new we struggled to find certain key settings (e.g. interior noise machine off switch)
- The acceleration lag (found at ~18mph & ~22mph) was painful to experience, presumably, this can be sorted via software update.
- 3 phase charging is coming but it’s crazy they didn’t do this from day one considering there is this place called Europe.
- I’m not certain on the method Jaguar use to active cool the battery pack, it was suggested a heat sink is used on top of the main battery pack, if true I’d imagine hot spots would form in the cell packs, I need to research this further, if anyone knows more please let me know.
- The frunk space is laughable, I honestly don’t think a Type 2 cable will fit in there, useful for an emergency kit maybe but not much more.
Final outcome / Tl;dr
I probably won’t be buying one anytime soon but I take my hat off to Jaguar for producing a decent EV with decent road feel, I think it’s a real shame they didn’t have the aerodynamics of the car as the main design priority as this will lead to lots of new owners being disappointed with poor efficiency compared with the rest of the EV market and question if an EV really is for them, however, in my eyes it’s the second or third best EV out there at the moment. Great build quality, decent range and available to buy now. If the price came down and Jaguar invested as much as Tesla have into a decent supercharger style equivalent reliable network instead of spending so much on marketing the iPace would be a big rival to Tesla. Most of Tesla’s vehicles beat it in lots of ways but we should embrace it instead of pointing and laughing. Well done Jaguar and thanks for a great morning.