Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE: long-term test review
The Jaguar I-Pace is not simply a fantastic electric car, it’s a fantastic car full stop. While it may not suit our man’s lifestyle quite as well as some, with a bit of planning he still enjoys the benefits of life with an EV.
Those with a keen eye will spot that the Auto Express Jaguar I-Pace has changed hands. Long-term custodian and editor-in-chief Steve Fowler reluctantly passed me the keys to see if the all-electric SUV would be as easy and satisfying to live with for me as it was for him.
The thing is, unlike Steve, I live in London without access to off-street parking. That means I’ve no ability to charge overnight at home – something that has become second nature for Steve. Could I make it work? Well, there was only one way to find out.
Not only would I be running the car to and from the airport or the office on a daily basis, I’d also be challenging the I-Pace’s flexibility with a weekend trip to deepest Devon. This is no mean feat at the best of times – let alone in the midst of Storm Dennis, which battered Britain with gale-force wind and heavy rain back in February.
Living and working in town, I’m just the type of person who should be making the switch to an electric car. Doing so could save me thousands on fuel and Congestion Charge costs, and it should go some way to relieving my conscience – knowing that I’m reducing the harmful emissions being pumped into the air around our capital.
But without a home charge point, I knew I’d be relying heavily on the public network to keep the I-Pace topped up. With no chance for a five-minute fill at a petrol station (as I’d do with a regular car), I’d either have to be incredibly organised or cleverly creative.
Luckily, Source London’s expanding network of 1,000-plus charge points is making it easier than ever for city dwellers to run an EV. With three points just around the corner from my house and another few due to be installed soon, this looked like a suitable option for charging overnight – especially as the costs are capped to prevent owners unwittingly racking up big bills.
What’s more, by signing up for an account (£4 per month) the cost of charging is nearly halved – from seven pence to 3.6p per minute on a 7kW charger. That means if I plug the Jag in overnight, I can charge it to full for less than £9 – more than you’d pay for domestic electricity, but cheaper than petrol.
Still, the Jag’s biggest test was yet to come. People often ask me: “What if you want to do a longer journey in an electric car?” – and I’ve never really had a good answer. I did once take a Hyundai Kona Electric on an EV marathon, but the restrictive conditions of that test were hardly representative of my slog to Devon on a wet winter evening.
We started in a good place. Knowing that a full charge was unlikely to get us all the way there, I’d already planned a stop at Amesbury part of the way down the A303 – meaning our 160 miles of indicated range wouldn’t be an issue. I’d picked this point with the help of some colleagues; they reliably informed me that this specific Polar point accepted contactless bank cards, so I wouldn’t need to sign up and wait for an account to be activated.
With Storm Dennis doing its best to slow our progress, we made it to our stopover without any issue, and here we found the connection set-up as easy as buying a coffee. With the I-Pace charging at just over 50kW (the Jag’s maximum, on the correct charger, is 100kW), we managed to quickly replenish the battery to around 80 per cent, which was enough to get us to our destination.
Once we’d arrived, our only option was to trickle charge via the Jag’s three-pin plug. It’s not ideal, but if your regular usage only demands 30-40 miles range a day, you could happily keep your car topped up through a conventional household socket. However, with a return journey scheduled within 48 hours, I knew we’d have to stop at another fast charger on the way home.
Feeling buoyed up by a mere 40-minute stopover on the way down, I suggested a trip into Plymouth on Saturday afternoon. I’d scoped out a GeniePoint fast charger in one of the city’s underground car parks, and was confident that, should anything go awry, we had enough range to return home. Alas, it was not meant to be; after we failed to hook up to the 50kW charger, the customer service representative was only able to remotely connect us to the slower 7kW point. But, if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that a slow charge is better than no charge.
The return journey to London was as uneventful as that on the way down. The range readout was dropping faster than usual – most likely due to the lashing rain and cooler temperatures – so we pulled in to the Instavolt charger at the Route 303 Diner near Honiton. Around 50 minutes (plus a couple of conversations with some passers-by) later, we were on our way with enough juice to see us home.
Another thing that this trip and the following six weeks have taught me is that contactless charging is essential for future EV infrastructure. It works as it would at a petrol station when paying for fuel; services like Polar Instant make spontaneous charging infinitely less stressful.
Having an account for my local charging station – where I can enjoy cheaper rates by plugging my car in overnight – makes perfect sense. A lack of convenience may be the only barrier to EV ownership for many.
Our electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV has benefitted from a wireless nip and tuck
Who doesn’t like a makeover? A cut-price way to a new you can really put a spring in your step. And it’s something we’re going to be able to enjoy a lot more with our cars: quick makeovers that make us feel like new.
My I-Pace has had an upgrade. So not only will it now go further on each charge, the infotainment is also a whole lot more reliable, and the car will now receive further upgrades via the magic of the Internet.
SOTA (or OTA) – standing for Software Over The Air – refers to the ability to upgrade without visiting a dealer. Sometimes you won’t even notice, but as with your phone, other times there are real benefits.
Most noticeable for me was an increase in range of around 10 per cent. Where I used to see a maximum range in cold weather of around 200 miles, this is now up to 220 miles. Still some way short of the claimed range of 258 miles, but in warmer weather I’ve got much closer to that – around 240 miles, which is still pretty impressive.
With the change in mindset that EV owners soon adopt, that’s plenty. Planning ahead is key, and the only time I’ve got caught out is when I had to rely on the UK’s charging infrastructure – especially on the motorway. But with most of my charging done at home or in our office car park, managing my mileage by knowing where I’m going and when, and where I need to charge has meant pain-free electric running.
As has Jaguar ownership. I’ll admit to seeing plenty of heads shaking when I’ve told people I’m running a Jaguar; old reliability reputations die hard, it seems.
But my car has been absolutely faultless from a mechanical point of view, and the few infotainment foibles I’ve had have been fixed by SOTA updates. Brilliant.
That’s part of the story I’ve enjoyed telling people about the car, and boy, do they ask – there’s huge interest in the Jag and EVs. All in all, the I-Pace has been a joy to run.
It’s cheap, too. As a very rough estimate, a full charge at home costs me about £12; try doing 220 miles on £12-worth of fuel in a petrol or diesel car of the same size with the same level of performance.
And that performance is the thing I’ve enjoyed most. The instant hit of torque the moment you press the throttle is more enjoyable than a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds suggests. You get it at pretty much any speed and it never fails to bring out a childish giggle in me.
It’s not just about straight-line fun, either. Last year I was invited to judge our sister title Auto Bild’s awards, which meant driving the I-Pace on a circuit – not the best place to showcase an electric car’s talents, or so I thought. But no, the I-Pace was sensational; it was quick to react, stuck to its lines well and was quick – just great fun and exactly how a modern Jaguar should feel.
No surprise, then, that the I-Pace went on to be the winner in its category, and I was asked to go to Germany to present the trophy to outgoing JLR CEO Sir Ralf Speth.
That was the third big trophy I’ve handed over for the I-Pace, following the Auto Express Car of the Year Award in 2018 and World Car of the Year last year, too. You could say I rate it quite highly! As do the many I-Pace owners I’ve spoken to.
As I write this, though, there’s a tinge of sadness as my time with the I-Pace is up. I’ve done a lot of miles in it, my family have spent many hours in it (and they have been as impressed with the comfort and space as I have) and I’ve enjoyed every minute.
There are so many highlights: the way it drives, the incredible ride comfort, the impressive Meridian audio system, the level-two autonomous tech on board and the fact that its running costs are super-low.
There’s another final challenge for the I-Pace, though, in the hands of Richard Ingram, editor of our sister title Driving Electric. Unlike me, Richard doesn’t have off-street parking so he’s without a charging point. Will that take the shine off what is undoubtedly one of the best cars launched in the past couple of years? Watch this space…
Our electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV is still proving to be a sound choice
Life with the I-Pace is good, and I’m clearly not the only one to think so – it creates something of a fanfare wherever it goes.
We were first to celebrate it when we named it Auto Express Car of the Year in 2018. Then I was a member of the jury voting it World Car of the Year for 2019. And most recently I was invited by our sister title Auto Bild to take part in the judging of its Golden Steering Wheel Awards. Yup, you guessed it, it was a winner again, taking the Best Mid-size SUV Award.
My I-Pace has just had Software Update 19B, which has fixed some of the foibles with the infotainment; Apple CarPlay now works seamlessly with it – so well that I’ve only used Jaguar’s on-board nav system a couple of times.
There are still a couple of niggles, though. Sometimes the radio just shows ‘No Reception’ and remains stoically silent, even though I’m in an area where it normally works. The old fix of turning the car off and back on usually sorts it, but that needs a stop, which is inconvenient.
One thing I find amusing is the strange, gentle tune the car emits at random times. It sounds like the noise a child’s toy trumpet makes – as if the car is sighing tunefully. It’s not annoying, but I really can’t pin down why the car is doing it, or where it’s coming from.
With winter in full swing, it’s going to be interesting to see how life with the I-Pace changes. So far, efficiency doesn’t seem to have dipped much due to the cold weather, although the rear mirror and screen demisters could work quicker.
It’ll be interesting to see how really low temperatures over the coming months affect running this EV, though.
The multi-award-winning I-Pace has got off to a good start. It’s further proof that electric cars are great fun to drive, and is proving easy to live with so far – let’s hope the EV shine doesn’t wear off any time soon.
There's nothing quite like a British village show where the locals bring out the largest of marrows, the straightest of runner beans, their finest photography and perfect poetry – all to be judged by other locals who are supposed to know what’s good and what’s not so good.
The Chalfont St Giles village show is the quintessential summer event and is local to me. So when the organisers announced that the theme was ‘Transport Through The Ages’, I thought it was a great opportunity to bring things bang up-to-date and offered to take my all-electric Jaguar I-Pace along.
So there I was on a suitably sunny Saturday in September, lined up for the parade through the village, sandwiched between a smoky vintage car in front of me and a noisy tractor behind – my silent and emission-free Jaguar stood out a bit.
It seemed that the ‘through the ages’ bit had skipped about 50 years, but judging by the cameras pointing at my gleaming white I-Pace, it was one of the stars of the show.
It was the same when we parked up on Stone Meadow, having circled the display arena first and stopped to put out a small fire caused by the steam engine leading the procession. Then the crowds came – and there was so much interest in the I-Pace, I struggled to get away for a look at the award-winning tomatoes for myself.
So how did people react to the newest of Jaguars? Firstly, I was surprised that so many people knew what it was and that it was electric. And they were universalin their praise of the car’s design – I think it’s looking better and better.
Then came the questions, mostly following the lines of ‘how far will it go between charges’, ‘how much does it cost to charge’, ‘where do you charge’, ‘what does it cost’ and ‘what’s it like to drive?’.
I had my answers off pat: more than 200 miles; depends where you charge it and how much you pay for your electricity, but as little as around £12 at home; mostly at home, occasionally in the office car park; it starts at £60,995 including the Government’s £3,500 plug-in grant, and it’s brilliant to drive.
By the end of the day, I’d probably had around 100 people looking around the car, including two who said they were going to buy one after seeing it, and another pair who had their orders in but wanted to talk specifications before they committed.
Was it all positive? I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few people who were anti-EVs but, genuinely, the vast majority of those I spoke to were curious and keen to learn more about electric driving.
When my I-Pace isn’t sitting in a local field having its picture taken, I’m enjoying every second behind the wheel. Sure, the Jag has been usurped as our Car of the Year by the Tesla Model 3 – a cheaper EV with a longer range and even more straight-line performance – but that’s not to say my car doesn’t have its place in the world.
Most of that is due to the way it rides and handles. There are few models that ride so well; the miraculous adaptive suspension system dismisses the Jag’s weight, while the 22-inch wheels glide over bumps. And there are few cars that can cling to the road through corners and slingshot you out of the other side so well; it’s just great fun.
The performance front seats (£1,400) are very comfortable, and I’ve had fewer complaints about space in the back for three than in many other cars. Anyone in the rear sits in awe of the panoramic roof (£960), although I don’t get the benefit in the front.
There are two minor concerns: as the weather’s cooled I’ve found the rear demister takes an age to work, and the infotainment has frozen momentarily a couple of times. Neither is enough to get a dealer involved, but both are worth keeping an eye on.
Will daily life change our view of the Jaguar I-Pace?
The latest arrival on our fleet has a lot to live up to. A year ago, the Jaguar I-Pace was the first pure-electric car to be crowned Auto Express Car of the Year. Then in April this year, I was one of the jurors who voted it World Car of the Year.
So it’s fair to say I’m already a fan of the I-Pace, but living together day-in day-out can change any relationship – so let’s see what happens over the coming months.
With the first few hundred miles under its stylish 22-inch alloys, things – like the car – are looking good. I collected my I-Pace from the swankiest Jaguar dealership I’ve ever been in: Lookers, Park Royal in London.
I drive past the site twice a day on my daily commute, but I had never been in, and it’s seriously impressive. It’s modern, minimalist, clean and a world away from the big wooden desks and Chesterfield sofas of Jaguar dealers of old.
As are the sales staff. Ryno Nortier is a certified Genius, recognised by Jaguar as being an I-Pace expert. So he was the perfect person to talk me through the many features of my new car, especially the important stuff like connecting my phone to the car (Apple CarPlay in a Jaguar at last!), going through the maze of menus to adjust the various settings, and starting me off with the Jaguar Remote app that allows me to keep tabs on charging, every journey I take, and even warm up or cool down the car remotely.
Jaguar has learnt a thing or two from its rivals when it comes to speccing a car, too. Although my top-spec HSE comes nicely equipped, it has a fair few enhancements, ranging from the rather comfy sports seats, to a long glass roof, head-up display and a black exterior pack with privacy glass to up the cool factor, and keep things cool inside.
The end result is a list price of £71,495 after the plug-in car grant, rising to £82,200 all-in. A big chunk of that comes from the beautiful 22-inch wheels, which I worried would boost the look, but ruin the ride.
Yet with the addition of air suspension, Adaptive Dynamics and Adaptive Surface Response, my well over two-tonne car (plus driver) on big wheels that should – at least in theory – ride dreadfully actually soaks up the bumps brilliantly and handles just as well – a marvel of engineering, but at a cost.
So dynamically, the I-Pace stacks up, but of most importance is how far it can go on a full charge. Jaguar claims 258 miles (WLTP), but with limited running so far, 200 seems closer to the mark. We’ll see what we can eke out of it in the coming months.
One thing I’ve noticed is that every time I turn the car off it goes back to Comfort mode rather than my preferred Eco setting. Maybe that can be fixed by an over-the-air update, which is coming soon to Jaguars.
I’ve also struggled with the boot release. You’re supposed to be able to wave your foot under the rear bumper and the tailgate will open. It worked for Ryno, but not for me. Maybe it’s my small feet or dodgy footwear!
I do like the pop-out handles, though. My car has keyless entry and start, so I just touch a button on the handles and they jump out to attention to let me open the door.
So far, I’ve only charged the I-Pace using my home wall charger, which gives me around 100 miles of charge overnight, so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on with the national charging network.
I already know that if I want to charge in the public car park we use for work I’ll need to get up early – the charging points fill up quickly, often with plug-in hybrids that stay there all day but clearly don’t need to. I feel a campaign on EV etiquette coming on…
Other than that, the I-Pace is living up to its award-winning, five-star billing. It’s already proving to be a conversation-starter, and I don’t miss trips to the filling station.
Build quality is good, there’s plenty of space on board, I’m really enjoying driving the car, it’s comfortable and packed with tech. Also, it looks absolutely fantastic. Our long-term relationship is off to a great start.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
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