Test Drive of Jaguar I-Pace HSE (Part 1/2)
BHPian robimahanta and I did a short test drive of I-Pace HSE today. Thanks to robimahanta (“Robi”) for setting up this test drive and letting me join him on this. I will share my observation here and I would request Robi to add his expert comments and photos too.
Although it was a short drive, I ended up taking a lot of pictures and could not resist sharing many of those here. That made this post a bit long, and hence I am breaking this into two parts.
Part 1: Likes & Dislikes, External looks and Driving
Part 2: Internal Design and Infotainment
Before we go on, some disclaimers: This was my first time driving a “proper” electric vehicle, and that too with so much power and torque. This is very much a high performance EV by any standards! Therefore, my views of these are those of a novice, and please take them with a pinch of salt.
Further, this TD was a short TD, done right in the middle of a crowded city area. We did not have a luxury of driving on a highway or taking the car to a scenic location for a proper photoshoot. Therefore, most of my comments are applicable to city driving. Further, all photos are taken with my basic mobile phone, and that too in ordinary city locations.
What I liked
Clean and elegant design. Nothing too flashy, and not very boring too.
Amazing torque and acceleration. 0-100km/h in 4.8s.
Overall fantastic performance. Picks up speeds crazy quick and masks high speeds very well too.
Top notch build quality, fit and finish. Everything feels premium.
Dead silent cabin. All the fun with zero noise.
Perfect ride for Indian road conditions. Very comfortable ride quality even on bad roads without being too soft.
Neutral handling, especially by SUV standards. Well controlled (although not zero) body roll.
Good ground clearance to tackle most of the bad roads.
Easy ingress and egress. Ideal height so one can “walk” straight into the car.
Great visibility all round. No blind spots anywhere.
Extremely comfortable seats, with absolutely top notch interior quality.
Great interior space in front and rear seats.
Overall, if one wants a rich, spacious, silent and comfortable cabin, this is their car.
Loaded with gadgets, screens, features and technology (lovely HUD too, and of course, a beautiful panoramic moonroof).
Very good music system.
Reasonable range for an high performance EV (should run for about 350km in real life driving conditions on one charge).
What I did not like
Brakes! Maybe it needs some getting used to. But the car picks up speeds fast and the first thing I noticed is the brake bite is poor and gave me a moment or two of anxiety before I got used to it. Poor bite and very spongy brake feel.
Lack of engine braking/regenerative braking (or may be I did not try all options well) added to the feel of poor brakes.
Torque is amazing, but has surprisingly non-linear torque delivery. The non-linear acceleration was almost nauseating for the co-driver. Again, maybe it was our first time on a high power EV, and it may need some getting used to.
Although body roll is well controlled, it is not minimal. Cornering will not be fun in this. I guess I am a sedan guy and this TD again proved that.
I have some concerns over real-world range. In our hard driving for about 20km, the range dropped way too fast.
Not very spacious boot for such a big vehicle.
External styling is a bit bland. It does not stand out from the crowd like the other Jaguar models do.
Lack of engine sounds and the lack of usual drama of an IC engine meant it is not involving to drive. Maybe again it is just the EV thing. But both Robi and I felt lack of typical driving excitement and connect with the car that we usually feel in other good cars.
As I mentioned above, all photos are taken in regular city locations. Thus, these photos actually show how the car will look in day to day city conditions, as opposed to those sexy photos taken at exotic locations and/or with artificial backgrounds.
The car looks the best from the front. Unmistakably a Jaguar from the front:
Nice and clean design. Clean side profile. But does not stand out:
Rear three quarter view has a good stance:
Lovely LED turn signals look great:
“EV 400 AWD” badge on the right had side on the rear:
And the “I-Pace” badge on the left:
The flush door handles pop out when the car is unlocked. They look great when locked and sitting flush on the doors:
This was the range topper HSE trim that we test drove:
Good looking 19″ wheels shod with “Micheline Pilot Sport 4 SUV” tyres:
Another view of the wheels. Notice the tyre size: 235/60/R19. Same size in front and rear:
The “frunk”. It has a small compartment to store charging cables. Notice the windshield washer fluid tank. The sales representative proudly said that the only liquid that needs to be filled in is the windshield washer:
The “Bonnet” (if we could call it so) has a thick plastic cladding underneath, instead of the typical insulation in ICE cars:
A lovely moonroof with Shark Fin Antenna (more on the moonroof in the next post):
Finally a parting shot. Notice the flush door handles:
Driving the I-Pace
The first thing you notice when you start the… car (I was going to say the engine, but there is no engine; it does take some time to get used to the new terminology; I kept on talking of the “engine performance” while driving this car ) is the total lack of sound. You fire the car. Nothing happens. No sound. No drama. Then you press the gear buttons for R or D, and slowly release the brake and give a bit of.. (not gas for sure; I need to be careful what I say) a current (?) and the car moves very smoothly, and totally silently. Feels magical at the beginning.
And then once you are out of the parking lot and on the open road, press the pedal and then see the real magic. It accelerates at am amazing rate. It is as if the car is always in launch control mode. The car just launched ahead. The 394 BHP and 696 Nm numbers are very impressive on paper for sure. But not just on paper. The car proves than these numbers are very real and very easy to extract with just a little bit of push on the pedal. It was fun to push the pedal and see the car launch itself. It was addictive. The car picks up speeds at a very alarming rate. And all this with very minimal sound. As I picked up speed, I could actually hear the electric motors spinning, but the sound was minimal.
Overall, the car has extremely good sound insulation. Hardly any sound from outside entered the cabin. Given this dead silent cabin, lack of engine sounds, and overall plush ride, it is impossible to tell the speeds. We picked up speeds quickly but yet they were masked so well we never felt the speed. However, the braking left us a bit confused. When you press on the brake from decent speeds, the bite is lacking, and it felt like the car took forever to stop. Brake feel is very spongy too. Given that the car masks speeds so well, brakes with extra bite was the need. But we felt the car is a bit lacking on this.
I could be wrong here but from what I understood (and also confirmed by the sales rep) that this model lacks regenerative braking. I felt that a bit odd, and maybe that could also be part of the reason why braking felt a bit inadequate. Maybe some experts can comment on this.
Coming to the suspensions and ride quality, again Jaguar has done a great job. The car has perfect ride quality for Indian roads. We drove over some bad patches, and some huge speed breakers. The car ironed out everything quite well. The ride quality was very comfy, but yet not very soft. It was not so soft that it will cause undulations and other unwanted movements. The damping was spot on! When we drove over a flyover with those typical rough joints, we were amazed by how well the car ironed out those and how smoothly it drove over the flyover.
The handling is overall neutral. The car is an SUV after all, and thus we can not expect a sedan-like handling and cornering abilities. I did not get a chance to take any high speed corners to be able to comment on that anyways. But whatever turns we took, the car handled well. But I would not call the handling as “great” – certainly not like other Jaguars. Maybe I am a sedan person and I should not compare this car to a sedan. But keeping aside some nitpicking, the car handles well.
The car has two electric motors driving the two axles, and thus it is an All Wheel Drive (AWD), The grip levels were great and the car felt well balanced. However, it was too short a TD to really check the benefits of AWD.
In summary, I would give 10/10 on power and performance, 9/10 on ride quality and 7/10 on handling. Again, it was too short a TD to really give a proper rating, and therefore, I would request you to take these numbers with a pinch of salt.
Oh yes, and maybe 15/10 on the creature comforts, the luxurious feel, and comfort levels in the cabin. More on that in the next post.