To the world’s surprise, the first all-electric luxury utility vehicle to follow the Tesla Model X into production did not come from the German makes of Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz.
Instead, it arrived from that trio’s smaller, scrappier British rival, Jaguar Land Rover. The 2019 Jaguar I-Pace will arrive in dealerships for demonstration drives next month, with U.S. customer deliveries expected to start in November.
By contrast, first deliveries of the 2019 Audi e-tron will come between April and June next year, and the BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQC won’t follow until sometime in 2020.
DON'T MISS: Jaguar launches roadshow for 2019 I-Pace
We recently spent three days with a 2019 Jaguar I-Pace HSE, in and around New York City, and we conclude that it offers an attractive alternative to all of the vehicles cited above.
Compared to the Model X, the I-Pace is smaller inside and out, slightly less expensive (it starts at $69,500), and suffers from the lack of high-speed “fast charging” offered by Tesla’s Supercharger network.
The Jaguar I-Pace succeeds admirably in several areas but falls short in a few. Regardless of the pros and cons, however, we think Jaguar will likely sell every one it decides it will send to the U.S.—at least until it’s got more competitors than simply Tesla.
PRO: Style and design
Perhaps nowhere is the I-Pace as clearly superior to its competitors as in exterior design. Its long-cabin, short-nose design evokes nothing so much as the Tesla Model 3, which has similar proportions, albeit with a sedan back end. The I-Pace is really more of a long hatchback than a utility vehicle, but whatever you call it, the overall effect is coherent and fresh.
While the I-Pace remains indisputably a Jaguar, the shape signals it’s clearly a different species of cat than its F-Pace and E-Pace siblings. It works on the street, too. People walked up to ask questions, flashed thumbs-up on the highway, and otherwise signaled their approval of Jaguar design head Ian Callum’s stylistic risk.
The Model X has demonstrably more interior space, flexibility, and functionality. But it’s never had the sleek grace of its Model S sibling, demonstrating in sheet metal how hard it is to make a utility vehicle both aerodynamic and functional.
The Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC, on the other hand, have the proportions of entirely conventional SUVs. Show them to shoppers and we’d bet most won't know they’re powered by electricity. That may be deliberate, but it leaves the Jaguar I-Pace as the most adventurous and best looking of the class to our eyes.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Edition
Inside, the I-Pace is far more conventionally Jaguar. At a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish its interior from that of various other Jaguar Land Rover products, from the higher-volume F-Pace to the more fashion-forward Range Rover Velar. The rear seats are reclined to fit under the falling roofline, but leg room is sufficient for U.S.-sized adults.
One grace note on the I-Pace is door handles that present themselves as the driver gets closer to the car, echoing Tesla. The effect is cheapened, however, by the fact that they’re matte-black plastic except for the body-color panel on the outside—a visual letdown.
PRO: Acceleration and regeneration
Jaguar quotes a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds from its pair of 147-kilowatt (197-horsepower) motors, one per axle. While we didn’t test it with a stopwatch, we enjoyed using it.
A toggle setting within the drive controls menu lets the driver set the default regeneration level to high (up to 0.4G), which proved strong enough to make one-pedal driving possible. Another setting lets the driver opt for conventional idle creep, or no movement at rest (we chose the idle creep).