- Available for under £30,000
- Twin electric motor, all-wheel drive, 400hp
- Great styling, comfort and performance
- Handling better than you’d think for the weight
- No shortage of niggles and reliability issues…
- …which has made used examples very affordable
Jaguar has long enjoyed a strong reputation for innovation and value in the performance/luxury market. The release of the all-electric I-Pace in 2018 fulfilled the innovation side of the equation by making Jaguar the first credible premium brand to go on sale with a ‘skateboard’ chassis zero-emissions car – but as things turned out, it would also test to breaking point the marque’s hard-won reputation in other areas.
When it was previewed on London streets in 2017 the I-Pace EV400 looked special. Two lightweight electric motors, one on each axle, gave you the benefits of all-wheel drive, and the 400hp and 516lb ft on tap from the 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack meant it was never short of urge – 0-62mph in 4.5sec and a top speed of 124mph. The predicted range pre-launch was just over 310 miles, which was Tesla Model X country, but in the end the Jag’s official WLTP range was quoted as 292 miles.
The Ian Callum-designed cab-forward body had a slippery look to it, useful both in terms of aero efficiency and in differentiating it from the longer, wider F-Pace. No engine under the bonnet and no transmission tunnel in the cabin allowed for a coupé-like profile without sacrificing interior space. The coolly sophisticated interior design centred around a rising centre console and a big 12-inch touchscreen with a 5.5-inch one below it.
As with anything wearing a Jaguar badge, the I-Pace had to have not only performance and luxury but also an ability to pack away serious mileage without exhausting its passengers. The company had historically achieved that in its IC vehicles by combining performance and luxury with well-sorted suspension and a good-sized fuel tank. Although the I-Pace showed that first two boxes were easy enough to tick, the other two were going to be more problematic. A bigger battery pack was the only route to a bigger range, but that added weight, the suspension engineer’s worst enemy. It was permanent weight, too. Fuel tanks weighed less as you went along but batteries weighed the same whether there were three or three hundred miles left in them.
So the I-Pace ended up weighing 2.2 tonnes, which sounded like a lot in 2018. It’s much more normal now though. BMW i4 M50 weighs the same – and realistically that’s a four-seat hatch, not a five-seat SUV. Anyway, it seemed luxury SUV buyers were less interested in weight than they were in electrification, having noted the additional refinement benefits that it brought, not to mention the low business taxes.
With the I-Pace Jaguar surmised that they could make some hay against the market-leading but less obviously premium Model X. The early signs were that they were right. I-Pace prices started at £63,495 in the UK, and the press liked it. In 2019 it received awards for World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year and World Green Car. It came in three spec levels, all of which were generously equipped with stuff like traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep assist, tiredness warning, autonomous emergency braking and a rear cross-traffic monitor. There was no difference in the claimed performance for each model either so there was no real need to lay out extra cash for higher-up models.
The basic S had dual-zone climate control, ambient cabin lighting and keyless entry. The SE had 20-inch wheels and threw in adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring and high-speed emergency braking, while HSE added its own bespoke wheels, heated rear seats and matrix LED headlights. There was also a ‘Black’ version which was essentially the SE with a fixed pano roof (a £960 option separately), privacy glass, black exterior trim pieces and the HSE’s 5068 wheels in gloss black.
2021 was a big year for Jaguar, but not for the right reason. Like the rest of the auto industry Jaguar suffered a big drop in sales in that year. The 16 percent downturn in their overall position relative to 2020 was attributed to a shortage of semiconductors or ‘chips’. More worryingly, I-Pace sales were down 27 percent year on year, hit not only by that chip shortage but also by the big Euro players’ ramping-up of their assault on the luxury electric SUV market. In the circumstances Jaguar had an understandable lack of interest in bringing much that was new to the table in that year’s model refresh. The changes they did make were limited to tweaks to the charging speeds and a few aesthetics. Stuff like range and performance were left alone. The American market was obviously key for the I-Pace. It went on sale there at the end of 2018 for the 2019 model year but by the time the 2022MY cars came along the US range was down to just the HSE.
As we were going to press the 2023 I-Pace was being revealed at prices starting from £69,995, an uplift of over £3,600 on the 2022 price. A new range-topping 400 Sport spec including adaptive air suspension, bootlid spoiler, 22in black alloy wheels and sports seats is priced at £79,995. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay anywhere near these prices to enjoy the I-Pace experience. We’ve seen higher-mileage bottom-spec cars for under £30k, and because there’s plenty of choice on offer with more than 700 cars typically on sale in the UK at any given moment, mid-mileage (45-55,000) SEs can easily be found for under £35k.
SPECIFICATION | JAGUAR I-PACE (2018-on)
Engine: 90kWh battery, twin electric motors
Transmission: single-speed, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400
Torque (lb ft): 516
0-62mph (secs): 4.5
Top speed (mph): 124
Weight (kg): 2,230
Range (WLTP cycle): 292
CO2 (g/km): 0
Wheels (in): 19 (20 on SE and above, up to 22 available)
On sale: 2018 - now
Price new: £63,495
Price now: under £30,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
The I-Pace’s main 90kWh battery was made up of 423 lithium-ion cells and had a certified WLTP range of up to 292 miles. Realistically you could count on 220 miles, exposing a bit of an overclaim by Jaguar, but that was still enough for most drivers on most days. The battery pack was warranted not to drop below a 70 per cent state of health over 8 years or 100,000 miles, but Jaguar’s public line was that it was designed to exceed the life of the car. With a normal 7kW home wallbox a full charge could be achieved in 12.7 hours, but you could get up to 78 miles of range in 15 minutes and 80 per cent in 40 minutes from a 100kW fast charger. At lower speeds, just one of the two motors would be operating.
EVs are mechanically simple because there are fewer oily bits to worry about, but an uncomfortable fact of life is that electrical faults have been responsible for most car breakdowns for some time now. Pre-2021 model year I-Paces had two 12v batteries which lived in the front boot. Quite a few owners had problems with these. One of the most common causes for 12v battery failure was missing software updates. These are important on any modern car, but especially so on EVs, so you need to put in some homework on ensuring that all the available refreshes have been carried out on any I-Pace you’re considering.
Failure of the bigger ‘starter’ battery would impact on the car’s ability to unlock its doors or bonnet and would create lots of scary warning messages and/or total shutdown. Failure of the smaller auxiliary battery (which was deleted on post-’21 cars) would generate faults relating to the brake booster, the electronics for the front motor, and the parking lock device, preventing the car from coming out of Park. Jaguar did include manual releases for the front bonnet and the parking lock, but the processes were not what you might call user-friendly.
Gearbox fault warnings flashed up when there was a problem with the wiring going to the park lock actuator connector. This could lead to a ratcheting noise at low speed followed by an abrupt stop. Some owners were told that their cars had broken park lock actuators and were in some cases quoted 25-30 hours labour to fit the replacement.
Forcibly removing the charging cable from the car without first unlocking it would break the clip in the socket and prevent further charging. Other potential suspects leading to a failure to charge could include a faulty BEM (battery energy module) or BECM (battery energy control module), neither of them cheap to fix. I-Pace services were due every 2 years or 21,000 miles. £1,000 should cover your total costs for the first three years. Central London drivers don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge until 2025.
One of the design briefs for Jaguar set the I-Pace development engineers was to make it feel like a Jaguar. Despite the weight, the chassis they came up with made a very good fist of this, delivering good body control with either the standard steel-sprung double-wishbone front/multilink rear suspension, or the optional adaptive air system which could raise the ride height for better ground clearance at lower speeds or drop it down for better aero efficiency above 65mph. Adaptive dampers were also available.
The ‘wheel at each corner’ design, skateboard location of the 600kg battery and claimed 50/50 front/rear weight distribution all contributed to the I-Pace’s surprisingly adept handling. It was a wide, stubby sort of thing with a wheelbase longer than the XF’s in a body that was shorter than the XE’s. The electromechanical steering was meaty and nicely judged, but the electronic intervention systems put a rude damper on anything they deemed to be over-enthusiastic or challenging the laws of nature.
Braking feel wasn’t that great but that was a common problem in EVs that were constantly trying to get right the retardation balance between regen and normal. A gently-driven used I-Pace might well have more hardware issues than a conventionally engined vehicle – or even a more enthusiastically-driven I-Pace – because movable parts like brake calipers can seize up through under-use. Some I-Paces had noisy brakes at low speed.
Stability control system issues have been known to pop up, manifested by a pulsing sensation from the front wheels and a ‘turtle’ warning on the dash telling you to take it easy. This could be an intermittent problem that cleared itself, but in some cases anti-lock ECUs have had to be replaced. I-Paces were sensitive to tyre balance. This could show up as a momentary vibration through the steering wheel after hitting a bump in the road.
The concept of wading through 20 inches of water, levels that would normally be restricted to serious off roaders, might seem like anathema to those who think that liquid and electricity don’t go too well together, but the I-Pace really could do that. Having said that, read on…
The I-Pace’s body panels were made of aluminium, a choice that is more or less forced onto EV manufacturers trying to claw back some of the weight piled on by batteries. Aluminium isn’t especially good at suppressing road noise and nor are big wheels, so don’t be expecting an I-Pace to provide Bentley standards of refinement on the move.
Some owners of early cars had problems with sticking charge port doors when the grease in the plunger dried out (this could be a problem for the door handles too). The mechanic’s door-opening solution usually involved nothing more scientific than a flathead screwdriver. We believe that the locking mech was improved on later cars. Sensors could fail on these port doors too, resulting in a bogus ‘door open’ warning which in the worst-case scenarios would prevent the car from going to sleep, or cause 12v battery drain.
There have also been problems with the mud deflector flaps that sit ahead of the rear wheels. The tabs holding these in place can be dislodged by water or even by wind, causing the flaps to rotate back, fouling the tyre, or even to fly off completely. Jaguar initially denied that this was a design fault. Some JLR techs offered to tap in an extra screw for owners and it appears that this did the trick. A bulletin was put out in mid-2020 detailing a change in the method of attachment.
An odd humming at speeds over 65mph was traced in some cases to poorly aligned and as a result flapping grille-top ducts. Poor rear window sealing could cause untoward noises too. Luggage space amounted to 557 litres, with 28 more in the hole up front that would normally be occupied by the engine.
The I-Pace scored high points for its cabin, not just for its design but also for its construction and (by and large) its materials selection. The Mercedes EQC had more physical presence, but the Jag had more interior space, though not as much as the Audi e-tron. Its driving position was low and sporty for the type of vehicle and there was no shortage of comfort or support from all the seats.
The first InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment could be slow and buggy with disappearing profiles. The 2021-on Pivi Pro infotainment setup looked great but not everybody preferred the new interface and some owners had trouble linking up to Spotify or CarPlay before they understood the somewhat convoluted process of connecting, adding new sources etc. Retention of station favourites didn’t always happen after charging. You need to know what the system is capable of so that you can make sure it’s all working on any car you’re thinking of buying.
All models came with Meridian sound, with an 825w upgrade on offer for an extra £600. Unwelcome high-frequency noises when the fan was turned on were reported by some owners. There were clever touches like selective air vents that only came on if there was somebody sitting there but air con systems could stop blowing cold air after the first 10-20 minutes of any drive. This was sometimes down to a too-cold evaporator caused by insufficient coolant in the system, or a too-long bolt used to clamp a pipe to the condenser.
A refusal to start accompanied by a warning that ‘SmartKey is deactivated’ was not unknown. This would normally be resolved by using the backup SmartKey. Dampness in the footwells has been reported, traceable to either a poor windscreen seal (sometimes happening after a car wash) or blocked HVAC drain tubes.
Considering that its gestation period was only four years, the I-Pace was a remarkable achievement by Jaguar. They jumped the gun on the big German players and the result of their efforts made a lot of owners very happy. Styling, comfort, ride, and performance were all excellent. The battery range made it a perfectly practical proposition, and even today the 200+ miles it offers on a charge will be acceptable to most, but the opposition has since caught up to the Jaguar. Now the I-Pace must be judged against much better rivals. and that’s where some of its glitter crumbles away a little.
In not much more than a year, the entry-level price of a used I-Pace has fallen from £45,000 to under £30k. That drop must be at least partly reflective of the model’s less-than-perfect reliability history thus far. There have been reports of long delays for repairs and a significant wait for parts.
Of course, none of Jaguar’s rivals is perfect either, and depreciation is always a good thing if you’re a buyer, but I-Pace ownership could be a frustrating experience and selling one with known issues could be a difficult moral exercise for honest owners. I-Paces came with Jaguar’s standard 3-year warranty from new. The Jaguar Extended Warranty that was available for cars still within that initial 3-year period would certainly be worth looking at.
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