Jaguar I-Pace Preview

It’s been less than 10 years since Jaguar stopped building the self-consciously retrostyled S-type sedan. You remember, the car with a grille exactly the shape of a wallmounted urinal?

But have a look at the I-Pace, which the company will begin selling in a little more than a year’s time, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been 50 years since the S-type. Or rather, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the two couldn’t possibly have come from the same carmaker.

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Mind you, there’s nothing too radical about Jaguar producing a crossover. The company already sells one of those, the attractive F-Pace. And under the guidance of chief designer Ian Callum, the company has long since thrown off the shackles of retro styling. What’s radical about the I-Pace is that it’s a pure-electric vehicle based on a new platform. Furthermore, it’s one of the first electrics to take full advantage of an electric car’s packaging to rethink vehicle proportions. For example, the Tesla Model S and Model X are all electric, but their hoods are conventionally long— as if they had to accommodate an internal-combustion engine.

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Not so on the I-Pace. The hood of this quasi-SUV is short and sloped, and the base of its aggressively raked windshield meets the body over the front wheels. This from the company that once produced the E-type, which was essentially all hood. The short nose and the clipped rear overhang mean that even though the I-Pace is about two inches shorter overall than an F-Pace, it rides on a wheelbase 4.6 inches longer. The I-Pace concept’s roof is almost four inches closer to the ground than the F-Pace’s, too.

The vehicle pictured here is the I-Pace concept that Jaguar unveiled at last year’s Los Angeles auto show. And like other recent Jaguar concepts, the production I-Pace will look almost identical to the concept—simply replace the 23-inch wheels with more conventionally sized units and drop the glowing blue lighting.

Like its competitor from Tesla, the I-Pace concept carries its 90-kWh battery pack in the floor. There’s every reason to expect that the production version will have the same capacity. This liquid-cooled energy store, mounted in an aluminum housing that forms part of the vehicle’s structure, delivers power to two Jag designed electric motors, one for each axle. In the concept, those motors each produce 200 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

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The company reckons that that’ll be enough power to get the aluminum-intensive I-Pace to 60 mph in about four seconds. Jaguar estimates that the I-Pace should be able to travel more than 220 miles on a charge.

Expect sales of the five-seater to commence in the middle of 2018, with a target starting price under $100,000. The I-Pace will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria.

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Further down the road, we expect Jaguar will use this platform, with its unequal-length-control-arm front and multilink rear suspensions, for a sedan. After all, the company has promised that by 2025, half the vehicles it produces will have an electrified version of one sort or another. The S-type will not be among them.

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