Despite the fact that electric vehicles only account for a tiny percentage of worldwide sales, manufacturers are making major commitments towards their future and spending billions in the process.

Not too long ago, it would have been hard to imagine Jaguar producing any kind of SUV, but it now markets several, the latest of which is the I-Pace battery electric crossover. Like many rivals, Jaguar is planning on an all-electric future so the I-Pace is just the start.

Jaguar could easily have based the I-Pace on the company’s compact E-Pace model, but it opted for larger and roomier bodywork, possibly to position it as a competitor for Tesla’s popular Model X crossover, which is a fair amount more expensive than the Jag. The I-Pace sets new standards in the field of luxury SUVs and is as good-looking and capable as any rival out there. It has been described as a 5-seater sports car, probably with some justification. The vehicle was designed and engineered in the UK and is being built at a factory in Austria.

It’s easy to recognise the aluminium-bodied I-Pace as a Jaguar with its black honeycomb grille and Jaguar-head badge at its centre. The vehicle has a passing resemblance to its F-Pace and E-Pace siblings at Jaguar but it has a sportier, more hunkered-down look about it. It’s a sleek, performance-oriented product and it confirms this with zero to 100 km/h times in the 4.5-second range. It may not be the kind of product Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons had in mind when he penned the ‘Grace, Space and Pace’ slogan, but it delivers on all counts.

Like other electric vehicles, the I-Pace has a fascinating technological spec sheet. Twin concentric electric motors offer a combined 394-horsepower, an impressive figure, especially when considering the excellent torque such power sources generate. A 90 kWh battery provides a very worthwhile range of 394 kilometres, which should ease owners’ range anxiety problems. Using a quick-charge supply, 80 per cent of charge can be achieved in around 40-minutes. Home charging is an overnight job. Battery technology continues to improve as more EVs are sold and 500 km should be in reach very soon by vehicles of comparable size and design.

In the cabin, the I-Pace offers all the luxury touches buyers of the make desire. Naturally, the interior features numerous infotainment and communications systems, all of which add up to a vehicle that’s very easy to live day-to-day with. Firsts for Jaguar include dual touch screens on the dash, one of which is a 10-inch unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available as standard and also included is Software-Over-the-Air (SOTA) that allows owners to wirelessly update vehicle systems. Jaguar is offering various trim levels initially, though all have the same powertrain.

This EV is certainly the most intriguing Jaguar to arrive for some time. With the I-Pace’s impressive performance, lengthy range, good looks and luxury features, Jaguar believes it has created the most desirable EV on the market. The luxury performance EV segment promises to heat up quickly with rivals from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and even Cadillac all under development. Right now, the Tesla Model X dominates the market for EVs in this performance and price range, but the I-Pace should take quite a bite out of that over the next year or two.

ENGINE: Twin electric motors, 394-horsepower.

TRANSMISSION: Single speed, all-wheel drive.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 4.5-secs, approx.

TOP SPEED: 200 km/h, electronically limited.

I LIKED: Great looking SUV/crossover with very sporty lines plus impressive interior ambiance. Acceleration is very responsive and matches many pure sports cars. Nicely built with lots of Jaguar influences. Reasonable price for its performance and equipment level.

I DIDN’T LIKE: Charging stations can be hard to find, but this situation is improving. Good range, but still fairly limited for a cross-country trip.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Tesla Model X plus several upcoming rivals being developed by Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz and others.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Luxury buyers who want to make a statement about their willingness to ‘go green.’ Buyers who use petrol-fuelled luxury SUVs but want to get away from high fuel prices. People who are entering the luxury market and are impressed with the technology of EVs.

PRICE: €79.500

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