Could this week’s road test subject be the most significant new car to leave the halls of a British manufacturer since the McLaren F1?
Don’t bet against it. For one thing, it is remarkable that the Jaguar I-Pace – not just a new Jaguar but a new breed of Jaguar, remember – was conceived in a mere four years.
Regardless of our verdict, this is a courageous project from a marque whose total annual sales amount to a fraction of what big-hitting Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz can muster. Despite the greater R&D budgets of its rivals, Jaguar has become the first established luxury car brand to bring its expertise to bear on a zero-emissions product.
The curious paradox is that the I-Pace is simultaneously the most limited and unrestricted Jaguar yet built. On one hand, to fulfil its potential it relies on the scope of a charging infrastructure outside of Jaguar’s direct control, and owners will need to plan activities in a way they simply wouldn’t need to if they owned a petrol-powered car. On the other, this opulently sleek, long-range electric car is claimed to accelerate to 60mph in less than five seconds but is uncommonly spacious within owing to its cleverly packaged powertrain.