This category really should be entitled ‘Is it a proper Jaguar?’ because that’s what everyone wants to know. And compared with many to which the leaper has been adhered over the years, the answer is a clear and resounding ‘you bet’.
Don’t be surprised that such an old name with a historically fairly, er, traditional clientele should suit such avant garde treatment so well; Jaguar is often prepared to innovate and, when it does, it (almost) always works. And rarely more convincingly than here.
The power delivery is very Jaguar, because it is effortless and instantly impressive. What you lose in aural involvement is more than offset by that silent lunge forward. Were this a sports car, I might feel differently; but it’s not and I don’t.
But that is not to say it is not a sporting car, for it very clearly is. Yes, its electrical architecture means it is heavy, but it also means that mass can be put in places no normal car could imagine. So it corners flat and fast, which is good. What is better is that it actually feels genuinely nimble, which is no mean feat given the weight and wheelbase, and it adjusts nicely to the throttle and steers exceptionally well for a two-tonne car. Yes, this is a Jaguar to drive.
And it’s also one in which to live. In design terms, the I-Pace is not just a hit on the outside, it’s got Jag’s best cabin in years. The wood in the test car looked absurd but happily it’s an option. The leather and metal look terrific, as do the TFT dials and two electronic touchscreens.
But the infotainment system is the same as that seen in more recent premium Jaguar Land Rover products and is as frustrating to use here as anywhere else. Also, there is a row of cheap plastic-looking buttons below the lower of the two touchscreens that look hideously out of place.
Even so, the cabin is airy and spacious, with room aplenty for four, even though I’d have been happier still if I could get more of my feet under the front seats when sitting in the back.
S trim cars like the one seen here kick off the I-Pace range, but our test car was outfitted with a plethora of options including a head-up display, Driver Assist pack with 360° parking cameras and adaptive cruise control, an uprated Meridian stereo system and powered tailgate. Boxes had also been ticked for adaptive dynamics, active air suspension and and adaptive surface response, bringing the total price as tested north of £80,000 - roughly the same as the top-end First Edition model. That's a big jump from the £58,995 base price once government incentives are taken into account.
The only nagging doubt left in my mind other than the usual, inevitable range issues (298 miles on the WLTP cycle) is the ride. I liked it because it’s soft enough to ensure good secondary comfort, yet is sufficiently controlled by its damping not to let its initial body roll in corners develop into anything unsettling, but I have a feeling that some might find the way it checks its body movements a little abrupt. And this model rides on optional air springs, so we’ll have to get back to you about how it rides on steel.