It’s no stretch to call the I-Pace a milestone in the dynamic development of electric cars. Thus far, the genre has been hamstrung by its inability to deliver anything offering satisfactory levels of feel, agility or engagement, to the extent that it seems many manufacturers simply gave up on the prospect early on. But where there has been mostly darkness, the I-Pace brings light.
Jaguar’s electromechanical steering not only possesses pleasing heft but weights up in a linear fashion. It’s also just about quick enough to yield an agility unknown to cars this heavy, and so in the I-Pace you flow through direction changes with an economy of movement that comes as a pleasant surprise.
Of course, weight is the biggest dynamic barrier for electric cars, and yet the Jaguar manages well here also. It is not by any stretch a light car, but confining the battery pack to a low, wide section of chassis real-estate between the axles does to some extent convert a weakness into a strength. On its optional air suspension, even committed cornering is dispatched with impressively little body roll and a neutral balance that will be alien to those familiar with a Model S.
There is some throttle adjustability, too, and through corners you get the welcome sensation of the car confidently pushing itself along – up to a point. Heavy-handed driving will always be punished, though. The car’s narrow tyres clearly have only so much to give and, when they run out of grip, the I-Pace’s electronic stability program interjects in abrupt and draconian fashion – probably the only way it can to save the driver from dialling up so much instant torque at the outside wheels that the understeer would be cataclysmic.
The good news? That a well-timed lift will see the rear axle gently rotate during corner entry. And furthermore that, if you’re smooth and proportionate with your inputs, the I-Pace responds with a delicate, level, fluent keenness we’ve not yet seen from larger electric cars until now. Less delicate is the ride quality.
With so much weight and power to contain, it was almost inevitable the I-Pace would seem firm in most driving scenarios. The car can fidget over bigger intrusions and body movements are sometimes dealt with a touch too abruptly for our liking. This is not to say the car is at all jarring about town or uncouth at a cruise, but there is room for improvement in both respects.