First Look: Jaguar I-Pace Concept

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Jaguar is going electric. It’s happening, and you’re going to be able to drive a Jag EV very soon. The gorgeous, brawny sport-utility you see here, the I-Pace, is making its debut today in Los Angeles — and it’s slated to be in a showroom, in production form, a year from now.

If you’ve been following Jaguar design director Ian Callum’s thought process in the recent past, the appearance of the I-Pace shouldn’t be an enormous surprise. It melds Jaguar style with an SUV shape and electric power, hitting the three points moving the premium-luxury segment forward. At the New York Auto Show, Callum told us, “We’ve been working on electric. You’ll see an electric car from Jaguar eventually.” Callum’s prescient comments also make sense in terms of the design of the I-Pace’s short front end and unusually long wheelbase. Without having to worry about engine packaging in the front, he can shrink the size of the front end and focus on a long, flowing midsection.

The -Pace appellation denotes a Jaguar SUV, and draws the I-Pace EV concept close to the existing F-Pace. It’s a bold move for Jaguar to make the second SUV in its growing portfolio totally electric. Witness Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, which have an established lineup of sport-utility vehicles hitting almost every size class and category. Going EV was a smart way for Jaguar to differentiate its second-ever SUV.

It’s a less than subtle attempt to prove that luxury and style are congruous with electric efficiency. Where the exterior mirrors current Jaguar styling — from an XE-style front end to an F-Type rear, with F-Pace design cues throughout — the interior is an indication of where Jaguar is going. Digital screens take over the cockpit, with plenty of tactile knobs and buttons as primary controls. Expect this theme, toned down a touch, to make it through to production.

Under its sleek body, powering the I-Pace, is an 90-kWh battery, good for 400 hp and 516 instant lb-ft of torque — potentially making Jaguar’s second SUV as quick off the line as a mid-range Tesla Model S or Model X. It’s a dual-motor setup, like the most powerful “D” Teslas, making this Jag all-wheel-drive from the outset. Jaguar says to expect 0-to-60 times of about 4 seconds, and a range of 220 miles per full charge.

Despite their impressive statistics and capabilities, most electric cars are still hard to love — blame an attitude that still places style and refinement behind outright efficiency. With the I-Pace, Jaguar is flipping that mantra on its side. We’ll have our first look at the I-Pace this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.