When some manufacturers decide to build an electric car, they assume the car needs to look like it came from space.
Fortunately the I-Pace looks like a Jaguar on the outside, and the inside is not going to confuse petrol or diesel devotees. A typical start/stop button awakens the Big Cat, and the interior displays spring to life.
An interesting combination of dials, buttons, and touchscreens presents itself. You’ll want to put time aside to become familiar with what they all do, but you’ll quickly learn you’ve bought a very intelligent vehicle.
The first thing you’ll notice is one of the sexiest steering wheels we’ve seen in a long time. The shapes and cuts in the design, and subsequent placement of the buttons and thumb controls worked really well. A diamond icon allows you to set a custom control, such as quick access to your smartphone connection.
The 12.5-inch driver display is the next thing you notice. It’s a sharp, vibrant display which can be configured with the steering wheel controls. You can choose to have a single dial in the middle and modify what appears either side, or to simply have a large map.
There’s also a more conventional twin dial arrangement on offer if your last Jaguar was steam-powered and carried a not-so-faint whiff of colonialism.
The range of choices is broad, but we opted for a Now Playing audio display, kept the centre dial for speed and power, and set the navigation panel on the right-hand side for the most part.
Glancing through the windscreen reveals a large, clear head-up display capable of showing speed, driving directions, and alerts. In the evenings we turned the brightness down as the black projection could be distracting, but it’s better having the technology than not.
While we’re looking through that front window… it’s not part of the infotainment, but the adaptive high beam technology might need work. I’ve never been beeped and flashed so much by other drivers.
The system clearly doesn’t adapt to oncoming cars quickly enough, or didn’t seem to notice some of them at all. Something to be aware of.
Looking toward the middle of the car you’ll see the large infotainment display, but also notice a smaller display nestled between two dials. The main display is the home screen for accessing navigation, media, and phone.
With multiple screens to swipe through you’ll also have quick access to EV information and driving profiles. The onboard navigation is provided by Here Maps, and this is a good thing. You might even find it’s simpler and more intuitive than the smartphone navigation apps we tend to default to.
Within navigation you can see what’s within reach based on your batter charge levels, plan stops at public chargers, and even see information about how many plugs are available at those charging stations, if they’re equipped to share it.
Jaguar has an option to download the InControl app for smartphone apps and integration to the infotainment system. The app appears to be an attempt at avoiding Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but there aren’t a lot of supported features and it feels a bit clunky.
Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported, and both look great. Apple CarPlay will run five icons wide, and Android Auto stretches to four.
We were glad to see Jaguar ensure both platforms consume the entire display and look seamless in the I-Pace. What’s important to note is that the second display has a hidden advantage here. If you’re using navigation (Google Maps, onboard mapping, or Apple Maps) you can use the second display to control your audio.
We love that you don’t need to chop and change apps on the main display – Jaguar uses the two displays in a smart way, especially if you’re relying on that navigation.
This display normally presents air-conditioning controls, including the ability to control the heated and cooled seats.
You can choose to have the seat back hot or cold and the base off, both parts hot or cold, and both off. You can’t have the seat base hot and back cold, though.
The dials on the left and right can also manage these tasks, as they change functions in response to an initial push or pull. When most of the world wants to remove dials and buttons, this blend of digital and analogue works a treat.
Thanks to the addition of a 4G SIM card in the I-Pace you can hear the news from CNN or Reuters, look at weather reports, and check flight status on the infotainment system. The news reports are interesting. They aren’t a recorded audio clip being played, a Siri-style voice is actually reading written articles to you.
If parked you can read them yourself on the display, or head to websites like CarExpert to read the news you really want. The always-connected functionality naturally opens up the ability to control certain functions from your smartphone, such as turning on the air-conditioning and heated seats before you get to the car, flashing the lights, or ensuring the car is locked.
If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll also find the companion app a handy trick from your wrist.
Other connections in the car are plentiful, almost to the point of excess. The two front passengers have access to four USB ports: two in the centre console, and two hidden away beneath the central infotainment display.
Front passengers also have access to a 12V socket in that centre console. Rear passengers have two USB ports and one 12V socket. This means six USB devices could be connected at once, or eight with adapters in the 12V socket.
This is the largest portable charger I have ever driven.
Cameras on the Jaguar I-Pace provide a full 360-degree experience. You can select from multiple angles to ensure you don’t hit a single thing. A couple of things we did notice here, though.
Firstly, the front sensors and cameras don’t always initiate automatically. Pulling into the driveway we had to manually press the front sensors button on the infotainment system to wake it up, perhaps to avoid it beeping when you’re in traffic.
The I-Pace has a perfect camera on the front wheels to ensure they don’t hit gutters when parking, but given the large rear and limited visibility we would have liked to see this for the rear wheels also.
Lastly, while all cameras produce a great image, the feed only consumes a small portion of the large display. It looks odd, and just makes you wonder why Jaguar wasted that space.
Lastly, the audio system in the model we drove featured the 14-speaker, single-subwoofer arrangement from Meridian.
Capable of a stereo, Meridian, Dolby or DTS surround experience, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your music in the I-Pace. Given it’s also an electric vehicle, the speakers don’t compete for your attention so volumes don’t need to be high either.