Looking to challenge Tesla at the game it started is Jaguar, a surprising early comer in the upscale electric vehicle category for 2019 with an all-new model called the I-Pace.
Now you, like us, may find it confusing that Jag's first EV is not called the E-Pace; that name is reserved for a small crossover that is powered by a more conventional gasoline engine and does not derive any of its forward motivation whatsoever from electricity.
Our nomenclature-based gripe out of the way, let's talk about what the I-Pace is. Jaguar calls it a crossover, but we think that's a marketing-driven use of a term chosen simply to attract more potential buyers. In truth, it's a compact about the size of the XE sedan, but with a hatchback where that car's trunk would be.
Electricity is stored in a 90 kWh battery pack that Jaguar says holds enough juice to allow driving range of up to 380 km, while a pair of electric motors (one at each axle) turn those volts and amps into 400 hp and 513 lb-ft of torque.
As the I-Pace rides on a bespoke aluminum-intensive platform, Jaguar was able to stash the battery into the floor between the front and rear axles where it doesn't impinge on cargo or cabin space but does contribute to a lower centre of gravity, which should have a positive impact on handling.
Jaguar is not the first automaker to bring a full electric to the premium space, mostly thanks to Tesla's well-established presence here, but we have no doubt this British brand's experience will help it avoid the production nightmares that have plagued an overambitious Tesla in the roll-out of its Model 3 compact. In bringing out the I-Pace now, Jag also beats Porsche to the punch, with that company still gearing up to produce its forthcoming Mission E.
In entry-level S trim, the I-Pace includes 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, eight-way "semi-powered" front seats, Luxtec upholstery, the Touch Pro Duo dual-screen infotainment system shared with Land Rover, park assist, 360-degree exterior camera system, rear traffic monitor and a fixed panoramic roof.
Move up to SE trim to get 20-inch wheels, premium LED headlights with signature daytime running lights, 10-way power front seats, grained leather upholstery and adaptive cruise with stop-and-go and automatic emergency braking.
The HSE package adds unique 20-inch wheels, 18-way front seats with heating and cooling and Windsor leather upholstery.
Finally, for its marketplace debut, the I-Pace can also be had in a First Edition trim that packs in heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, extended leather interior, suedecloth headliner, charcoal ash wood veneer, head-up display, adaptive dynamics and adaptive surface response, configurable ambient lighting, four-zone climate control and activity key.