FARO, Portugal — About two dozen reporters this month drove all-wheel-drive Jaguar I-Pace crossovers across a stream nearly 45 cm (18 inches) deep here, then up a steep, dusty mountain road, then around a Formula One racetrack, deep into triple-digit speeds — all without burning a drop of fuel.
Two days of driving the battery-electric I-Pace some across southern Portugal convinced the nitpicky scribes that the I-Pace can more than compete with Tesla and electric vehicles coming soon from Audi and Porsche.
Its 90 kWh Lithium-ion battery delivers a 480 km (nearly 300 mile) range based on European WLTP cycle. The 394 silent hp and 696 Newton meters (512 pound-feet) of torque help to provide acceleration of 0 to 100 kph (60 mph) in 4.8 seconds. The I-Pace performs more like a sports car than a five-passenger midsize luxury crossver.
The looks are striking, it has a long list of standard luxury and safety features. Available to order now, prices start at 63,495 pounds in Jaguar's UK home market and $70,495 in the U.S., including shipping — at least $10,205 below the least expensive Tesla Model X, the only other electric crossover available.
Combine all that with a wide dealer network — which Tesla does not have — and the I-Pace looks like a hit for Jaguar.
Except that it may not be.
Despite a showroom of fresh vehicles, Jaguar has faltered this year mostly because of the industry shift away from cars. But the 2-year-old F-Pace, Jag's first crossover, also has lost steam. And a fuel-system problem stunted the launch of the compact E-Pace crossover this year. So, if one thing is clear, it's that the I-Pace, good as it is, is no slam dunk.
Jaguar Land Rover's toughest task — even more difficult than designing, engineering, testing and then getting the I-Pace to dealers ahead of the competition — will be marketing the vehicle.