A year ago, during a presentation in Milk Studios in Hollywood, Jaguar revealed to the world its vision for its first all-electric vehicle. Now we’re finally getting a chance to experience, albeit briefly, how the SUV known as I-PACE will perform once it goes into production next year.
The British automaker brought the I-PACE back to Los Angeles last week for the LA Auto Show—this time for a drive from West Hollywood into Beverly Hills—for its final range and durability tests. Jaguar Land Rover also took it for a 200-mile test drive from Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard to Central California’s Morro Bay on a single charge of its battery.
And Fortune was along for the Hollywood portion of the ride. Though Jaguar wasn’t ready to show off the final exterior and interior touches—the interior was completely covered, a standard practice among automakers, except for the steering wheel—it was possible to gauge the space. In short, it’s roomier than the car’s small stature would suggest.
Still, even under the camouflage wraps, this looks like a Jaguar. The five-seat SUV pulls its design inspiration from its C-X75 hybrid concept in the front and the F-PACE performance SUV in the rear. A scoop on the hood is still there.
The all-electric vehicle has a distinct cab forward and aerodynamic feel. Designers, untethered from the constraints of an internal combustion engine, were able to push the cabin forward and extend the wheelbase. The battery is under the vehicle giving it a low center of gravity. As a result, the I-PACE has a sportier feel, at least as a front seat passenger.
And yes, it does accelerate quickly. The I-PACE doesn’t have the same 0 to 60 mph neck-snapping zoom as the Tesla Model S in ludicrous mode. But it has punch and it corners well.
“This car is about 99% complete in terms of what the customer is going to get,” Simon Patel, the senior manager of battery electric vehicle propulsion at JLR told Fortune during the drive. The company says it has more than 200 production prototypes that have completed 1.5 million miles and 11,000 hours of testing.
Ian Hoban, Jaguar’s vehicle line director, contends the I-PACE is ready for long distances and will be able to charge the battery quickly. “Our target is a zero to 80% charge being achievable in a short break,” Hoban says.
The I-PACE marks an important juncture for Jaguar as it moves into the electric car market. More than 500 engineers have been working on this car for four years now.
But the company wouldn’t go into specifics with Fortune on all the details. Pricing and specifications will be announced in March 2018. Deliveries are expected to begin in early third-quarter of 2018, Patel says. The I-PACE will be produced by Magna Steyr, an operating unit of Magna Inc. (MGA), in Graz, Austria. JLR’s compact E-PACE SUV is also built at the factory.
JLR says the specs released last year are a good guide to what the final product will contain. At the time, the company said the Jaguar I-PACE would have a targeted range of 220 miles and be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. The vehicle also has dual electric motors for all-wheel drive traction.
The first “ride” also offered some clues. There are two forms of regenerative braking in the I-PACE. Regenerative braking, sometimes called regen, is when the vehicle’s kinetic energy is converted into chemical energy that can be stored in the battery and used later. This “braking,” which occurs when you take your foot off the accelerator, also slows the vehicle. This has the added benefit of saving the brakes on the car.
The standard mode of regen in the IPACE mimics the feel of an internal combustion engine. It’s a gradual slowdown. Another mode will put it in high-regen, which provides a more sudden stop. This high-regen mode allows for “one pedal” or “single foot” driving, a term that allows the driver to control the speed and braking using only the accelerator pedal.
Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover accelerated its plan to add hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles to its portfolio. The company announced in September that all Jaguar Land Rover cars will be available in an electric or hybrid version from 2020.