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Jaguar’s future looks like this 400hp all-electric crossover concept

We knew it was coming. Though some automakers have been more bullish, or more overt about electric vehicles, all brands are likely to embrace electrification at some point. Now it’s Jaguar’s turn.

Ahead of this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, the U.K. automaker has revealed its i-Pace concept, an all-electric crossover that previews the company’s first electric production model.

Digital Trends was one of a select few to glimpse the sleek EV as part of a virtual reality briefing. Basically, Jaguar created a virtual environment (via HTC Vive Headsets) for us to explore the vehicle in depth — all while Jaguar/Land Rover’s Head of Design, Ian Callum, walked us through its development and key features. It may sound odd to stage a virtual demo with the actual car just a few feet away, but the introduction in fact gave us “digital seat time” long before anyone will behind the wheel in person.

There’s a lot going on with this vehicle, but here are some of the biggest highlights:

  • 220 miles of EV range
  • 400 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque via front and rear motors
  • Five seats
  • 90 minutes of charge time to hit 80 percent battery capacity

“The i-Pace Concept is a radical departure for electric vehicles,” said Callum. “It’s a dramatic, future-facing design — the product of Jaguar DNA matched with beautiful, premium details and British craftsmanship.”

Jaguar’s latest styling cues are massaged into the low-riding vehicle. Without an internal combustion engine or transmission, however, the cabin has been moved further forward — unlike any current Jaguar model. Notably, Jaguar chose to keep a more traditional grille (which isn’t needed without an engine to cool) to maintain design lineage with current vehicles. Grille or not, the i-Pace touts an impressive 0.29 coefficient of drag.

Adding drama to the i-Pace’s exterior is a set of 23-inch Nighthawk wheels finished in dark gray and gloss black. The overall shape is somewhere in between the XE and F-Pace, with a coupe roofline and chopped rear end. Curvaceous LED taillights, pioneered by the F-Type, look sharp on the i-Pace.

Inside, Jaguar’s designers imagined a cockpit with advanced tech, high-end build materials, and a nicely contrasted layout.

“Our brief was to create a spacious performance SUV that could comfortably carry five people, stated Callum. “Otherwise we had a clean sheet of paper. To deliver this, we embraced the freedom that electrification offers designers.”

The i-Pace was made to emphasize a feeling of space and sportiness. To that end, driver and front passenger sit low for a crossover, and rear passengers have ample head and legroom. A 10.0-inch fully digital driver display and 12.0-inch infotainment screen dominate the dash, while a smaller, third display sits just below the center stack and shows climate control settings. The i-Pace features a Wi-Fi hot spot, inControl vehicle apps, and a new Spotify app.

Interior real estate that isn’t devoted to a screen is covered in Windsor leather, carbon fiber, Alcantara, aluminum, or open-pore walnut veneer. The entire roof is covered in glass to, again, promote the sense of space. At night, LEDs within the roof illuminate for some pizazz.

On the performance end, all-wheel drive, 400hp, and 516 lb-ft. of torque translate to a 0 to 60 mph sprint of about 4.0 seconds.

“Electric motors provide immediate response with no lag, no gearshifts, and no interruptions,” remarked Ian Hoban, Jaguar’s vehicle line director. “Their superior torque delivery compared to internal combustion engines transforms the driving experience.”

The i-Pace rides on an all-new platform, which integrates the car’s battery packs within the floor (like Tesla’s vehicles). The low center of gravity, aided by a double-wishbone front suspension, and Integral Link (multilink) rear suspension, affords the i-Pace agile driving dynamics.

If you’re intrigued by Jaguar’s latest concept, you’ll be pleased to know that a production version will be introduced late next year, and will go on sale in 2018. Pricing is anyone’s guess at this point, but the $40-$50,000 territory (before incentives) feels right.

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