New Jaguar I-Pace vs Tesla Model S
The electric car market is amping up with the arrival of the Jaguar I-Pace SUV. Has the Tesla Model S finally met its match?...
Tesla Model S 75D
List price £70,105
Target price £65,605
The premium electric car that the rest have to beat; it’s fast and has an impressive range.
Evolve or die. The war on fossil fuels threatens to wipe out the automotive industry as we know it. If it wishes to avoid the same fate as the dodo, it must adapt.
Maybe that’s being dramatic – there’s still plenty of life left in the internal combustion engine, after all – but electric car maker Tesla has certainly given us a glimpse into the future and put a cat among the pigeons in the process.
The Model S arrived in 2012 like a bolt from the blue. Since then, Tesla has been alone in offering truly premium electric cars that can realistically claim to cover 200-plus miles between charges. Until now.
Yep, Jaguar is rolling up its sleeves to take on Tesla with its first electric car: the I-Pace SUV. Some might argue that Tesla’s Model X is the main rival for the I-Pace, but on pricing and size it’s actually the Model S that’s the truer competitor.
We’re pitting the entry-level Model S 75D against the mid-range I-Pace SE. Both have a claimed real-world range around the 300-mile mark and straight-line performance to rival proper sports cars, and both are priced at around £70,000.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
With a motor driving each axle, making them four-wheel drive, both cars deliver neck-snappingly impressive acceleration from a standing start. Despite having a power advantage (394bhp versus 362bhp), the I-Pace is just pipped by the Model S to 60mph, although it begins to claw back some ground above 50mph. The truth is, you’ll find the performance on offer from both cars equally exhilarating.
The difference in handling is more obvious. The Model S has light but accurate steering that makes stringing together a series of sweeping corners effortless and even quite enjoyable, and the car always shifts its not-inconsiderable weight in a composed and measured manner.
The I-Pace handles tidily, too. Its steering is sharper and heavier, giving the impression that it’s the sportier car at low speeds. However, being taller and narrower than the Model S, it unsurprisingly suffers more body lean in faster corners and feels more reluctant to change direction in the first place. The I-Pace runs out of grip earlier as well, although both offer brilliant traction out of corners.
Both cars are very comfortable, although around town you feel more of bumps in the Model S due to its firmer suspension. Above about 40mph, though, it actually feels more settled than the I-Pace, which tends to fidget around a little more, even when fitted with optional air suspension (£1100), which the Model S gets as standard. Engine noise, meanwhile, is almost entirely absent in both, but the Model S is quieter on the whole.
The I-Pace’s brake pedal is far from ideal, though. There’s quite a bit of travel before anything happens, and then the pedal suddenly becomes sensitive. The response also changes as the regenerative brakes try to harvest energy to top up the battery, so you never really get used to it. In the Model S, it’s easier to brake smoothly, because the pressure you put on the pedal has a closer correlation to how quickly you stop.
What about range? Well, in our real-world range test which you can read more about here, the Model S managed 204 miles on a full charge. That’s not a bad result, and it will be far enough for many drivers. However, the I-Pace’s bigger battery helped it muster a more impressive 253 miles, which gives an extra level of peace of mind if you plan on doing longer journeys more often.
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