The I-Pace, however, was “a chance to start afresh,” according to chief creative exterior designer Dominic Najafi, who adds that its conception was about “being open-minded and saying: ‘what does electrification give us?’”
A lot, as it turns out. Alister Whelan, Jaguar’s chief interior designer, calls the I-Pace “a blueprint for the future”. “It’s already been out for 18 months,” he says, “so if we’ve created it now, the future could be even more exciting for us.” He adds: “We just need to be careful that we appeal to all our customers and give them choice, but the electric platform and what we’ve started with the I-Pace could open up lots of potentials.”
Let’s not forget that Gaydon beat its Stuttgart, Ingolstadt and Munich rivals to the punch with a stylish electric SUV at a time when its standing in the hotly contested premium segment was under intense scrutiny. A premium electric SUV that’s consistently proved its dynamic and practical worth in Autocar’s road trips, reviews and group tests, no less. So it seems only fitting that the I-Pace has yet to find its way off the red carpet; it wasn’t just Jaguar’s first step into a new segment, it was our first taste of a model category that’s likely to become the industry’s most popular and influential in the coming years.
The designers are keen to stress that, although the I-Pace is very much “still a Jaguar”, it forms part of a bold strategy, Najafi says, to “make everything as progressive as possible”. There’s hints of past models there, for sure, but the I-Pace’s stylists’ overarching brief was not: “make it look like a C-X75 SUV”.
As we learn in a fast-paced design masterclass, the I-Pace is an embodiment of Jaguar’s ambition to make each of its models “the most dramatic cars in their segment”. The SUV is assisted in this endeavour by a cab-forward stance reminiscent of track-focused, mid-engined supercars, short overhangs, prominent rear haunches, thin pillars and heavily accentuated character lines. That’s not to mention the sheer amount of work that went into shaping the model’s spats, dog leg, light catcher, tumblehome and obscuration band…
Unfortunately, Autocar was unable to do justice to the I-Pace’s pleasing stance and silhouette when it came to our turn to pick up the pen. Not even the best efforts of Jaguar’s most talented designers could prevent our interpretation of Callum’s landmark EV from turning into a shoddily crafted caricature of a London bus. It was interesting, nonetheless, to see how a Jaguar, literally, ‘takes shape’.
Start at the bottom. The wheels (hilariously oversized for a concept, naturally) go on the page first, followed by a dramatically angled character line, A-pillar, beltline and rocker, or sill. Before thinking about arches and door shuts, it’s a good idea to get the DLO (that’s ‘daylight opening’) in place, as this is one of the I-Pace’s defining features, and tacking on the easily recognisable rear spoiler and light cluster.