latest automotive news, best new and used cars, find a new car 4e907_jagipacevrevent141116001-610x407 Jaguar I-Pace Concept: Electric Cat to Slink onto Roads in 2018 Jaguar

Jaguar has pulled the wraps off its I-Pace Concept SUV ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, but this prototype isn’t just a one-off piece of vaporware, never to be seen again.

The automaker’s first electric vehicle is a go, and is expected to hit the road in 2018 to challenge Tesla’s Model X in the fledgling premium electric SUV segment.

Riding atop a homegrown EV platform built to underpin a range of EV models, the I-Pace aims to be the emissions-free brother of the brand’s popular F-Pace. Make that a cousin, as the I-Pace looks nothing like its conventionally styled stablemate. Low, with a short nose, severely slanted rear glass and a cab-forward layout, the I-pace might have some wondering if it fits the “SUV” label.

Well, Jaguar says it does, and the fact that it has a liftgate and a name that doesn’t end in “Type” should (apparently) be all the evidence one needs.

Power and traction are easy to come by, but the I-Pace needs to satisfy another element if it wants to compete: range. Jaguar claims the I-Pace should be good for 220 miles of it, thanks to its 90 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Like the platform, the vehicle’s battery pack was also designed in-house. The company claims that a full recharge at a public 50 kW DC charging station should take two hours.

Motivating this beast are two electric motors, each driving one axle. The combined output — 400 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque — should see the all-wheel-drive vehicle accelerate to 60 miles per hour in four seconds. The low center of gravity provided by the in-floor battery pack coupled with lag-free electric torque should equal a compelling ride, assuming platform and body stiffness is up to snuff. The company claims it has borrowed some suspension components from the F-Pace, so the tossability factor could be high.

Jaguar’s director of design, Ian Callum, claims he wants the I-Pace to ooze British craftsmanship, both mechanical and technological. Once it hits the roads, drivers can expect two touchscreens and a host of creature comforts, including a panoramic sunroof and probably half a herd’s worth of supple hide.

A production version of the I-Pace should appear next year, ahead of its 2018 on-sale date.

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]