FARO, Portugal — About two dozen reporters this month drove a caravan of all-wheel-drive Jaguar I-Pace crossovers across a stream nearly 18 inches deep here, then up a steep, dusty mountain road, then around a Formula One racetrack, deep into triple-digit speeds — all without burning a drop of fuel.
Two days of driving the battery-electric I-Pace some 350 miles across southern Portugal convinced the nitpicky scribes that the new Jag has the chops to more than compete with Tesla and electric vehicles coming soon from Audi and Porsche.
With 240 miles available on a single charge, 394 silent hp and 512 pound-feet of torque providing acceleration to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the I-Pace performs more like a sports car than a five-passenger midsize luxury crossover. The looks are striking, it has a long list of standard luxury and safety features, and it arrives at dealerships in late August at a price starting at $70,495, including shipping — at least $10,205 below the least expensive Tesla Model X, the only other electric crossover available.
Combine all that with a national dealer network — which Tesla does not have — and the I-Pace looks like a LeBron James-style thunder dunk for Jaguar.
Except that it may not be.
Despite a showroom of fresh vehicles, Jaguar has faltered this year mostly because of the industry shift away from cars. But the 2-year-old F-Pace, Jag's first crossover, also has lost steam. And a fuel-system problem stunted the launch of the compact E-Pace crossover this year. So, if one thing is clear, it's that the I-Pace, good as it is, is no slam dunk.