Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Track Test: The Dawn Of A New Era


We drive the latest electric car to bring high voltage to motorsport.

Here is the reality of watching a motor race. You stand at a wind-swept track, far from civilization. On the rare occasion it doesn’t rain, you will get sunburnt. Nobody knows who is in what position as the big screens are too far away to read and the PA system is nothing more than white noise. The food’s only fit for the trash bin. And on the drive home you’ll notice your ears are ringing and you have a headache.

Electric car racing hopes to change all that. The new Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy championship is joining the FIA Formula E series, starting this December. The cars will race around the streets of some of the most glamorous cities in the world – from New York to Paris. There will be no ear-splitting noise and no eye-watering fumes. And after the race you’ll be able to visit the latest hip restaurant or shop ‘til you drop.

In a world that is steering a course toward the electric car, this, says Jaguar, is the future of motor racing.

Last year, three million battery-powered vehicles were on the road. By 2030, the International Energy Agency predicts there will be 125 million.

So Jaguar is investing a small fortune in racing alongside Formula E, as it aims to maintain any momentum gained from bringing its new all-electric I-Pace production car to showrooms long before electric cars from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes.

Racing in the I-Pace eTrophy won’t be cheap. The car costs $260,000 to own outright, or around $83,000 to lease for a season, and Jaguar charges a further $578,000 to run it in the championship for drivers, as part of what’s known as an ‘arrive and drive’ package.

Is this the sort of racing car drivers want to race, though? And will fans pay good money to watch them go wheel-to-wheel?


First impressions

Transforming a road-going Jaguar I-Pace to a racing car is the job of engineers at Jaguar Racing. And it’s fair to say the challenge was making the electric SUV lighter.

Colin Ramsden, the engineer leading development of the I-Pace eTrophy car, puts it like this: “It’s not a light race car, but the driver feedback is very good and importantly it doesn’t feel its weight.” He and his team have managed to drop the weight from 4,702 pounds to 4,398 pounds.

Everything from inside the car – the seats, trim, sound proofing materials, fancy double-decker touchscreen system and digital instrument display – has been thrown out. The aluminum bodyshell is dressed in light, composite and carbon fibre panels. Then a roll cage, race seat, and racing pedals are added, there’s a Cosworth digital display, a panel of switchgear – including buttons for the car’s transmission – and it’s finished off with a racing steering wheel that lets the driver fiddle with settings for the AP Racing anti-lock brakes, the powertrain’s torque maps, and the energy recuperation.

The powertrain of the battery pack and two electric motors is the same as the road car’s. That means this two-ton race car has 395 horsepower and 513 pound-feet of torque. However, with a smile on his face Ramsden says, “we have tweaked the software.”

This is a relatively simple race car. Drivers can adjust the front and rear anti-roll bars, the compression and rebound of the dampers, and play with the camber and rear wing, but that’s about it.

The cars will be run on road tires, which is curious. Admittedly, they’re the Michelin Pilot Sport 4, but in the early stages of a race, tire conservation may be critical, as by the end of 30 minutes they are likely to be past their best – although Jaguar says they last the distance.

Will there be some sort of ‘push to pass’ boost feature? Jaguar Racing hasn’t yet decided.

As for the championship’s eco credentials, there is still room for improvement. The cars’ batteries are ultimately charged by generators burning biodiesel. Until all those involved in putting on the show can switch to renewable energy, such as solar power and energy storage solutions, there’s some fine-tuning required further down the road.


How does it drive?

The way the I-Pace eTrophy race cars drive has been set-up by the company’s SVO division – Special Vehicle Operations – also responsible for Jaguar’s high-performance road cars, like the F-Type SVR.

As mentioned, as racing cars go, this one’s unlikely to win your office-wide weight loss competition. However, it is helped by the fact that the weight – the battery pack – is under the floor of the car, keeping the center of gravity low.

And sure enough, around the Stowe circuit complex, on the infield of Silverstone’s Grand Prix track, the I-Pace eTrophy feels surprisingly agile. It responds quickly to steering inputs, the Michelins hold the road determinedly, and quick direction changes through a sequence of successive corners don’t trip it up.

The acceleration is brisk rather than brutal. It can go from 0-62 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, and with no noise and a flat torque curve, the rate at which the I-Pace eTrophy racer builds speed is deceptive.

With some heat in the tires and brakes, it’s time to start exploring the car’s limits – and they are mostly determined by the brakes. It’s a good thing drivers will be wearing HANS neck restraints, because the AP Racing anti-lock brakes are phenomenally powerful, even for a racing car. Getting one over on rivals is undoubtedly going to come down to being the last of the late brakers.

It’s also odd to hear in such detail those brakes going about their work. With no supercharged V8 under the hood, drivers are going to have to tune themselves into other reference points to get a feel for how hard they’re working the electric race car.

Because the two electric motors give the I-Pace eTrophy four-wheel drive, there’s no wheelspin, and when you give the tires too much to do, the nose will gently push wide, with plenty of warning.

Trail-brake into a corner and the I-Pace eTrophy shuffles its weight around a little, to help the nose bite into an apex. But that’s about it. It isn’t likely to challenge the abilities of the sort of drivers that are inquiring about the championship – Katherine Legge has confirmed; interested parties are said to be from GTs, Indycar, and Formula 2.


Should I race one?

This may not be the fastest nor the most challenging race car to drive, but the spectacle of 20 identical cars charging nose-to-tail, and leaning on one another’s door handles as they make their way around city center tracks could be an amusing downtown diversion on a sunny Sunday.

For drivers, the cost is prohibitive. However, the opportunity to join a new dawn of electric car racing is not to be underestimated. Car manufacturers and sponsors are eager to align themselves with high voltage racing. And I-Pace eTrophy offers a stepping stone to Formula E, which could ultimately result in a drive for a factory team.

And as any good racing driver knows, go-for-broke racing isn’t always the best approach. Sometimes tactics have to come into play.


Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy racing car

Championship format: 10 x city races following Formula E calendar
Base price: $83,000 to lease for one season; $578,000 for vehicle maintenance
Powertrain: Two electric motors, 395 np and 513 lb-ft of torque; powered by 90kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed, all-wheel drive
Acceleration 0-62 mph: 4.5 sec
Top speed: 121 mph
Weight: 4,398 pounds


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Categories: Formula E, General, Jaguar, Racing

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45 Comments on "Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Track Test: The Dawn Of A New Era"

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With fake grill and fake engine sound….we have a long way to go still…

You got to be kidding, they have fake engine sound?

Way to much artifacts from an old ICE.

But as Victor said it is optional, you can turn if off. Thank god (expression only, no sane person would believe in such fiction)… I did not know that until now, I saw some review where they said it could not be turned off, that must have ben wrong (or they added the option).

Not like an ICE engine sound.

the grill is actually used for cool IIRC.

The fake sound is optional (meaning you can turn it off, some like it, some dont)

Also, the sound doesn’t sound like a car engine, but like what hollywood would think a future/”if-the-jetsons-were-real” car would sound like.

They are supposedly using parts of the grill for that, but they don’t need to.

Almost all of it is just design, last century design, for function they could have gotten rid of it.

It’s still an all-electric car (and a very good one) whether or not you can dial up motor sounds or it has a grille. If it gets more people to like its look and adopt EVs due to the traditional front end and potential for some “soothing” sounds, so be it. It’s important to be careful not to discount new EV makers for such minor details. Yes, EV aficionados are often turned off by such things, but the masses may be drawn to those same minor details. It’s just too bad that even if the car is super popular, Jaguar likely won’t be able to make it in any huge volume at first.

It’s not just a soothing noise, it’s going to be a legal requirement in the EU after 2021(and the US next year) and industry standard for EVs, at least for when the vehicle is moving slower.

EV’s are currently 40% more likely to hit a pedestrian than ICE vehicles so the noise is going to be a feature for safety reasons.

This is different, though. It’s an internal cockpit sound for the driver’s benefit. It’s not the external pedestrian warning. Also, that warning sound wouldn’t be able to be turned off.

But I do hope that external sound is as cool as this one, not just some pip pip pip or the Pikes Peak horror ambulance sound

Maybe a new market, like ringtone sellers of old? Customise your pedestrian warning noise to crazy frog, ice cream van or scream theme, unless you’re Tesla (Apple) and you’ll have to stick with the default for another five years!


Or the silly fake gas engine sounds BMW pipes into the interior of the i8 and other models…

Ahh, ok, so more like the sound pumped into some ICE vehicles – such as the Ecoboost equipped F150s and Mustangs to make them sound more like V8’s?

If I have to get a car with pedestrian warning sounds, I’m finding those speakers and disconnecting the wires.

Haha. Nice

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that more and more are coming with EVs and the I Pace has a great design and built as an EV from the ground up, with some small exceptions of having some artifacts from the past.

Artifacts that will disappear with time and as the models develops.

Even Tesla started with such artifacts like the nosecone, not a fake grill but not far from it, and the long front to be able to fit a side way V8 if needed. 😉

Grills…long fronts… exhaust pipes…transmission tunnels… gear levers… engine sounds… and many other things will disappear sometime in the future from EVs.

Very true!

I don’t think Jaguar ever intended the car to be built in any semblance of large volume, let alone huge volume.

This current slate of expensive two row BEV SUVs from legacy European luxury carmakers are boutique models not intended to compete with their voluminous numbers of ICE models.

The fake grille and sounds do point to a complete unwillingness by their makers to accept that the consumer can be delighted and satisfied with and by the sheer EV experience alone. Yet with sales through the roof and a waiting line Taylor Swift concert promoters would be thrilled with, Tesla proves that the draw of BEVs is their unique qualities, not their sameness and familiarity with conventional cars.

The cleverly designed brand-familiar I-Pace grille does create drag and greatly reduces any practical space there could be in it’s frunk.

I just listen to the sound and hate it.
But by 2020 electric car will have to emit sound at low speed for pedestrians (in the U.S. at least).
I have been listening to new ICE car lately and the only thing I could hear was the noise made by tires, unless you accelerate, ICE car are almost as silent as electric car.

On the outside that is, if it gets implemented. Fake sounds on the inside is just horrible.

Absolutly thru.

But why can ICE go without it?

I was also surprise by quiet ICE vehicule.

Just another perception distortion against new thing like EV, I guess.

It doesn’t sound all that much like an engine sound. It primarily serves the purpose of sensory feedback.

Based on videos, it is a very unique and satisfying noise. I kind of like it actually.

Jaguar says it is optional though from what I have read.

It is actually pretty cool. I eventually turned it off when we were in Portugal, or at least toned it down, but my passenger loved it. It doesn’t sound like an engine. It has a spinning motor type sound and might be loved by some people. Fortunately, you can turn it on, off, or adjust its presence in conjunction with other settings or individually.

Every time there’s news on an electric car that isn’t a Tesla, the Tesla snobs show up.

You noticed that did you? If the car falls short of the Tesla “ideal” it is dumped on. If it nails all the hallmarks of the Tesla, it is claimed a fake copy by a wannabe company and dumped on. This is Tesla country, so if you find something other than Tesla appealing, be prepared to read a hundred reasons why it’s crap. If you find something not so great with a Tesla, be prepared fro loads of thumbs down. Just how it is.

Yes, ideal, not even the real thing. I remember, back in 2014 , seeing the Nissan Leaf being compared to what a supposed 2016 model 3 would be like.

So stop complaining negatively like them and just say you like it.

Just don’t mention any reference to those evangelist would do better than your complain.

The Jaguar I-pace is very interesting and I love it, it doesn’t mean other car ain’t good.

No video?

Not this time, but maybe soon.

4,398lb Jag. I’m guessing we don’t even have a date for full specs, on Taycan, but with battery nearly the same size, it comes down to the side of 4,398 we think the Porsche will be?

My guess – long side, or 4,750

Can’t wait until a “frag-me” special shows up, at 2,XXX pounds, whose battery you just know you’re going to replace a bit less frequently than maybe your racing tires. Yeah. Wish those days didn’t seem so far away.

I’m not convinced by this “race” car. I’m not sure it will give a positive image to BEV.

Just to be more accurate, I love EV and can’t wait for them to be everywhere but I wonder if this car won’t be to easy to criticize for anti-EV people.

I think it’s already possible to make interesting EV race cars like the formula-e gen 2 coming in December, or a 100 kWh version of VW I.D R (less powerful maybe). And IMHO, a 4,398 pounds SUV with production batteries may not be the best choice. Except if it’s affordable but it’s clearly not the case.

300 pounds weight reduction is a disappointment.

Sure, why not 800, 1000, maybe 1500. Should be super easy. Just carbon fiber everywhere. Woo Hoo!! Engineering is easy.

What am I missing? the Model 3 performance beats it to 60 by a full second and a 30 mph top speed – out of the box, no race mods. It has been clocked at 3.15 or something to 60. With weight reductions it would spank the Jag even more than it does stock. … I want to see the Model 3 race series instead instead of a lumbering crossover with a huge grill and race dress on. Cost wise – the car is cheaper as well.

Because that’s what defines a race car. 0-60. Right.

Its always interesting seeing trolls criticize EVs. It used to be a raw horsepower drag strip question. Since that battle has long been lost, the trolls insist that they aren’t “driver’s” cars. The Model 3 is a driver’s car in every sense. The m3 performance version hadily beats the BMW M3 – long considered the litmus test for driver’s cars. When the new Roadster comes out it will dominate any sports car on the road. You trolls have a closing window as EVs are the future and are superior in every way. It is time to focus your troll efforts somewhere else as it is just irrelevant noise in the background now. I almost feel sorry for you but not really.

Performance model has a limp mode as well although not as severe as Model S

So not competitive with a production Model 3P.

Base price: $83,000 to lease for one season; $578,000 for vehicle maintenance
Powertrain: Two electric motors, 395 np and 513 lb-ft of torque; powered by 90kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed, all-wheel drive
Acceleration 0-62 mph: 4.5 sec
Top speed: 121 mph
Weight: 4,398 pounds

Model 3P
Price $64,000 – $78,000
Powertrain: three-phase, four-pole induction motor (front), permanent magnet motor (rear) and all-wheel drive; drive inverter with regenerative braking; 75 kWh lithium battery and onboard charger.
335 kW (450 hp)
EPA Range 310 miles
Recharge Time 170 miles of range per 30 minutes (supercharger)
0-60 mph 3.5 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
Curb Weight 4,072 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy 116 MPG-e

When a racing company takes a road car and modify it to make it race safe and sturdy…the price inflates quite rapidly.
Look at the mini cooper modified by ProDrive…I think it retails for 400000$. But they make it sturdy enough to jump small sand dunes.
An equivalent modified model 3 probably would be as pricy as the Jaguar.

but significantly faster, lighter and more fun to drive… midsize sports sedan vs a crossover suv – which would you rather race?

Should be fun to watch. Too bad it isn’t rallycross style.

I’m very impressed with Jaguar’s recent efforts to go electric, and being the first to build a factory racing version of their electric car, that’s amazing.