The second in my series of test drives while my situation with Audi continues. Today I test drove the i-pace ev400. My observations are below:
- The interior is ok if a bit pedestrian compared to the EQC and e-tron. The dash extends pretty far ahead of the driver and the materials are good for the most part. There are a few questionable choices, and the seat adjustment buttons are the worst I’ve experienced in any car since…wait for it…I reviewed the 2nd generation Jaguar XF several years ago. The switchgear on the steering column isn’t particularly premium, and the steering wheel controls are the new dynamic touch kind that’s not particularly responsive. The camera rear-view mirror is pretty neat.
- The seats are more comfortable than those in the EQC but I still prefer those in the e-tron
- Jaguar’s new Pivi Pro infotainment system is a huge step up from the InControl Touch Pro it replaces. With that said I think Jaguar took a page out of the Mercedes playbook when they came up with the system though since it operates on many of the same principles, which makes it as challenging to use as MBUX. The voice command system is pretty much on par with the one in the e-tron. Cudos to their virtual instrument cluster though. It’s super bright and the graphics are crisp. My test car lacked a heads-up display though so I can’t comment on that
- The Meridian sound system in the i-pace is what you expect from a premium SUV. I listened to the same tracks as I did in the EQC and the difference was clear as day. Bright highs, no distortion, and great bass reproduction made for a pretty excellent listening experience. Getting back in the e-tron I listened to the same tracks and still came away impressed at the quality of the standard Audi sound system.
- Driving dynamics. The i-pace is very clearly a driver’s car. It’s fast, responsive, has excellent steering response, and feels pretty composed on the road but it is still a bit more crashy over humps than the e-tron. It is a better ride than the EQC, and the fact that the air suspension can be raised counts in its favour. One thing that bothered me a little was the limited visibility out of the rear window, but then again that’s where the camera rear view mirror comes in.
- Cabin noise/operation. There’s more cabin noise on the road compared to the e-tron but less than the EQC. A nice treat is the soundtrack that plays when the car is in dynamic mode. The touch screen climate control is a miss for me. There is a noticeable gap between the display and the touch surface, and the angle of the display and the panoramic roof makes it impossible to read at times. The push-pull dynamic climate knobs add too much complexity to something that should be super simple. It’s all just needlessly complicated.
I owned a Jaguar S-Type many years ago during the Ford era of Jaguar, so past ownership history does not exactly translate well in this case. I have driven the latest XJ, XF, and F-Pace models and the i-pace does feel like a step in the right direction, though there are still a few areas where quality corners are being cut.