In theory, most rev-blooded car enthusiasts are sure to hate electric vehicles, because they are the antithesis of the fire-breathing, dinosaur-carcass-burning machines that they’ve worshipped all their lives.

And yet I would defy anyone who loves cars to spend a day in Jaguar’s new I-Pace – arguably the first and certainly the most impressive effort by an established global brand to take on the disruptive yet tiny Tesla – and not be blown away.

After all, if you’re a fan of cars you’d have to love the design; Jag’s design chief, Ian Callum, described it as an opportunity to truly change the look of motor vehicles for the first time in more than a century.

This car doesn’t need a big heavy engine in the nose, so all that space at the front of the car was freed up, and Callum used it to push the cabin forward, giving it not just more interior space but a truly unique profile.

Shoving all the motive gubbins under the floor, in what’s called a skateboard design, also means this sporty SUV sits lower than any other (it’s just 1,565mm tall, 4,682mm long, and 2,139mm wide), without reducing the headroom, which means it looks like a sedan in a sleekified sumo suit, rather than a slightly shrunken truck.

The interior is also future fabulous, with slick screens and lots of artistic use of space, but it’s the tech that you can access via those screens that anyone who’s ever cooed over an iPad, or marvelled at a Porsche, will find irresistible.

You can create a profile for yourself, which not only uses your bluetooth key to set up the seats, steering wheel, aircon and stereo the way you like them as you approach the car, but via an AI assistant it gradually learns your habits and reminds you if it thinks you’ve forgotten something.

If you always call your partner around 7pm to say you’re finally coming home, for example, it will remind you to do so if you don’t. You can also use a calendar in the dash to “precondition” your vehicle for a certain time when you know you want to drive it the next day.

This means the car will ensure it is fully charged by that time (assuming you’ve bought a wall charger for your house, of course, for faster charging, at just A$2,500 or so), and will use the mains power it’s still plugged into to cool the cabin to your required temperature on hot days.

And, perhaps predicting the enthusiast’s biggest complaint, there’s even a setting that allows you to adjust the amount of fake whooshing noises that the I-Pace will pump through its speakers, getting louder the faster you accelerate.

No, to be fair, this is nowhere near as nice to listen to as a traditional exhaust, but there’s something very Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon/Doctor Strange about the noises it makes, and if you don’t like them you can turn them off.

If you do, however, prepare to be deeply discombobulated. The I-Pace is so quiet when it’s in motion that your body’s first reaction is to suspect that you’ve accidentally perforated your own ear drums. Or that you’re in a Doctor Who episode where someone has mysteriously turned all the sounds off, for no apparent reason.

Combine the weird silence with the slick, space-age interior, and the cool sound effects, and it does give a futuristic aura to the whole Jaguar EV-driving experience.

Any car nut of an engineering bent will also love the fact that you can press a button to change the amount of resistance the electric motors provide. When this is turned up to high, you barely need to use your brakes at all, so effective is the stopping force you get just by taking your foot off the throttle.

This, perhaps more than anything else about an EV, is really strange, because it instantly requires that you drive the car in a different way.

And then there’s the fun stuff, like the fact that the two electric motors (one on each axle, providing electronic all-wheel drive) are attached to a single-speed transmission, which means neither you nor the car need ever change gears.

And that means a form of propulsion that is truly seamless, with no little mini-hiccups as you accelerate.
Throw in the fact that an EV like the I-Pace – with its 294kW and 696Nm of power – can provide all its torque instantly, from zero rpm, and you’ve got a vehicle that will make you snort loudly when you put your foot down.

This big, comfortable family SUV can zap to 100km/h in a very fast-feeling 4.8 seconds, and its mid-range acceleration, for when you need to overtake, is perhaps even more impressive.

Jaguar I-Pace

The I-Pace also steers with all the chunky goodness of a Jaguar, rides beautifully and is genuinely fun to throw through corners.

Yes, every car-mad nutter will point out that the sense of silence and peace you get is no replacement for a screaming engine sound, and I agree, but if this the future we’re facing, it really doesn’t seem so awful.

Yes, every car-mad nutter will point out that the sense of silence and peace you get is no replacement for a screaming engine sound, and I agree, but if this the future we’re facing, it really doesn’t seem so awful.

The other issue, of course, in Australia is that the number of places you can charge an EV like this remains woefully small at present, but it is slowly building up, with plenty of encouragement from Jaguar Australia.

If you have got somewhere to charge your I-Pace, unlike this inner-city resident, it will take 12.9 hours to get a full charge using a regular power point (although you’ll get to 80 per cent in 10 hours), but if you install a fast charger you can get an 80 per cent charge in just 10 minutes.

That, truly, is the future, because it will make EVs almost as time efficient as conventional cars, although the I-Pace’s maximum range is still just 490km.

Jaguar is asking a starting price of just below A$120,000 (US$69,500, €82,000), but more up-spec models will no doubt be more popular, at around the A$150K mark.

In 20 years’ time, it will be interesting to see how many car enthusiasts have come around to the EV way, and whether this Jaguar I-Pace will be remembered as the one that turned the tide.