The new Jaguar iPace is the electric car that could overtake Tesla

Look out Tesla: Jaguar is on the electric warpath.

Its weapon of choice is the i-Pace and it arrives in Australia in October to provide a fuel-free luxury SUV alternative.

Priced from $119,000, the i-Pace is a five-seat SUV that can travel up to 480km on its 90kWh battery.

Despite being produced by one of the oldest and most traditional British car brands, fans of electric cars partially have Tesla to thank for the i-Pace.

Without the success of the fledgling American brand in making electric cars sexy, the i-Pace would likely not exist – at least not now.

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From petrol to electrons

Despite being close in principal to the Tesla Model X in terms of what it delivers, Jaguar is looking elsewhere to tempt would-be buyers.

Blame it on the evangelical nature of many Tesla buyers, which means they are unlikely to look elsewhere.

Those prepared to pay big money for the electric machines play a crucial role in marketing the car, acting as unpaid ambassadors due to their love of the brand.

Treading carefully

The i-Pace is a city-focused SUV, but Jaguar has also injected plenty of off-road smarts, many gleaned from sister company Land Rover.

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While fixed coil spring suspension is standard, there's an optional air suspension setup ($2002) that allows the car to be raised 50mm for better ground clearance off-road.

Traction control has also been tailored for slippery surfaces and the car can traverse through up to half a metre of water, up there with many of the best off-roaders.

Smart thinking

The latest Jag will be way smarter than the average house, with the ability to link in to smart homes.

Approach your house and you can turn on lights and ventilation from the car. It can even switch on the nightly news so you're suitably informed as you walk in the door.

Of course, most homes won't have the connectivity or smarts to react with the car – yet.

However, the Alexa smart speaker will also help the other way. Ask it how much charge remains in the battery or to heat the cabin for you and it will respond.

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Getting smarter

The i-Pace is one of the first cars to employ artificial intelligence, or machine learning.

However, it's only for infotainment and comfort functions, not for how the car drives.

A Bluetooth key is at its heart, paired to the driver.

When you unlock the car – the flush door handles sliding out - the key can pre-program the ventilation, seat and audio settings to your preferences.

The difference is in how it goes about doing that.

Instead of being programmed, the car spends about two weeks learning your preferences.

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You might like to super warm the cabin with a rush of air to your feet on cold mornings, for example, but prefer a cooler breeze to your face once the sun comes out. The car can learn that and automatically make selections based on your patterns of behaviour.

Topping up

While Jaguar claims an 80 per cent charge can take as little as 40 minutes, it relies on the appropriate 100kW DC charging, something not available yet in Australia.

A 7kW home wall charger (about $1500 installed) does a complete charge in 12.9 hours.

But if all you've got is a household powerpoint you're looking at 38 hours from an empty battery to the full 480km range.

Most people will not use anything like that in an average day, meaning charging times will typically be shorter.

Jaguar is also using AI to estimate how far you will get on a charge.

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It not only considers how many hills you'll encounter and what the traffic is like but also your driving style and even the outside temperature.

Powerful stuff

All i-Paces share the same twin electric motors producing 147kW and 348Nm each.

Combined outputs are 294kW and 696Nm, which is akin to a modern turbocharged V8.

Performance, too, is V8-like, with the 0-100km/h sprint taking 4.8 seconds.

Response to throttle inputs is almost instant, with a giant dollop of torque to thrust you back in your seat.

Digging deep

One of the big barriers with electric cars is the cost – and it's no different with the i-Pace.

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Pricing kicks off at $119,000 for the S (with fake leather and 18-inch wheels) and continues through the SE, HSE and limited run Launch Edition that tops out at $159,700.

The HSE and Launch Edition get extras such as radar cruise, a powered tailgate, Windsor leather and 20-inch alloys (22s can be optioned).

All come with a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster and a 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, as well as more than 30 in-built apps, a wifi hotspot and Meridian sound system.

As an entrant in the emerging electric vehicle market it makes a powerful statement.