AS THOMAS Edison might have said: ‘I’ve seen the light!’ I now believe.

This messianic lightning strike came to me when I was one of the first in the UK to drive the new Jaguar i-Pace at the Jim Clark Award ceremony, recently. Until that time, I was in the ‘pooh-pooh brigade’ regarding electric cars.

But, after driving this excellently designed (by Scotsman, Ian Callum) tour de force, I am now an almost complete convert to the notion of battery powered vehicles.

The i-Pace is an evolutionary part of the F-Pace SUV design which has done so well for the company. That means, outwardly, there’s nothing much to give it away, other than the badging and the fact that the lack of a conventional drivetrain allows the design to be made to look a bit sleeker, giving it an edge on aerodynamics. And, there’s no exhaust pipe sticking out of the back.

You might also notice that a ‘fuel filler’ cap is nowhere to be seen at the rear quarters, but there is something akin to one mounted on the nearside front wing. That’s the place for the charging point.

At the moment, there’s only one version. That’s the 396bhp EV400 and the incredible thing about it is it has a 298-mile range from a 12-hour charge from a 7kW home charger. Some of the ‘commercial’ charging points may take less time to charge it up and Jaguar reckons that a quick jolt when near empty – ie 15-minutes of fast charge – will result in 50-60-miles-worth of driving. While on the road, brake regeneration also helps keep batteries topped up but, like fossil-fuelled vehicles, the harder you push, the more energy you use.

Replacing the fuel tank is a bank of 432 high energy, lithium-ion pouch cells and that adds about 300kg to the Jag’s standard weight.

With that kind of range, this makes the i-Pace a practical and cheap to run solution for many. Given that many farms now have wind or hydro power available to them, then why not put in your own charging point?

In fact, there is Government assistance to put in such and maybe a bank of charging points at the end of the farm road in busy areas is a possibility? Those who own an electric vehicle may be able to receive up to 75% (capped at £500, inc VAT) off the total capital costs of the charge point and associated installation costs.

But ... wait for it ... the other big selling point is that this Jag is exceptionally quick off the mark. It can do the EU-approved timed run of 0-62 in 4.5 seconds, which is not bad considering the additional avoirdupois. And, the engineers have taken on board those extra pounds when tweaking the chassis and suspension and so it also handles well, too, which is assisted by the fact that the weighty batteries are slung fairly low in the chassis, largely between the axles, so there is actually better road grip and very little roll.

The system which puts that prodigious power down on to the tarmac (or field) is actually ideal for an SUV. There’s one motor driving the front wheels and one driving the back and the on-board computer sorts out how to distribute the power best.

However, the one thing you will have to get used to is that this is no roaring beast. This Jag is quieter than a mouse and it is quite an eerie feeling at first to push the accelerator, get the buzz of excitement of being in a fast car, but with little or no noise.

There’s also not what you would call a ‘normal’ gearbox. A push-button affair on the central console gives you D (Drive), N (Neutral), or R (Reverse) – yes, it’s that simple after pressing the ‘Start’ button on the dash.

The cabin is exactly what you expect from Jaguar. There’s the beautifully appointed and highlight stitched leather interior filled with the very best Bridge of Weir Leather can supply, which leaves you in no doubt that you are sitting in a luxury car.

The electronic wizardry continues its theme on the dash and there is enough information there to run a Challenger battle tank, never mind a luxury SUV. For those stuck in a traffic jam, this could provide endless hours of fun with configurations, colours and just downright nosiness about the car’s potential for micro management.

There remains a presumption that Jag owners are old buffers who wear driving gloves, flat caps and smoke pipes. They are simply not in the majority any more –if, indeed, they ever were – but I’d say they would blanch at the very thought of a completely electronic dashboard, never mind the complexities of operation thereof!

After about five years, once you have mastered the intricacies of the i-Pace’s control system, you can even do things like warm up the seats before you get in the car in the morning and, conversely, Jag’s ‘HomeLink Connect’ allows you to access your house’s heating, lights, doors and probably the grain drier and calving cameras in the shed, should you need to, from the car.

In fact, the test car came with such a range of seating controls (18-way electrically operated heated and cooled leather seats) that you could spend a day getting that just right.

Another element taking this out of the old buffer zone is the fact that there are six USB sockets dotted about the cabin, plus three 12v connections. The lack of a drive train also allows for quite a lot of storage space in and around the centre console

We didn’t get a chance to go off-road in the i-Pace – in any case, many fields are harder than tarmac at the moment – but there’s every reason to suggest it will be as good as much of the competition. The standard-fit all-wheel drive system also has a Low Traction Launch control function

and All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) for rough ground.

However, progress comes at a price. The i-Pace starts at around £63,495, but the test car had an added £10k of extras (seats, fancy lighting etc), so it’s a distinct possibility that a more likely spend will be £70-£80k, which takes it dangerously into Range Rover territory.

That means if you’re looking for a towing vehicle or something that will handle some pretty tough off-road conditions, then the Jag might not be for you.

If, however, you have a windmill, then it’s an ideal second car to go with your Range Rover – and it won’t have the running costs!