Jaguar calls a hot-rodded I-Pace a when, not an if

Venturing into the sports EV segment would pit the firm against Tesla

Jaguar showed the world what a high-performance I-Pace might look like when it unveiled the racing-ready eTrophy (pictured) in 2017. Though it's built exclusively for track use, the hot-rodded EV is teaching the British firm's Special Vehicles Operation (SVO) division valuable lessons about electrified performance, and those tricks will seep into a street-legal production model in the coming years.

Michael van der Sande, the head of SVO, told British magazine Autocar that a high-performance I-Pace is more of a when than an if. Jaguar has amassed decades of sports car-building experience, and it's trying to reinvent itself as a purveyor of electric cars, so combining these two images into one seems natural. We're a little bit surprised it hasn't happened yet, though van der Sande warned the project hasn't started because SVO is busy making other, higher-volume cars with fatter profit margins.

The eTrophy uses the same basic powertrain as the I-Pace, according to Autocar, but it receives a long list of chassis modifications that help it handle better than stock. The production model would receive more comprehensive changes, including a more powerful electric powertrain, but its body kit would certainly resemble the one worn by the eTrophy cars. Whether the hotter I-Pace would arrive as a limited-edition model, like the XE Project 8, or as a standard addition to the range is up in the air.

Jaguar is aware that venturing into the high-performance electric car segment would force it to lock horns with Tesla, which offers jaw-droppingly quick versions of the Model S and the Model X. The California-based firm is currently planning to attempt a lap record on Germany's Nürburgring track with a triple-motored prototype of a car coming to production in 2020, so Jaguar knows precisely who to beat if it wants to secure ultimate bragging rights in the electric car segment.

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