Looking to set a tentative foot into the future? This is the safest stepping stone yet
What is that?
It is a very traditional Audi. This is perhaps the first thing to note about the e-tron. This is an electric vehicle that doesn’t seek to blur lines or act drastically, but it simply persuades regular SUV buyers to take the plunge. Audi talks about “clarity of concept”.
The Tesla Model X intentionally looks different, and the Jaguar I-Pace is part of an SUV, sedan, crossovers and coupe, both designed this way to make an impact and try to attract buyers from all over the world. They both need to grow. But Audi, which supports huge sales, has created a car that people will know and understand.
Although similar in size, the Q7 barely looks under the e-tron. That’s nothing new, but the MLB Evo platform has been greatly adapted to support both the e-tron Sportback and the future e-tron Sportback. There is an electric motor on each axle, and the rear is slightly stronger than the front for all-wheel drive if required.
Other electrical platforms are in the pipeline at Audi. The future e-tron GT is based on the Taycan Porsche, while Audi and Porsche will later work on an all-new electric platform called PPE. This will form the basis for the larger cars of the Volkswagen Group (possibly including Bentley) while the Volkswagen MEB platform will appear for its ID models.
Just talk to the industry. The e-tron is available in a number of flavors. The e-tron 55 (402 hp, up to 252 miles range) came in first. There is now a cheaper e-tron 50 with less horsepower and a smaller battery (309 hp, up to 195 miles of range), as well as an e-tron S with three engines (496 hp, 223 miles autonomy).
The e-tron seats five (no option for seven) and it has a large 605-liter boot. The main equipment includes adaptive air suspension, LED headlights, 360-degree cameras, keyless entry and charging points on both sides of the vehicle. Side cameras rather than mirrors are an option – although both Honda e and Lexus ES offer mirrors, the e-tron came first.
How is it on the road?
The bigger the electric cars, the easier it is to drive. So there are no odd driving modes in Audi, and nothing we don’t know about regular internal combustion models. The most intricate thing about the e-tron is the new transmission, which rotates under its center casing, and swings in a small arc to return to gear or forward in the opposite direction. You use it with your thumb and get used to it in seconds.
And the rest of the e-tron. It’s a car, quieter and smoother. There are selectable driving modes ranging from off-road to efficient to dynamic, and the only indicators are as follows: In Active Battery Saving mode, throttle response when exiting intersections is too much. Slow, which puts you at risk as you approach traffic, in dynamics the ride is perhaps more energetic than you’d like, and the off-road air suspension increases by 35mm for beneficial additional clearance.
But you leave it as auto setting 90% of the time, perhaps using one of the other buttons via the center console buttons if you’re in a field / on a B road / feeling worthy.
Since the e-tron rests on a suitable platform, it is a heavy vehicle. so heavy. 50 weight 2370 kg and 55 A is a whopping 2490 kg. That’s 300 kg more than the I-Pace and 150 kg more on the MASSIVE Tesla Model X.
The I-Pace is more fun to drive, and the X is faster. Not that the e-tron is heavy. Even without the smart 48-volt electronics that support the Audi SQ7 and Bentley Bentayga, it doesn’t roll too much or lift into corners. Advantages of a low center of gravity. He controls his weight well, holds on and changes direction with more tenacity than expected. More powerful than most classic SUVs. The rear engine is more powerful, the torque is distributed around 40:60.
The ride is smooth, supported by not too low tires – 255/50 R20. 22 are available and look great, but a bunch of versatility. The e-tron 55 “Vorsprung”, with 22, claims a range 19 miles below the e-tron 55 “Sport” out of 20.
Electric motors are sharp enough to hide the weight. The 50 and 55 are awake off-line and have reasonable acceleration, even at highway speeds. But it is not fast. Not according to electrical standards. Audi claims 0 to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds for 55 and 6.8 seconds for 50.
Top speed is limited to 124 mph at 55.18 mph at 50. We asked Germans obsessed with highways if this was a problem. Not when they realized how fast the top speed would seem to shorten range. They added that switching to electricity could take the conversation away from higher speeds. interesting.
So the e-tron has a good comfortable grip, and the controls (except for operation in Active Mode) are calibrated very well, so the input matches the response. But it is not a means of communication. Nothing with the handlebar, nothing with the brakes, except for the realization that such a weight requires an ounce or two of pedal pressure when it stops.
Less than 0.3 grams of delay (which is more than you think) braking is electrically done by the motors, and the recovered energy is re-pumped into the battery. Only after this point the hydraulic disks are triggered. You never notice the opponent.
The paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to increase recovery by three levels, but automatic mode is activated and the system is smart enough to see cars ahead, or know that a roundabout is approaching, and slowly begins to slow down for you. It works but feels a little weird in practice – we’ve kept it in manual mode, that way you know exactly how much the car lags when you release the throttle.
Refinement is weird. Especially if you choose the cameras’ exterior rearview mirrors, which reduce the overall width by 150mm and eliminate wind noise almost completely. I noticed the base of the windshield and pillars A and B, but not for long.
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
Imagine the Q7, then take cabin design to a more futuristic level with some degree of practicality. The box has a very high loading threshold and inclined D-shafts are cut into space. You will need a sport dog to achieve this and he will need to monitor elevation once he’s loaded.
There is also a frown. It’s a shallow place, but a good place to load cables so it doesn’t cause a mess in your regular trunk. Meanwhile, the rear center seat occupant (only five seats, remember) has little legroom. The floor may be flat, but the center console that passes between the front seats protrudes far enough backward to affect the neglected reed. Adjacent seats … good. Not generous by class standards, just acceptable.
There are up to five screens on the front. Standard two in the center console and one for the virtual instrument cluster. An Audi cockpit is standard. The two doors on each side are not. These are the side view camera screens. It’s not perfect – in fact, Honda’s smaller mirrors are much better. Consider how much you move your head to change the angle of view when you join a highway. You cannot do that here. Get used to the placement of the screens (they can be higher ideally), you can adjust the brightness and viewing angle and recognize that they are cutting the aerodynamic clouds and you no longer have to look around the huge mirrors, but the viewing angle is narrow, and they struggle in the strong sunlight. Don’t define them.
The driving location is excellent, the seating is comfortable and the quality is impeccable. It’s an Audi, that’s what they do. You will spend a lot of time interacting with the screens. The menu system makes sense, in no time the e-tron bombards you with graphs, tables, and electrical data. It’s very difficult to find, in fact, and those who want to overcome these will be disappointed. Lacks detail.
Operating costs and reliability
£ 60,650 is a competitive starting price for a full-size electric SUV. The e-tron is more practical than the I-Pace, is reassuringly more popular than the X, and looks more exciting than the Q7 on the inside and out. It’s not drastic enough to attract early users (compare the camera mirrors here to Tesla’s wingtip doors – not many dazzling factors in comparison), but the conversation about electric cars has evolved from there. right Now.
You can spend more on your e-tron. Going from 50 and 71kWh to 55 and 95kWh the battery costs around £ 11,000. Do you deserve it? Not for a slightly better 0-62 mph time and a higher top speed. But for a few extra kilometers of autonomy? Only you can respond to it. £ 11,000 is a large sum of money, and how often do you drive more than 200 miles a day?
Technik is the base model, and it has pretty much everything you need: LED headlights, air suspension, a large infotainment system, and plenty of active safety systems. Next comes Sport (wireless phone charging, better wheels), S-Line (fancy headlights, better suspension, more leather), Black Edition (S-Line, but with black trim) and Vorsprung (all sing and dance).
Operating costs – at least when it comes to fuel – should improve internal combustion. Small but useful point – the e-tron has load points on the front fenders on both sides. They accept loads of up to 150 kW for 55 and 120 kW for 50 (a Tesla compressor operates at 250 kW). Find a suitable general charger, and in the best case, you will get an 80% charge in about 30 minutes.
However, you are more likely to charge at home. Take advantage of Audi’s offer to add a 7 kW charging box to purchase the e-tron. You really don’t want any of these to be charged with a 3-pin plug. It might take actual days, while a 7kW box will provide a full charge overnight.
Readers’ hints suggest that you should expect a little over 200 miles between 55 loads and about 160 miles from 50. Okay, but maybe not good enough for a family vacation. Imagine the scene in the car at a gas station if charging stations are busy / defective.
The natural competitor is Merc’s EQC. Click here to see how the e-tron compares to the Merc, as well as the Jaguar I-Pace. BMW’s next step forward from the i3 and i8, the iNext is further (2021, although the electric X3 has just landed) and appears smarter and more radical. But intelligence and radicalism do not find favor with the mainstream audience.
Final thoughts and pick of the range
A very conventional Audi, built to persuade regular SUV buyers to make the EV jump
It is an easy-to-understand vehicle, very well executed, well designed and reassuringly developed. In other words, Audi. It would be nice if it was lighter and crossed between loads and we weren’t convinced yet of the benefits of the side camera mirrors, but if you’re looking to put a makeshift base in the future, these aren’t the safest ones. Stone again.