Like most manufacturers, Audi is heading towards an all-electric future with its new fleet of e-tron-labelled vehicles.
To be joined by the GT and Q4 models already in the pipeline, the German firm is debuting its new EV range with the e-tron SUV, which goes up against the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC and Tesla Model X.
There are certain aspects of the vehicle that are unique, such as the all-new electric powertrain and certain design tweaks, but it’s safe to say that the e-tron looks rather similar to most of the brand’s Q SUV line-up.
We tested out the e-tron to see whether it can live up to the standards of some of the industry’s other electric SUVs.
Under the bonnet of the e-tron is the 55 quattro setup – which uses two electric motors and employs the firm’s strange naming system that standardises the power output of all petrol, diesel and electric models. Here, Audi teams a 95 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack with the motors – one mounted on each axle – that together develop 355bhp and 561Nm of torque. Although in boost mode, that output is upped to 402bhp and 664Nm.
The sole powertrain currently available to the SUV will get the model from 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds, before topping out at a limited top speed of 124mph. Audi claims the maximum range of the e-tron is 259 miles and that to charge from flat to 80 per cent can take just 30 minutes if connected to a fast chargerSee Available Audi deals
Ride & Handling
Audi has made the e-tron feel as conventional as possible, so it almost feels as though you’re behind the wheel of a conventional car. Whether that’s down to the refinement of Audi’s other vehicles is up for questioning, but the German firm has done a great job with this one.
With the instantaneous power delivery that you expect from an electric vehicle, the e-tron is great at getting up to speed either from a standing start or on a motorway. Audi has also ensured that the SUV feels comfortable at all speeds thanks to a well-balanced chassis and responsive steering. But where many drivers will need to be convinced on current SUVs is on range – but more often than not, the e-tron was able to stay remarkably close to its claimed range after a long drive and arrived at the end of the route with more than enough charge.
Interior & Equipment
Inside the e-tron is as you would expect from an Audi – clean, well-appointed and with everything where you would expect it to be. If chosen, the two central infotainment and digital instrument displays are joined by two additional screens to show the feeds from the cameras mounted on the side instead of wing mirrors and are mounted at far ends of the dashboard. With the lack of a transmission tunnel, space for passengers is excellent, and with the batteries built into the chassis, storage space isn’t compromised. The 660-litre boot space is on par with other SUVs of this size, while folding the rear seats down will allow for 1,725 litres of space.
In terms of standard equipment, the e-tron comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, Audi Drive Select, LED headlights, powered tailgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, four-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, two-zone climate control, dual infotainment touchscreens, the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument display, wireless charging and multiple safety systems.
Prices for the e-tron start from £71,520, which is reduced further thanks to the government’s £3,500 plug-in grant – while the limited-run Launch Edition models start from £82,270, which features the top-spec equipment, such as the wing-mounted cameras.
The lack of needing to put fuel in will help customers justify the high initial cost and as an electric vehicle, it doesn’t release any harmful emissions.
The amazing thing about the e-tron is that it’s so normal, which is a surprisingly strange thing to be happy about. Most other EVs try to stand out and be remarkably different in every way. But Audi has ensured that the e-tron feels as like its regular Q SUVs as possible, so the transition for drivers won’t be as difficult. The range of this vehicle is off the pace of rivals such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X, but the Audi is well-behaved on the road, comes with plenty of kit and is as practical as conventional models of this size. The German marque has done an excellent job here.