The Audi E-Tron – Audi’s First All-Electric Car
The Audi E-Tron is Audi's first all-electric production car. Audi has chosen to showcase its technological advancements, in the electric car field, in a brand new SUV.
Audi has built the E-Tron using their current MLB Evo platform, found on other models, such as the Q7. Audi has modified the platform to support the all-electric e-Tron and also future models, such as the E-Tron Sportback, due to be available in 2020. There are two electric motors, one sitting on each axle. The 95kWh battery pack, all 700kgs, is placed in between the two electric motors connected to the chassis.
The E-Tron is styled and looks like a traditional Audi SUV, not some futuristic over the top 'movie' car. Everything feels familiar and friendly, and this can only be a plus when convincing everyday SUV owners to change to the new all-electric option.
There are two models available with the only difference being more standard equipment on the more expensive version. The performance stays the same. The choice is the Audi E-Tron 300kw 55 Quattro 95kwh or the Audi E-Tron 300kw 55 Quattro 95kwh Launch Edition with prices starting at £70,845 and £81,595 respectively. As from the name 'Quattro', the E-Tron comes with Audi's legendary AWD system which helps with handling and performance.
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Engine, Suspension and Handling
The battery pack can be charged from 0-80% in 45mins using 120kw chargers found at motorway service stations. This will reduce to 30mins once the next generation 150kw charging stations are available. If you plug in at home, this will take around 8 hours using an 11kw wall box. Audi offers an optional 22kw fast charger, which will reduce to about 4 hours. Once charged the E-Tron has a range of 237miles, which should be good enough for most journeys, although it does not beat the I-Pace which is capable of 292miles.
The two electric motors work together to produce a maximum 402hp, capable of 0-62mph in 5.7secs and a top speed of 124mph. Not as quick as the Jaguar or Tesla, but no slouch either, for a car that weighs 2490kgs, over 300kgs more than the Jaguar I-Pace. The other downside is that you only get the maximum 402hp when you select Sport Mode, and even then you will only get a short 8-second boost. For the rest of the time, the E-Tron runs off 355hp from the two electric motors.
Audi has fitted adaptive air suspension with controlled dampers as standard in the E-Tron to improve comfort, ride and handling. The Audi Drive Select system also comes as standard with a selection of driving modes from auto, comfort, dynamic, efficiency individual, allroad and offroad. The springs adjust individually to the road conditions, taking into account the speed and driver set-up, and can vary the ride height by up to 76mm. In 'offroad' mode the ride height is raised to give 35mm higher ground clearance. Activating the 'Lift' function will increase the body a further 15mm.
The Audi feels stable, and there's little body roll when entering corners, even twisty ones. The steering is light in 'comfort' mode but gets progressively heavier and more responsive when you select the sportier mode settings.
Interior Space and Technology
The Audi E-Tron is the first production Audi to have the option of all-new Virtual Door Mirrors. They replace the traditional glass door mirrors with small cameras which stream the view onto small screens mounted to the front doors. These help with the aerodynamics and also reduce wind noise in the cabin. The Launch Edition comes with the Virtual Door Mirrors as standard.
The interior is very much of the Q7 ilk, just a little more futuristic. Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' has been cleverly adapted and integrated into the E-Tron. A digital display is standard, showing a wide variety of selected information.
The E-Tron comes with Audi's dual-screen infotainment system (MMI) with Audi Connect. There is an 8.6-inch screen and a 10.1-inch screen, the larger of the two sitting above. The bigger screen is used to access sat-nav, radio, smartphone and various other vehicle settings. Each version of the electric Audi come with Bluetooth, wireless mobile phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Audi's MMI Navigation + and a three-year free subscription to Audi Connect.
The whole dashboard layout, although very familiar, is also high-tech and gives the 'wow' factor when you first climb inside. The finishing is top quality with various luxury trims and fitting throughout with the premium build quality we have come to expect from Audi.
Space in the front of the E-Tron is very generous, and there will be no issues for driver or passenger catching or nudging each other. In the rear, there is the right amount of space due to Audi making the E-Tron a 5-seater car only, no option as yet for seven seats. Headroom is better in the rear than in the I-Pace due to its curved roof-line.
The boot is of adequate size at 605-litres but not quite as good as the Jaguar I-Pace which comes in at 656-litres. However, under the bonnet where the engine would be, there are an additional 60-litres of space compared with the 27-litres found in the Jaguar.
Safety Equipment and Extras
The Audi E-Tron scored an impressive 5-star rating from the recent Euro NCAP tests. Both versions come with an array of safety features as standard. Some of these include automatic emergency braking (pedestrian, cyclist, city and inter-urban), speed assist and lane assist. All of which have helped to achieve an outstanding safety rating. There are optional safety packages and upgrades available, some of which come as standard on the Launch Edition.
Although the Launch Edition is over £10,000 more than the standard version, if you can afford it, it's worth paying for all the extra features. Extra equipment includes upgraded leather interior, black exterior styling pack and gorgeous 21-inch wheels. If not, there is a choice of options to tailor-make your E-Tron to suit your needs.
The Audi E-Tron, Audi's first production electric car does not disappoint. It sticks to being an SUV and doesn't confuse prospective buyers with overworked gadgets and gizmos. Yes, it lacks the performance and sportiness of the Jaguar I-Pace, its only real rival at this time. The Audi, however, is more luxurious, classy and refined inside and over a higher level of equipment and technology.
Will this tempt traditional diesel SUV owners to swap for electric? It most definitely could, as this is just the first step into an exciting future of all-electric cars and its a cracker.