In-depth reviews

Audi e-tron review

Audi's first production electric car is impressive, but also outclassed by rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X

Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Very refined on the move
  • 150kW charging capability 
  • Impressively high-tech interior

Cons

  • Handling is a bit dull
  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • Disappointing real-world range
CarRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
e-tron 50176-198 miles10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)25mins (10-80%, 120kW)
e-tron 55230-254 miles13hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)26mins (10-80%, 155kW)
e-tron S213-232 miles13hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)26mins (10-80%, 155kW)

The Audi e-tron is an electric SUV that’s more subtle than most electric vehicles, managing to blend in even among conventionally powered rivals. Since it was released, a whole host of fully electric Audi saloons and SUVs have arrived, but as Audi’s first proper electric car, the e-tron turned out to be a great effort. It’s not quite a class leader, but that was always going to be a challenge with strong competition from the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC in the electric SUV segment.

The standard e-tron comes with a choice of two powertrains: the 50 and the 55. The former has a 71kWh battery capable of a decent range of up to 198 miles while the 55 has a 95kWh battery with an improved range of just over 250 miles. There’s also a high-performance variant, known as the e-tron S. Its extra performance comes at the expense of some range, as it can only manage up to 232 miles. All versions are capable of 100kW+ rapid charging, meaning that speedy top-ups are possible if you find a quick enough public charging point.

The e-tron 50 has a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and the 55 cuts this down to 5.7 seconds. Although the e-tron S has the same battery as the normal 55, it’s faster – 0-62mph takes just 4.5 seconds, which is astonishing for a large luxury SUV. And despite it being a large, luxurious SUV, the e-tron promises low running costs. It’s not cheap to buy, but it justifies its price tag with a high-quality interior and lots of cutting-edge tech inside.

There are five main trim levels: Technik, Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung. The sporty e-tron S is offered as a standalone trim or can be upgraded to Vorsprung. Standard equipment is strong across the range: even the entry-level car gets LED headlights, a virtual cockpit display, dual-zone climate control and leather seats.

The interior features two touchscreens in the middle of the dashboard with a third digital display behind the steering wheel called Virtual Cockpit. This set-up includes a clever sat nav that can divert to charging points should a battery top-up be required. But it’s not just packed with technology, as the e-tron is also a practical family car. There’s an impressive 660 litres of boot space with the seats up, and a further 60 litres in the 'front boot' for storing the charging cables.

One thing that isn't cutting-edge about the e-tron is its looks: it's not all that different from Audi's conventionally powered SUVs like the Q5 and Q7. Depending on your outlook, this is either a good or a bad thing. The wide arches and 21-inch alloys on the e-tron S do help the car stand out, but those who like to shout about their 'early adopter' status will be disappointed; those who'd rather not draw attention to themselves will be happier in the e-tron than they would in a Tesla.

Underneath, you get the very latest electric drivetrain technology: electric motors on the front and rear axles give quattro four-wheel-drive capability, with a total output of 308bhp in both the 50 and the 55. However, the e-tron 55 comes with a boost function that lifts this to 402bhp for bursts of eight seconds, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and top speed just shy of 125mph. The e-tron 50 isn't too much slower, with a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds. The S is the fastest of the bunch courtesy of its three motors and 498bhp, producing a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds, and acceleration when moving that will pin you back in your seat. 

The e-tron also boasts an Audi Drive Select system with seven different driving modes. It does feel quite heavy from behind the wheel, though, with no amount of technology able to completely disguise its bulk. But while enthusiastic drivers may be left cold, the e-tron is extremely comfortable and refined in everyday motoring, thanks to standard air suspension.

Overall, the e-tron is a compelling addition to the range of high-end electric SUVs available to UK buyers, and is worthy of serious consideration alongside the Model X, the I-Pace and the EQC. To find out more about the Audi e-tron, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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