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

3.5 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 50180 miles10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)26mins (10-80%, 125kW)
e-tron 55249 miles13hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)38mins (10-80%, 155kW)
e-tron S232 miles13hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)27mins (10-80% 140kW)

This is Audi's first-ever production electric car: the e-tron. It's a hugely important model for the company, heralding the arrival of a range of e-tron-badged electric Audi saloons and SUVs in the coming years. So how does it stack up as a first effort? The answer is: well enough, if not good enough to be class-leading. As a rival for standard-setting electric SUVs like the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC, the e-tron needed to impress – and it does.

The car boasts 150kW charging capability, but an official range of nearly 250 miles (for the mid-range 55 version) should negate the need for regular public charging for most drivers. For those who don't need as much range and are keen to save on purchase costs, the e-tron 50 uses a smaller 71kWh battery, produces less power, has a lower price tag and has an official range of 180 miles.

Of course, as the words 'luxury' and 'SUV' suggest, this isn't a cheap car. But as with all electric cars, ongoing running costs will be low, and for your money you're getting a large, practical, family-friendly SUV that's bristling with cutting-edge tech.

The standard e-tron is available in six trim levels: Technik, Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung, each with either the e-tron 50 or e-tron 55 drivetrain. All cars get LED headlights, a virtual cockpit display, dual-zone climate control and leather seats. There's also the performance-orientated e-tron S, which has its own 496bhp drivetrain, sportier four-wheel-drive system and wide-bodied styling.

Inside, both the e-tron and e-tron S feature two touchscreens in the middle of the dashboard with a third digital display behind the steering wheel. The e-tron uses Audi's Virtual Cockpit system, which includes a clever sat nav that can divert to charging points should a battery top-up be required. Meanwhile, boot space is commendable: 660 litres with the seats up, with a further 60 litres in a compartment in the front of the vehicle accommodating the e-tron's 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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