Audi e-tron review
After years of motorshow concepts and prototypes from the brand, this is Audi's first-ever full 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 Audis in the coming years. So how does it stack up as a first effort?
The answer is: very well. As a rival for standard-setting cars like the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace, the e-tron needed to impress, and it does. The UK rapid-charging network is in its infancy, meaning you'll only be able to make limited use of the e-tron's 150kW charging capability, but in all other respects it's a very accomplished luxury electric SUV.
Of course, as the words 'luxury' and 'SUV' suggest, this isn't a cheap car, initially starting at over £68,000 in the UK. But as with all electric cars, ongoing running costs will be very low, and for your money you're getting a large, practical, family-friendly SUV that's positively bristling with cutting-edge technology.
In the entry-level version of the e-tron, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and leather-trimmed, power-adjustable seats come as standard. But go for the £82,720 Launch Edition trim and the wheels grow to 21 inches, with a 360-degree parking camera, matrix LED lights and a system that lets your pre-heat or cool the car joining the e-tron's bag of tricks.
The e-tron Launch Edition also welcomes digital mirrors, which replace the conventional wing mirrors with a pair of high-resolution cameras on either side of the car. These relay live images onto two screens inside the vehicle, although the system isn't as natural to use as the traditional set-up.
Inside, there are 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. 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 Model X.
Under the metal 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 power output of 302bhp. However, the e-tron comes with a boost function that lifts this figure to 402bhp for bursts of eight seconds, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and top speed is just shy of 125mph.
The e-tron comes with a 95kWh battery, returning a range of 248 miles under the latest WLTP test procedure.
The e-tron also boasts an Audi Drive Select system seven different driving modes. It does feel quite heavy from behind the wheel, though, with no amount of advanced 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 in particular 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 both the Model X and the I-Pace.