Audi e-tron review
|Car||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|e-tron 50||186 miles||10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||1hr 4mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
|e-tron 55||271 miles||13hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||1hr 16mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
After years of motor-show 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: well enough, if not good enough to be class-leading. As a rival for standard-setting cars like the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC, 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 an official range of over 270 miles should negate the need for regular public charging for most drivers. It'll be interesting to see how the forthcoming e-tron 50 stacks up for range given its smaller 71kWh battery and official range of 186 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.
In the entry-level version of the e-tron 55, you get 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and leather-trimmed, power-adjustable seats as standard. Go for the range-topping 55 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 Launch Edition also welcomes digital mirrors, which replace conventional door mirrors with a pair of high-resolution cameras on either side of the car. These relay live images to two screens inside, 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.
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 output of 308bhp. However, the e-tron 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 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.