Audi e-tron review
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 plug-in hybrid and pure 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 £70,000 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.
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 the '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, though: electric motors on the front and rear axles, giving quattro four-wheel-drive capability, a total power output of 402bhp and a range (under new, government WLTP tests) of 248 miles. That means the 0-62mph sprint takes 5.7 seconds and top speed is just shy of 125mph. The motors are powered by a 95kWh battery pack.
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.