New ‘entry-level’ Audi e-tron 50 quattro for 2020

Cheaper version of Audi e-tron electric SUV with smaller battery set to arrive in the UK early next year

A new, ‘entry-level’ version of the Audi e-tron electric SUV will go on sale early in 2020, the German manufacturer has announced.

The Audi e-tron 50 quattro will feature a smaller 71kWh battery with a range of 186 miles, down on the 248 miles achieved by the existing 95kWh version of the SUV.

A pair of electric motors combine to produce 308bhp and deliver all-wheel drive, although Audi says only the rear motor will be active most of the time in order to boost efficiency.

The e-tron 50 quattro will be slightly slower than the existing model over the 0-62mph sprint, completing it in seven seconds on its way to a top speed of 118mph.

The maximum charging speed is also lower than that of the standard, Launch Edition and Edition 1 variants of the e-tron, with a top rate of 120kW allowing a 0-80% charge in 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Audi is promising an ‘optional connect charging system’, which will be available on the e-tron later this year. It'll facilitate smart charging capability, allowing drivers to schedule charging sessions overnight to benefit from cheaper electricity tariffs.

Charging can be programmed with the myAudi app, with the ability to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior ahead of a journey also included.

Prices for the e-tron 50 quattro will be confirmed at a later date, however it should significantly undercut the current starting price of £68,020; a figure which includes the government’s £3,500 plug-in car discount.

Back in June, it was revealed that the e-tron was facing a recall in the UK, just months after it went on sale.

A potential fire risk was identified by the company, although it stressed that no cases of fire had been reported.

“Audi UK is aware of an issue involving a component within the charging system on a small number of Audi e-trons that have been delivered to customers,” the company said in a statement at the time.

“We are currently in the process of contacting these owners to recall their vehicle and rectify the issue.”

The recall also extended to other markets across the globe, including continental Europe and the US.

Orders for the Audi e-tron SUV opened in the UK earlier this year, with the German brand hoping to tempt customers away from the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.

Audi e-tron price, Launch Edition and Edition 1

There are three versions of the e-tron at present – a standard model, a Launch Edition and an ultra-exclusive Edition 1, of which only 30 will come to the UK. All of the Edition 1s have now been reserved.

The standard e-tron costs from £71,490, while the Launch Edition – which adds a plethora of kit including 'virtual' door mirrors, 21-inch alloys, Matrix LED headlights and black styling pack – costs £82,240.

Other Launch Edition features include electric steering wheel adjustment, adaptive cruise assist, traffic-sign recognition and a 360-degree camera. All e-trons are eligible for the government's plug-in car grant, which slashes £3,500 off the list price.

The sold-out Edition 1 builds on the Launch Edition's kit list with a panoramic glass sunroof, four-zone climate control, a Bang & Olufsen premium stereo, acoustic glazing, exclusive Antigua Blue metallic paint, orange brake calipers and 21-inch 'turbine' alloy wheels and aluminium exterior elements.

Electric drivetrain

The e-tron is powered by a pair of electric motors, with one working on each axle. That'll ensure it sticks to one Audi tradition: quattro four-wheel drive. Air suspension is standard across the range, which bodes well for ride quality.

Working together, the two motors produce a total of 402bhp. Audi says this is enough to get the two-tonne-plus e-tron to 62mph from rest in 5.7 seconds and on to a 124mph top speed.

Range and charging

The e-tron certainly isn’t confined to pottering around town. On the contrary, Audi says it has a range of almost 250 miles. Like many electric cars, the e-tron has regenerative brakes to top up the battery, and the level of recuperation can be adjusted using paddles behind the steering wheel.

On top of that, it has 'brake-by-wire' technology. This means there’s no physical connection between the brake pedal and the brakes. Instead, when you press the pedal, the car’s 'brain' works out from the way the pedal is pushed what's the best way to slow down the car: either using the motors to recuperate energy or using the brakes themselves.

Charging the e-tron is no hassle, although you’ll need access to a 150kW charger for the quickest charge time. From one of those, the e-tron will charge to 80% capacity in less than 30 minutes. In addition, you can also charge the car at home from a wallbox.

Interior and practicality

Look around the e-tron’s interior and you can see that it’s every inch the modern Audi, with several features familiar from the range-topping Audi A8 luxury saloon.

That includes having two touchscreens to control the infotainment system and climate control, while Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – which has a fully configurable digital display instead of conventional dials – is standard on every model.

The optional cameras that replace the conventional door mirrors display their information on touchscreen panels in the doors themselves. These panels can then be used to fine-tune the view, including a wider angle for use on the motorway.

The e-tron is only a five-seater, but there’s room inside for five adults. And if you include the 60-litre waterproof area under the bonnet, the total load capacity is 660 litres (more than in the Jaguar I-Pace). When you drop the rear seats, this increases to 1,725 litres – again more than the Jaguar offers.