Audi e-tron electric motor, drive & performance
The Audi e-tron is comfortable and smooth, but far from the last word in sportiness
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The Audi e-tron delivers a familiar electric-car combination of rapid acceleration but dulled handling: it weighs some two-and-a-half tonnes, plenty more than petrol or diesel-engined alternatives. It's extremely quiet and comfortable on the move (another electric-car hallmark), making it ideally suited to family motoring – although it's worth pointing out that the Mercedes EQC is even quieter and more comfortable still, something we loved when living with the EQC.
Our driving impressions are from our time behind the wheel of the more powerful e-tron 55. For those happy to sacrifice some performance and range in the name of reduced costs, the 50 model should still impress thanks to its 308bhp output and 6.8-second 0-62mph time.
For the ultimate in electric Audi SUV performance, the e-tron S is worth looking out for. The go-faster model gets 496bhp, three motors, a new torque-vectoring system and a more rear-biased version of the standard car's quattro four-wheel-drive system, making two-and-a-half-tonne behemoth capable of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and knock-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration whenever you put your foot down while on the go.
Audi e-tron electric motor, 0-62mph & acceleration
Regardless of which of which model you pick, the Audi e-tron isn't quite as fast as the legendarily rapid Tesla Model X, but it's certainly no slouch in the grand scheme of things. With a maximum of 402bhp in the e-tron 55's 'boost' mode, getting from 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds, with the top speed limited to just under 125mph.
The 50 model isn't meaningfully slower, but the e-tron S is considerably quicker – 0-62mph takes just 4.5 seconds, while top speed is 130mph. That's well down on the 155mph limit we've become accustomed to on powerful petrol or diesel SUVs, but it's in place mainly to ensure the e-tron preserves a useable range.
Plentiful torque from the electric motors means the e-tron is very quick in everyday, real-world driving, too, merging onto motorways, accelerating away from the lights and completing safe overtakes on main roads with ease. It's a fast car by any standard, but it's also the slowest of all of its rivals. Once on the motorway, the e-tron is remarkably quiet and composed: there's very little wind or tyre noise, and electric motor whine isn't noticeable at all.
The Audi is the most lead-footed of the posh electric SUVs. The quattro four-wheel-drive system at least ensures it feels planted in wet or slippery conditions, while the standard air suspension ensures a very smooth ride. However, both the Model X and EQC are faster and a bit more responsive and engaging on a decent road, while the Jaguar I-Pace is on another level if you want an electric car that's genuinely fun and playful to drive. Even the sportier e-tron S features the same precise but uncommunicative steering, and you do feel the weight of the car when cornering.
In This Review
- 1VerdictAudi's first production electric car is impressive, but also outclassed by rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Audi e-tron gets impressive rapid-charging capability, but we'd expect better real-world range given the large battery
- 3Running costsThe usual electric-car advantages apply here, but there's no getting around the fact the Audi e-tron is expensive to buy initially
- 4Electric motor, drive & performance - currently readingThe Audi e-tron is comfortable and smooth, but far from the last word in sportiness
- 5Interior & comfortThe Audi e-tron has a fantastic interior and features some showstopping technology
- 6Practicality & boot spaceSeven seats aren't an option, but in other respects the Audi e-tron is practical and family-friendly
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Audi e-tron fares well in both of these areas, with loads of advanced driver aids and a five-star Euro NCAP score