Big, bold and brash – there is nothing subtle about Audi’s flagship electric car. The e-tron is a five seat EV designed to impress and so it should. The intercity capable electric powered commuter has kerb appeal and is, on first glance, very similar to Audi’s Q8 flagship SUV from €98,550. The main difference being what lies underneath.
The e-tron is built to swim among high end premium EVs where status and image projection are high on the buying agenda. So watch your backs Tesla Model X, Mercedes-Benz EQC and Jaguar I-Pace as Audi means business. Size-wise e-tron is bigger than a Q5 and at 4901mm long, 1935mm wide and 1629 tall it is more compact than the very handsome Q8 (4986mm/1995mm/1705mm). The e-tron is considerably smaller however than the seven seat Q7 at 5052mm long, 1968mm wide and 1740mm tall (that in turn looks compact next to a Tesla Model X at 5037mm long 2070mm wide).
The e-tron is a low set SUV with a strong stance on the road. The prominent grille helps identify it from the photocopier ‘Q’ range but you will still confuse it and a Q8 every now and again. The five seat EV is big inside and there is a massive 660 litre boot (electronic opening and closing of course) that is big enough for lots of golf sticks and such like. You lose some capacity under the boot floor to a space saver spare wheel but it is reassuring to know the added mobility is there – something you don’t get with a Tesla Model X. The exterior is quite conservative and this will please the business community (and the entire German nation). Up front a water tight ‘frunk’ houses all the cables you need to charge up in any location.
The cabin features all the familiar switchgear and new generation Audi digital dash layout we know from the A7 & A8. The gear selector is quite cool and unique to the e-tron. The cabin is comfortable without being truly luxurious while at speed it is surprisingly noisy for an EV – the big 20 inch alloys didn’t help.
Audi e-tron’s virtual mirrors party trick got great initial press when the car was launched. In practice they are perhaps best left un-ticked on the options list. The way the OLED viewing screens are configured and positioned on the inside below the base of the A pillar is less than ideal and you’re better off just looking at a conventional mirror – for now, they’ll get it right soon no doubt. Rear space is great and you even get high tech touch heater controls back there.
The e-tron is quite firm and rides on adaptive air suspension. The ride is neither sporty or super comfortable but premium none the less. The car corners quite flatly and eats up the kilometres with ease. The e-tron uses two motors to deliver Quattro all wheel drive. It is a brisk but not outrageously fast machine with a top speed of 200km/h. 0-100km/h takes a swift 6.6 seconds but it doesn’t feel fast for a member of the current crop of big EVs. The e-tron’s two electric motors delivering 350hp combined power output. A healthy 664nm helps haul the weighty machine along.
The press of a subtle button on either of e-tron’s flanks reveals a CCS combo fast charger on one side and regular Type 2 charger on the other flank. As the car weighs more than a conventional ‘engined’ car electricity consumption is quite high using 24-26kWh per 100 kilometres. There is little range anxiety thanks to a big battery pack that can deliver shy of 391km (WLTP) depending on conditions. The rechargeable battery pack has a 95kWh capacity that can be charged at rates up to 150kW at an ultra fast charger like at an Ionity. 30 minutes will bring a circa 80% charge.