The Audi e-tron is Audi's first ever all-electric plug-in hybrid. It boasts a dramatic appearance with flowing contours, optional virtual wing mirrors, an octagonal grille and special e-tron details such as a unique light signature that ensures it really stands apart from the rest.
With sophistication in every detail the e-tron will feel like your second home, with a spacious interior and generous legroom even the tallest of passengers can enjoy the comfort and luxury the e-tron has to offer. In the back there's space for up to three passengers, or you can fold the seats down and increase your storage to 1,725 litres when you need the extra space.
In addition to electric power, the e-tron has an array of new advanced and intelligent features as well as optional extras for comfort and confidence with every ride.
Pre sense 360° in the e-tron works constantly to monitor your surroundings and can initiate protective safety features if necessary such as rear cross traffic assist, crossing assist and turn assist which all detect and help evade unexpected hazards you may not have noticed. Adaptive cruise assist ensures a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front whilst efficiency assist monitors the route ahead to help preserve that electrical power.
Another feature present in the e-tron is Audi Connect which can help you to plan trips further afield. Via the in-car MMI system, the MyAudi smartphone app or desktop web portal, the e-tron offers a range of Audi connect systems, including the e-tron route planner. This planner can calculate routes that show charging stations, their estimated charge times and incorporates these with traffic data to calculate your arrival time. With this easily-planned charging schedule, the e-tron is as suitable for longer trips as it is for everyday use.
The Audi e-tron has been designed to promote efficiency and to be an almost silent drive. This is achieved by the exceptional aerodynamics which include flowing contours to the bodywork and optional virtual wing mirrors.
Inside the e-tron you will find the most modern of interiors with an uncluttered design that accentuates the cabin's spaciousness. An unobtrusive centre console allows for a clear yet expansive dashboard and customisable Audi Virtual Cockpit and discrete touch-screens make every trip effortless. The cabin is finished with first-class materials and with almost total noise insulation, every journey can be comfy and luxurious for up to 5 passengers.
Unlike a petrol or diesel powered vehicle, the acceleration response in the e-tron is almost instant, providing a truly rocket-like sensation at launch. Being electrically powered, none of the performance is sacrificed in the e-tron. An electric motor at the front and one at the rear jointly produce 300kW of power, propelling this full-sized SUV from 0-62mph in less than 6 seconds. On a full charge the e-tron has a range of 248 miles* under stringent test conditions.
How do you charge the e-tron? Well there a number of ways; at home via a domestic socket or, for a reduced charging time, with a specially fitted wallbox. If out on the road, via a high-power charging stations. Where available, the e-tron can b replenished at 150kW terminals that can recharge the battery to 80% within 30 minutes and 100% with 50 minutes.
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On the e-tron virtual wing mirrors replace the traditional glass mirrors with cameras that stream a view of what's behind, onto displays mounted within the front doors. Drag is reduced as these mirrors are far narrower than standard mirrors and they also help to reduce the wind noise. You still have control of the view with these mirrors as they are fully adjustable. The focus can be zoomed in on and moved depending on driving conditions and the result is better all-round visibility and enhanced safety for car and passengers.
Audi has looked at a flourishing SUV market in a world that is taking electric vehicles seriously for the first time and made a very sensible decision to launch the e-tron. It’s the first of three new all-electric cars on their way by 2020, all of which will wear the e-tron name but with GT and Q4 added for those coming later this year.
This is the first time that Audi has sold a completely electric model. However, you shouldn’t feel bad if it didn’t jump out as anything other than another Audi SUV. While there are some subtle updates to the overall image, it does look very similar to other models in the Q range – and we don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
This is all powered by two electric motors, paired with Audi’s electric all-wheel-drive system. The e-tron 55 quattro uses Audi’s new and confusing naming system that brings electric, petrol and diesel powertrains under the same umbrella.
In this case, it means its electric motors produce 265kW of power – or 355bhp in old money – which will take the car to 60mph in 5.7 seconds. That’s not going to feel like the fastest Teslas on the market, but for a mid-sized SUV it’s still pretty quick off the mark.
The e-tron is also capable of charging to 80 per cent in 30 minutes from a fast charger and its maximum capacity can last for up to 259 miles.
If I were to hand the keys for the e-tron to my mum, I’m not sure she’d notice it was an electric car. OK, she might detect the slight whirring noise that you wouldn’t get from anything other than an EV, but this could be the most convincing electric vehicle masquerading as a conventional car around.
Maybe this has more to say about the refinement of Audi’s standard engines, or it’s possible that the e-tron has arrived at the perfect time when driving an electric car really is, well, normal. Power delivery is great, the ride is smooth – even at high motorway speeds – and the steering feels responsive.
We knew exactly how far we would be driving on our test drive – around 20 miles within the initial range given – but my driving style didn’t change, I wasn’t worried about running out of charge, and we safely arrived back with more charge than expected.
The e-tron has been given some styling additions that both update the car’s look compared with others in the Audi range and improve efficiency. From the front, it shares a similarly striking look to the latest Q8 model. However, has this moved on far enough from the existing range of SUVs? Take out of the equation that this is an EV therefore most buyers expect some futuristic technology, and it just doesn’t feel as special as it should when older Q-model SUVs drive by with a very similar design.
In fairness to the e-tron, if you opted for the launch edition you’ll get the very special wing mirror cameras – or you can opt to replace your standard mirrors with these pod-like cameras. This displays what’s behind you on small OLED screens in the doors. To use them at first is a little jarring but slowly your brain adjusts to what you’re seeing. Apart from this, high-quality and durable interior materials are used and you get the latest Audi dual-screen infotainment system with haptic controls.
The price of the e-tron does start a little high at £70,805. You could buy a Q8 for £10,000 less or an entry-level Jaguar I-Pace comes in a little cheaper. However, the e-tron is packed with some great standard equipment and arguably better space than either of those models. At entry level, the e-tron gets 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, air suspension, keyless entry, leather seats and parking cameras.
The Audi e-tron has completely wowed simply because it is so normal. For years, we’ve been testing electric cars with spaceship-like qualities, but Audi has taken the features of its fantastic SUV range and seamlessly added all-electric power. Paired with its impressive range and high-quality specifications, it’ll surely be convincing more people to make the switch to electric driving.
Model as tested: Audi e-tron 55 quattro
Price as tested: £74,895
Engine: Twin all-electric motors
Max speed: 124mph
0-60mph: 5.7 seconds
Range: Up to 259 miles