The Audi e-tron is almost everything you would want from an upmarket electric SUV
- Feels very solid to drive.
- Spacious interior for passengers and luggage.
- Peak rapid charging rates of 120 to 150kW.
- Looks good without being too outlandish.
- Build quality is very good.
- Take those range figures with a pinch of salt.
- It’s not especially exciting to drive.
- Dual touchscreen displays are fingerprint magnets.
- Get expensive when adding options.
- Fancy mirror cameras aren’t great to use.
Audi e-tron Introduction
The Audi e-tron was the first fully electric model from the German brand and hit the ground running with its mix of stylish looks and high-quality interior finish with a large battery and refined driving style. It comes with the choice of two battery sizes and three specification grades.
Audi e-tron Design and Specs
The Audi e-tron is a mid-size SUV, slotting in between the Q5 and Q7 and boasts generous levels of interior space. The exterior design fits in with the rest of Audi’s lineup and is more conventional looking electric SUVs than rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace. One of the convenient features of the Audi e-tron is that it has two charge ports, one on each front wing, and an electrically operated cover reveals these.
There are three specification grades: Advance, Sport and S line. As standard, the Advance model includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights contrasting lower bumper sections, an electrically operated tailgate and leather upholstery with electrically adjustable front seats.
The mid-level Sport gains 20-inch alloy wheels, front sport seats with Valcona leather, higher-quality interior buttons and Audi’s Music Interface and phone box light. It’s worth remembering that adding larger wheels does make a small dent in the overall range and efficiency.
If you prefer your car to have a bit of flash to it, then go for the range-topping S line version. It stands out that bit more thanks to the S line body kit and badging, 21-inch alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators, a Sport leather steering wheel, brushed aluminium dashboard inlays and adaptive sport air suspension.
For gadget lovers, Audi offers the option of upgrading the door mirrors to cameras. These display the ‘side mirror’ view on screens integrated into the doors. It’s a nifty feature bound to become more common in time, but it isn’t well-executed in this instance. The display screens are set too low down, making them tricky to see at a glance. The only little nugget is that adding these to the Audi can add up to 5 kilometres more range as they improve the e-tron’s aerodynamics.
Audi e-tron Interior Space
Sitting inside the e-tron is the same as the other models at the upper end of the Audi range. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display offers various views, while the centre console features a 10.1-inch touchscreen display and a smaller 8.6-inch touchscreen for internal climate functions and other input.
It can easily seat five adults and offers up to 605 litres of boot space, increasing to 1,755 litres with the rear seats folded forward and an additional capacity of 60 litres under the bonnet that’s handy for storing charging cables. However, it’s a bit more annoying to access this space as you have to reach into the footwell and pull the bonnet release handle.
Audi e-tron Drive
The most impressive aspect of driving the Audi e-tron is the refinement that it delivers. There is little in the way of road noise and the all-wheel-drive electric powertrain operates smoothly and quietly. Thanks to its air suspension, even riding on larger wheels, the e-tron is exceptionally smooth and comfortable. Where it may leave some owners wanting is the excitement levels behind the wheel. It’s not the most thrilling drive and isn’t especially fast either due to its bulk and that you only get that maximum power output in specific modes.
The e-tron 50 quattro has an output of 313hp (230kW), whereas the larger capacity 55 quattro gets a maximum output of 408hp, though that higher output is only available when the car is in its sportiest setting. Regardless, it remains quick enough for most everyday scenarios. With two electric motors, each powering an axle, the Audi has excellent road holding and grip even when conditions are less than favourable. Strong energy recovery maximises battery range during urban driving, and more efficient drive modes allow the car to coast along on open stretches.
Audi e-tron Battery and Range
There two battery sizes with the Audi e-tron. The first is a 71kWh lithium-ion battery that Audi badges as the 50 quattro. It has a WLTP driving range of up to 347 kilometres. If you need to go further between charges, there is also the 55 quattro. This version uses a 95kWh battery to provide a WLTP driving range of up to 452 kilometres. In our experience, the e-tron doesn’t deliver those range figures in most average driving, especially in the winter months. So if you’ve done your homework and your average driving in between charges is close to these figures, you may want to look elsewhere.
Conveniently, the Audi e-tron has a charge port on either side of the car, hidden behind an electrically operated cover on the front wing. With the 50 quattro model, its 11kW AC charger can refill the battery to 80 per cent charge in around 7 hours, and with a 7kW domestic wallbox in approximately 10.5 hours. A DC rapid charger on the other side operates at up to 120kW and will top up the battery to 80 per cent in 50 minutes.
For the 55 quattro, with its larger battery, a more powerful DC charger can operate at up to 150kW and takes the same 50 minutes to bring to 80 per cent with the appropriate charger. It also gets an 11kW AC charger that will take around 9 hours to perform a similar charge and 14 hours with a 7kW home wallbox.
Audi e-tron Summary
The Audi e-tron packages the expected quality and refinement with an impressive chassis that delivers a very polished driving experience. A choice of two battery sizes, decent driving range and charging options make it one of the standout premium electric SUVs.