Audi e-tron Review
The Audi e-tron is a posh, practical, electric large SUV. It has an impressive turn of speed but not the range you’d expect from a traditional petrol or diesel SUV.
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The Audi e-tron is an electric SUV for those who want to keep their EV preference under the radar, while enjoying those traditional virtues of a spacious interior with a seriously roomy boot. So it’s a rival for the Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace.
At a glance, it appears like a petrol- or diesel-powered Audi SUV, but like every cake shop in the world, the Audi e-tron gets much more interesting once you step inside.
For a start, there’s a high-tech infotainment system with not one, not two, but three super-high-resolution screens as standard and plenty of soft-touch plastic and brushed metal-effect trims.
Sure, a few areas have slipped through Audi’s normally air-tight quality control net – such as the brittle-feeling sides of the centre console and the glovebox lid – but otherwise, the e-tron’s cabin is a sumptuous and spacious place to sit.
Things are very nearly as comfortable in the back – where you’ll find space for three adults – and the Audi e-tron’s boot capacity easily outshines the load bays you get in the Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace.
The e-tron’s interior design might resemble the cabin of X-wing Starfighter but with four spacious seats and a big boot, it’s a lot more practical
There’s also an extra storage bin under the Audi e-tron’s bonnet, but you’ll probably end up using it to store the car’s charging cable. On the subject of charging, topping up your e-tron from empty at home using a dedicated wall box takes nine hours, but find a rapid 150kw fast-charger (which are being rolled out across the UK soon) and you can boost its batteries from almost flat to 80% full in half an hour.
To give some context, charging at home will cost you around £14 to ‘fill’ your e-tron, which means a saving of around £17 versus a petrol car going the same distance. Once charged, the Audi e-tron’s range is around 250 miles. That’s less than the Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace can manage and significantly less than the range you’ll get from a conventional diesel-powered SUV.
That said, the Audi e-tron’s comfortable air suspension makes it one of the most relaxing electric SUVs to travel in for long periods – especially if you pay extra for some of the e-tron’s clever driver-assistance systems. The instant shove from its two electric motors help it sprint away from the traffic lights like a sports car on stilts, too.
It’s by no means perfect – head down a twisty country road at speed and the Audi e-tron’s comfort-focused suspension has its tall body leaning like a sapling in a strong wind – but it’s still well worth considering if you’re looking for a high-tech electric car that’s practical and relaxing to drive.
The electric Audi e-tron has a spacious interior making it a perfect family car. There’s room for four people and their stuff, although some will want for a pair of extra seats in the boot
The e-tron’s big battery means as an option you can set the car’s air-conditioning and seats to the perfect temperature before you even get into the car
The Audi e-tron has wide comfortable front seats that make it very easy to find your perfect position, even if you aren’t quite as svelte as you once were. They offer a wide range of electrical adjustment so you can tower over other road users or hunker down in the cabin for a sportier feel. You also get four-way lumbar support for a little extra support on longer journeys.
Heated front seats come as standard and, as options, you can also have them cooled and swap the manually adjustable steering wheel for one that moves electrically – it also glides out of the way when you get in and out of the car.
Your passengers in the back do without the gadgets – they can’t even recline their seats or slide them backward and forwards like in other SUVs – but there’s not a lot else to grumble about.
Tall adults will have plenty of leg, knee and foot room, too, and you won’t knock your head off the car’s roof, even if it has the optional panoramic sunroof. The seats are higher than in some electric SUVs to give you a good amount of thigh support and the flat rear floor makes it easy to carry three adults at once. Access through the big rear doors is brilliant and the e-tron’s raised height makes it easy even for achy grandparents to slide into place.
It’s pretty easy to lift a bulky child seat through the wide rear door openings, but you have to be careful not to lose the removable Isofix covers when locking a seat in place. With two seats fitted, there’s just enough space for an adult to sit in the middle.
Interior storage in the Audi e-tron is just as good as you’d expect in the firm’s other cars. The large door pockets will each swallow a litre bottle of water with space left over for quite a lot more and their felt lining stops smaller items rattling about over bumps. Unfortunately, the oddly recessed glovebox design means there isn’t a great deal of space inside.
You get two cup holders each for the front and back seats and all e-tron’s get wireless mobile phone charging. The latter comes in combination with Audi’s Phone Box which uses the car’s ariel to amplify your smartphone’s signal in places where you get poor reception.
The e-tron has a huge 605-litre boot that’s wide enough to comfortably carry a set of golf clubs. There’s also room for two large suitcases and a baby buggy on its side under the parcel shelf.
The boot has plenty of handy features like tethers for holding down your luggage, hooks for keeping your shopping upright and a couple of smaller storage areas for smaller items. There’s more than enough space under the boot floor to carry a large rucksack, but not quite enough room to store the parcel shelf if you need to remove it.
You can fold the back seats into the floor by pulling a couple of levers that are conveniently located at the front of the boot. The resulting flat floor and huge boot opening make it easy to slide bulky items into place and the 1,755-litre capacity means the e-tron has plenty of space for sliding in a mountain bike with both its wheels attached.
You even get a bonus 60-litre ‘frunk’ underneath the car’s bonnet that offers just about enough room for a large soft bag, but probably end up using it for storing the car’s bulky charging cable.
Like all electric cars, the e-tron’s performance is instant, although with more than 400hp it feels a little more instant than most. It’s also heavier than most, though, and that hinders its cornering ability
The e-tron has the instant acceleration of a scalextric car that’s burst into life during a power surge
The Audi e-tron is powered by batteries and two electric motors that pump out up to 408hp. With one motor each on the front and rear axle, the e-tron is four-wheel drive giving you fuss-free acceleration, even on slippery roads.
As a result, the e-tron can whisk you silently from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph, though the most basic Tesla Model X is quicker still. The Audi’s best performance only comes in eight-second bursts in ‘S’ mode, though. Most of the time you get 306hp and a 0-62mph of time of 6.6 seconds to help prolong battery life.
Drive sensibly and the e-tron should have a range of 249 miles, helped by regenerative brakes that recharge the battery every time you lift your foot off the accelerator. Although, it is worth noting that the Audi’s range is some way short of the 292 miles Jaguar claims for its I-Pace.
On the bright side, the e-tron can be charged using 150KW fast-charging stations that mean its battery can be recharged from flat to 80% in 30 minutes. Charge it from a dedicated wall box at home, however, and a full charge will take nine hours.
As a big SUV, the Audi e-tron might not look like an obvious town car, but there are many things that make it great for the city. Its near-silent electric motors make it a quiet car to trundle about in and their instant thrust means you can shoot into gaps when others are caught dawdling.
You don’t need to worry about being in the right gear because there is only one. You do get paddles mounted on the steering wheel, but these control the level of regenerative braking rather than changing gears. Pull the left paddle and the motors are used to help slow the car more quickly (recharging the batteries in the process) or pull the right paddle to let the e-tron glide to a graceful – and eventual – halt.
With no nasty emissions, the Audi e-tron is free from paying additional tariffs like the London Congestion Charge. Even parking is easy because the car comes as standard with a 360-degree camera that gives you a bird’s eye view all around the car.
Unlike smaller EVs, though, the e-tron’s an electric car that works equally well when you get onto the motorway. With up to 408hp available, the Audi delivers the same vigorous acceleration as you get in town and the car’s standard air suspension does a better job of ironing out the road than when you’re tottering about at slower speeds.
The e-tron’s large wheels – particularly the 21-inch items on top-end versions – make a bit of thrum when you’re cruising but there’s no engine noise to speak of. The optional rear-view cameras don’t suffer from the wind noise you get with wing mirrors, either, so if you go for them there’s no need to spec the double-glazed side windows.
Better to save your money for the Tour Pack that – in addition to the standard automatic emergency brakes and lane assist – adds a variety of driving aids that mean the e-tron can more or less drive itself on the motorway and in busy traffic – as long as you keep your hands on the wheel, that is.
With all this clever kit – not to mention the huge 700kg battery hidden under the floor – you won’t be surprised to hear that the e-tron feels heavy in bends, even for a big SUV. Its 2,490kg kerb weight means it tips the scales at 300kgs more than a Jaguar I-Pace.
As a result, the Audi can’t match the Jaguar’s relative agility in bends and turning hard in tight corners results in a lot of screeching from the front tyres. Sweeping country A-roads suit the e-tron better because it’s less prone to leaning through fast bends and the four-wheel drive means you can zap from one corner to the next at a fair rate of knots.
That said, too much of this will see your 250-mile range drop like a stone. Towing will have a similar effect but it’s worth noting that the e-tron can haul a 1,800kg trailer if you need it to.
The Audi e-tron has more high-tech screens than a Currys shop window, but it’s a shame they’re so tricky to use when you’re trying to focus on driving