Audi e-tron Sportback Review
The Audi e-tron Sportback has a beautiful interior and is great to drive. Unlike other Audi Sportbacks rear space isn’t really compromised, but alternative electric SUVs have longer ranges.
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The Audi e-tron Sportback provides proof that the brand doesn’t really do ‘shouty’, because it’s one of company’s most futuristic models but you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from the conventionally fuelled models. Where the Tesla Model X with its ‘Falcon Wing’ doors is all a bit ‘look at me, I’m from the future’, the Audi is more like Knight Rider’s KITT in that it looks totally normal but does extraordinary things.
All this equally applies to the e-tron SUV, but the Sportback takes all that’s good about Audi big SUV EV and puts it into a slightly sleeker package. Think of the BMW X5 and X6 and you’ll get the picture.
At the front, the e-tron and Sportback are virtually identical, with the four Audi rings surrounded by a large grille (despite there being no engine to cool), two air intakes and a pair of Matrix LED headlights. The Sportback rolls on 21-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, it’s all very mission control, with no fewer than three high-resolution screens, plus swathes of soft-touch plastic and brushed metal-effect highlights. There’s likely more computing power in here than got Neil Armstrong to the Moon and back, and you’ll probably still get lost on the way to Sainsbury’s.
You can specify your e-tron Sportback without door mirrors, too; if you do, they’ll be replaced by small cameras that project their images onto screens at either end of the dashboard. Cool? Undeniably. Practical? Jury’s out.
Audi has long been famed for the quality of its interiors, and that reputation remains intact here, because fit and finish are great; the switches, metallic finishes and leather trims will make you feel pretty good, although the sides of the centre console and the glovebox lid let the side down a bit.
There’s plenty of space for five adults, and the more sloping rear tailgate hasn’t had too much of an adverse effect on luggage capacity.
Up front, the large front seats can make even the most sizeable of frames comfortable, and there’s a vast range of adjustment for the seats and the steering wheel. Getting into and out of the front and rear is made easy because of the huge, wide-opening doors, so you’ll have no worries even if you aren’t quite the racing snake you once were.
You’ll want to take a relaxed approach, because the big Audi is an extremely quiet car to whisper around in.
Talking of racing snakes, the e-tron Sportback isn’t one, although as with most electric vehicles it’s pretty brisk off the line; the 402hp whirrs you past 62mph in 5.7 seconds.
If you take things easy, the e-tron Sportback should have a range of around 240 miles, which is significantly less than the 292 miles Jaguar claims for its I-Pace.
When it’s time to charge, topping up your e-tron from empty at home using a dedicated wall box takes nine hours, but find a rapid 150kw fast-charger 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.
You’ll want to take a relaxed approach, because the big Audi is an extremely quiet car to whisper around in. There’s almost no drivetrain noise, and the air suspension goes about the business of keeping you isolated from the road very quietly indeed.
Relaxed it may be, but fun it isn’t, although few 2.5-tonne SUVs are; blame the 700kg battery pack for that. As a result, hustling it down a twisty road feels like trying to have a game of rounders with Dame Judi Dench – it’s just not right.
But that would be to miss the point of the e-tron Sportback. It’s not meant for hustling, no. It’s designed to take from here to there in extreme comfort, and to make you look like a stylish eco-warrior while you do so. Just make sure that the ‘there’ isn’t too far from the ‘here’.
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