Audi e-tron Sportback Review & Prices
The Audi e-tron Sportback has a beautiful interior and is great to drive. Unlike other Audi Sportback models, rear space isn’t really compromised, but alternative electric SUVs have longer ranges
What's not so good
Find out more about the Audi e-tron Sportback
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 almost 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’s 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.
One of the screens controls the ventilation system, and it’s pretty decent, although conventional buttons like those found in the e-tron GT saloon would be easier to operate on the move.
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 but the verdict might not be great.
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 all look and feel suitably polished, although the plastics in the sides of the centre console and the glovebox lid let the side down a bit.
Still, the door bins are huge, and that glovebox is pretty large, although it’s also a weird shape. Talking of odd – the e-tron Sportback’s price is almost £70k, yet, it doesn’t have rear-seat cupholders. What’s that all about?
However, 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. It has 615 litres available, or enough for seven carry-on cases, although the Audi’s capacity is bested by the 656 litres offered by the Jaguar I-Pace. There’s also a storage area under the boot floor that’s (almost) big enough for a carry-on case.
The boot lip is acceptably small, and there are numerous classy-feeling tie-down points. You fold down the rear seats using levers on top of the seatbacks, and while the seats don’t lie completely flat, there’s no awkward step in the boot floor when they’re down. Handy.
Audi has seen fit to give the car a front boot, too, although this is only big enough for the charging cables. A Tesla Model X has a much more useable front storage area.
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.
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There’s decent leg and head room in the back, too, although the seats don’t do any fancy sliding/reclining party tricks. The centre rear passenger might find their head brushing the roof lining, too.
It’s easy enough to fit even a bulk rear-facing child seat, although the covers for the ISOFIX points must be removed instead of just flipped up, which will make them easy to lose.
Still, the 40/20/40 split rear seat is easy to fold and allows you to carry long objects and two rear passengers.
Talking of racing snakes, the e-tron Sportback isn’t one; the ‘normal’ model weighs almost two and a half tonnes, and the S model, with its bigger batteries and three motors, is 2.7 tonnes. Oof.
Still, as with most electric vehicles even the least powerful 50-badged model is pretty brisk off the line; its two motors and 313hp whirr you past 62mph in 6.8 seconds. Next up is the 55, which has two motors and 408hp, and it does 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. Finally, there’s the S model, which has three motors and (in boost mode) 503hp, and which we timed from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds.
If you take things easy, the entry-level e-tron Sportback should have a range of around 188 miles. The mid-range 55 model should do 241miles, and the S model should do 226miles. All of these are significantly less than the 292 miles Jaguar claims for its I-Pace.
All versions can be charged from empty to 80% in around half an hour, but while the top two can be hooked up to a faster 150kW charger, the 50 model can only charge at a maximum of 120kW.
You’ll want to take a relaxed approach on the road, 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.
The e-tron Sportback is light and easy to manoeuvre, and the view out of the front or rear is fairly uncompromised. Of course, there’s a camera system to help you see behind when parking anyway.
Relaxed it may be, but fun it isn’t, although few 2.5-tonne-plus 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 you 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’.
The Audi e-tron Sportback has a RRP range of £63,075 to £106,735. The price of a used Audi e-tron Sportback on carwow starts at £33,520.
In what is an increasingly crowded segment, the e-tron Sportback could be considered alongside the BMW iX3, Mercedes EQC and the Jaguar I-Pace. For those with a larger budget there’s the Tesla Model X to consider, while the Model Y from the same manufacturer and the Polestar 2 might also fit the bill for some buyers.
There are three trim levels available and as you move up the range, the wheels become larger (up to 21in), the number of gadgets increase and more safety tech gets added into the mix.
In reality, though, the base model offers more than enough for most drivers. The interior is of the typical high quality you come to expect from Audi, while many creature comforts – such as wireless charging and electrically operated seats and mirrors – come as standard.
Those familiar with the standard e-tron will find a lot of similarities in the Sportback, but rear visibility and vehicle weight might be an issue for some
As you’d expect with an electric car, the e-tron Sportback is quiet and therefore well suited to urban environments. It’s comfortable too – with supportive seats and plenty of room for the driver and their passengers.
On the move, Audi’s air suspension helps smooth out lumps and bumps in the road, while the light steering makes the big car easy to manoeuvre. The Audi’s collection of external cameras and sensors means that parking is made much easier, plus there is the option to use the car’s self-parking button.
The raised seating position enables a great view of the road, while blind-spot warning lights on the wing mirrors can prove invaluable when navigating lanes or junctions. They are also useful when it comes to spotting other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Despite the instant power available from the electric motors, progress is smooth from a standstill, which is ideal if you’re faced with crowded roads in busy towns or cities. Meanwhile, the brakes are progressive, however the regeneration system – which feeds power back to the battery when slowing down, or lifting off the accelerator – would benefit from being easier to leave in one setting.
On the motorway
Out on the open road, the Sportback provides a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the power available. In all versions – particularly the S model – there is a lot of performance, especially from 40-50mph, making accelerating and passing other motorists a simple task. However, be wary that having too much fun will hamper the available range, which could make the difference between having to stop to charge or not when travelling long distances.
Impressive insulation means that exterior noise is limited, ensuring the cabin is quiet and comfortable, even at higher speeds. Regenerative braking is also beneficial on motorways, however it can only be activated manually using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.
On a twisty road
Take the car out of the city or off the motorway and it’s a slightly different story. This e-tron may be called a Sportback, but the name alone doesn’t necessarily make it sporty. The issue is largely down to the car’s mass – the e-tron Sportback weighs in at 2.7 tonnes. The floor-mounted batteries try to limit the amount of roll and lean, thereby keeping the centre of gravity as low as possible, but it’s still noticeable.
Head through corners on a B-road and you can feel that it’s a big and heavy car and that twisty roads aren’t the natural habitat of the e-tron Sportback. But that doesn’t make it uncomfortable – in fact Audi’s four-wheel-drive enables plenty of grip and traction to give the driver confidence when approaching and exiting bends.
The e-tron Sportback offers plenty of innovative storage solutions in the cabin, but falls a little short in the boot and under the bonnet
The practicality of an SUV and the quality of Audi interiors combine in the e-tron Sportback’s cabin, which is shares with the standard e-tron EV. There are wide door bins to accommodate drinks bottles, books or other large items, while the centre console features a neatly designed – and covered – space for two cupholders, with another rectangular space alongside.
If anything, the space could be a bit too deep as if the seat is set high, any drinks could be difficult to access when they are stowed. The lined glovebox is wide and deep – again offering plenty of storage, plus it’s lockable, for extra peace of mind.
Mirror, window and seat adjustments are all electric, the latter having two memory settings for different drivers. The multi-directional adjustments enable drivers to get into their preferred position with ease. The leather seats also feature under-thigh support and offer heating on three different levels.
The steering wheel is ergonomically designed, with a range of buttons connected to the infotainment, voice assistant and cruise control in close proximity. It also offers manual adjustment in four directions as well as a heating option that is very effective on cold mornings.
For ease, mounted on the door, there is also an easy-to-access button to open the boot, which saves using buttons either under the bootlid or on the key.
Space in the back seats
Despite the sloping roofline of the Sportback, there is still ample headroom for rear passengers. There is obviously more in the standard e-tron, but buyers may be happy to compromise for the more sporty looking model.
Likewise legroom is good and passengers can take advantage of comfortable seats and generous-sized door bins for drinks, food, or anything else they might be taking with them.
In the rear middle seat there is a slight compromise on headroom, which is something to bear in mind for anyone with growing children or those who might be travelling five-up regularly. However, with no occupant in the middle, the rear armrest folds down and creates a nice, decent-sized surface.
There are ISOFIX points, which make mounting child seats easy, with plenty of room for even the largest ones on the market, as well as USB-C charging points.
Surprisingly, the coupé-like sloping roofline doesn't impact boot space and the Sportback has an extra five litres over its SUV-shaped e-tron sibling at 615 litres – enough for seven carry-on luggage bags. Another EV of a similar size – the Jaguar I-Pace has a slightly larger boot, but there’s not a great deal in it.
There is a bootlip that prevents a fully flat floor, but also a scuff plate, which makes it easier to remove larger or heavier items from the boot. Lift up the boot liner and there’s extra space that can swallow up smaller items of luggage or anything else you might want kept out of sight. Fold the rear seats down and there’s a completely flat floor for larger items.
There are good quality boot hooks and a 12V charging point, should you need power at the rear of the car for a cool box or other plug-in facilities.
At the front, there’s a relatively small space in place of the engine – not as much as you’d find in a Tesla Model X, for example. It’s enough for charging cables, but not much else. Plus it’s not as easy to access as the conventional (rear) boot.
Multi-screen operation means drivers get instant access to all infotainment solutions in one place, although it can be a bit overly complicated for some functions
Audi is known for quality interiors and the e-tron Sportback is no exception. The centre console is well equipped with plenty of storage space, wireless charging and cupholders.
The materials are high quality, with a mixture of leather, soft plastics and other welcoming materials.
As with the standard e-tron, the Sportback features Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and a dual display setup that integrates everything from navigation, audio, telephone and climate and much more. There is the option to personalise the appearance of the screen, so drivers have clear and instant access to navigation, speeds or driving data.
Using the central screen the menus are mostly easy to navigate, however, in some cases, the number of steps could be shortened. Smartphone connectivity is quick and seamless and wireless charging is available if the handset offers that capability.
The gear lever is cleverly and neatly integrated into the central space, underneath a covered ledge to rest your hand when changing from, for example, drive to reverse, or when coming to a stop.
The e-tron Sportback range kicks off with the 50 model, which gives drivers a 71kW/h battery pack and two electric motors – one at the front, one at the rear – generating 313bhp. Next up is the 55, with a 95kW/h battery pack, with a maximum 408bhp when using the ‘boost’ mode. Then the S version, with three motors – one at the front, two at the back – proving a total power output of 503bhp.
The driving range for the e-tron Sportback covers 188-241 miles and charging the battery from zero to 80% is possible in as little as 30 minutes at a high-powered public charger. The 55 and S models can be charged at 150kW, while the Sportback 50 only manages 120kW.
Economy-wise, the official data states that the e-tron Sportback achieves 2.5 miles per kWh. That’s lower than the most efficient electric SUVs, although it’s a big car, so has a lot of weight to move around. Drivers will struggle to get near the quoted available range of 241 miles, and switching on the air-conditioning will cost a few miles.
The Sportback hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP – Europe’s independent investigators of vehicle safety – but the standard e-tron was given five stars when evaluated. That rating is quite common for vehicles these days, but to achieve it still requires an impressive array of equipment and technologies to keep the driver and passengers safe.
There are front airbags, while all seats get belt pretensioners and load limiters. For side crash protection there are head airbags all round but, while they are standard for driver and passenger, chest and pelvis airbags are only available as part of a safety pack for rear passengers. All five spaces have seat belt reminder technology fitted.
Other systems fitted to the e-tron Sportback include autonomous emergency braking, which triggers automatically when it senses a pedestrian or cyclist in the car’s path.
There are no reported issues with the Sportback as yet, although it’s still a relatively new model.
Like the standard car, the e-tron Sportback comes with a three year/60,000-mile warranty, while the battery is covered under Audi’s eight year/100,000-mile promise. Some buyers might be happy with what is, in many respects an industry standard, especially alongside equivalents from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but others, such as Hyundai and Kia, offer cover of five and seven years respectively.
Three service plans are offered, either available online or – in the case of the Level 3 option – exclusively at Audi Centres. The plans range from £399 (or £33.25 a month for 12 months) to £880 (£36.67 for 24 months), with a mid-range (£785 or £32.71 a month) option also offered.