The e-tron is Audi’s first fully battery electric vehicle coming to Australia in late 2019 prices starting at around $140,000. I think Audi describes the car well; that it is “the very pinnacle of automotive technology; with all of the performance, luxury and appointment that are trademarks of the Audi brand.” The e-tron joins the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace in the luxury electric SUV range and so the question now is, how does the e-tron compare to them?
There is an electric motor on each axle, the rear being slightly more powerful producing a total of 265 kW and 664 Nm of torque. Audi claims that the car can do 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 200km/h. The car has a single charge-range of over 400km and uses fancy technology to recover energy by converting kinetic energy into electric energy when you’re coasting or breaking. A cool feature about the car is that it has charge points on both sides of the car. It accepts charge up to 150kW which means that it can be charged from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes but I don’t believe that there are many charging points in Australia that offer 150kW. You would most likely charge the car at home, at 11kW which would take around 9 hours. The I-Pace has a range of 470km and the Model X has a range of 505km, so really the e-tron falls short there.
What I am interested in, is the cars performance off-road. The e-tron is Audi’s first electric generation of Audi quattro, Audi claims that the system regulates optimum amount of torque required between the two axles for maximum traction, constantly monitoring grip and responding in 30 milliseconds to detect changes. According to Audi the all-wheel drive is faster than the conventional quattro and combined with the car’s low centre of gravity and axle load distribution the e-tron should have extraordinary composure in all condition regardless of speed. Audi, if you’re reading this, can I take it out for a test drive, rally style, just to prove that you’re right?
The e-tron sits between the Audi Q5 and Q7. I think that the e-tron has a much more appealing look than the Q3, Q5 and the Q7. The e-tron has a fastback look similar to that of the Q8 and personally I really like the look a lot more compared to the rest of the Q range. What makes the e-tron special and unique for me is the optional virtual mirrors. Audi has really tried to keep the e-tron a “normal” car to keep the car familiar to encourage people to make the switch to EV, so I really appreciate the few extra details to makes the car special. The virtual mirror makes the car more aerodynamic (allowing for longer range) and it gives the car a bit more futuristic look and feature. Although one of my concerns is what happens if the mirrors stop working for whatever reason – I’m assuming you can’t drive to the dealership without mirrors without getting in trouble with the police – how does Audi actually address this possible issue? Another problem with the virtual mirrors is that you can’t move your head to alter your angle of view (I do that a lot when joining a motorway) but then again I think that it is something that you can learn to live with, you just have to look back to double check your sides a bit more. It’s like changing cars from one with larger side mirrors to a car with smaller ones – you adjust. Personally, I think that the e-tron has the upper hand in looks compared to the Model X and I-Pace. I feel like Jaguar couldn’t decide what category they wanted I-Pace to be in, so it’s this really weird mix of wagon, SUV and sedan and I’m just not crazy about its looks. Similar deal with the Model X, it sort of looks like a wagon, so I’m not really a huge fan.
The interior is very similar to the Q8. There are five screens upfront; two in the centre console, a full width dash screen for the Virtual Cockpit and two more on the doors either side for the optional virtual mirrors. The lack of switches and buttons means that the car gets a clean and smooth interior environment. The middle console is slightly tilted towards the driver, so you would be cocooned in futuristic luxury and control. The car sits four adults very comfortably, you can sit five people but the middle person in the back doesn’t get much legroom. I like the interior a lot more than Tesla’s Model X and Jaguar’s I-Pace. The Model X looks like it has a giant iPad stuck in the middle without any attention to detail and I know that it might have a lot more applications than the e-tron but I just don’t like how it looks. The I-Pace interior looks a bit old fashioned and the materials used look a bit plasticy, so another point for the Audi for interior.
All in all though, if I had to pick a car out of all of these I would just buy the Audi Q8 (prices around $130,000 plus on-road costs). It has the looks, it has the speed, it can survive off-road and it doesn’t have the charging problem. It still does not seem like the right time to make the switch to EV since the infrastructure is still incomplete and has a long way to go before it is. I would give it another 5 years or so before the infrastructure is complete and then, I will buy the Audi e-tron.