The Car Connection Audi e-tron Overview
The Audi e-tron is a fully electric SUV, and the first all-electric Audi model.
In the current market of electric vehicles, the e-tron stands as a counterpoint to the Tesla Model X. While the Tesla aimed to be different in so many ways, the e-tron looks and feels like it was designed to fit right in alongside Audi’s current range of SUVs.
With the e-tron, Audi not only has a competitor for the Model X, but also the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC and BMW iX3 among other electric cars from mainstream carmakers.
The new Audi e-tron
The e-tron fits right in with its familiar quattro badge, Audi’s moniker for all-wheel drive. With two motors—one makes 224 horsepower and 262 pound-feet in back and 184 hp and 228 lb-ft in front, —the e-tron manages torque front to rear depending on traction demands. The e-tron doesn’t quite offer Tesla straight-line performance—yet. The e-tron can launch from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds, with a top speed of 124 mph, but it feels quick, graceful, and well-coordinated in real-world driving.
The e-tron has an innovative braking system that’s configured to recoup more energy when braking than other electric vehicles. The e-tron uses electric motors to slow the car to recapture as much energy as possible, and only uses the brake pads for more abrupt stops.
Driving range is information for electric vehicles, and at the e-tron still hasn’t been rated by the U.S. EPA. Based on Audi’s projections for Europe’s WLTP cycle, we anticipate an official range of more than 200 miles. The e-tron will be one of the quickest vehicles at gaining a quick recharge on the road, though; it can take advantage of new 150-kw CCS (Combo) chargers—such as those being installed by Electrify America—to gain an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. On a Level 2 (240V) charger like what you might have installed at home, the e-tron can fully recharge in as little as nine hours, and Audi is partnering with Amazon to make charger installation a simple, coordinated process.
All e-trons come with a multi-mode air suspension and adaptive damping, and ride comfort in the e-tron is great, with well-damped body motions and an extraordinarily quiet cabin at highway speeds. All the cabin appointments and seating in the e-tron could be mistaken for that in Audi’s other current SUVs; front seats have great back support, and the back seats are good for two adults all day in the outboard positions. There’s 28.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seatback up and 57 cubic feet with it folded forward.
The e-tron comes with an excellent set of active-safety features, including active lane departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and the expected full suite of airbags (a separate rear side airbag is optional). Adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam assist is optional (or standard on Prestige), and it can take control of the brakes, steering, and accelerator for short distances when the driver remains present.
For 2019, the e-tron starts at $75,775, and comes in Premium Plus and Prestige models, with an Edition 1 model offering unique 21-inch wheels and some other minor trim and equipment extras versus the top Prestige. It’s eligible for the $7,500 EV tax credit—something many households will be able to take advantage of.
The Audi e-tron will arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019. Its run for the 2019 model year may be short, but with a performance variant likely added to the lineup for 2020 and the Porsche Taycan–based e-tron GT fastback due for 2021—plus another more affordable electric SUV—Audi is clearly committed to going electric.