Once I obtained the prospect to check drive the brand new Audi e-tron within the deserts of Namibia, it was clear Audi hadn’t developed an electrical SUV merely for tarmac roads. Whereas most drivers gained’t expertise it, it turned out to be fairly the joys to float an electrical SUV. Certainly so far as I can keep in mind, it’s in all probability probably the most enjoyable I’ve had behind the wheel of a luxurious SUV.
The 2019 e-tron SUV is a massively necessary car for Audi, however you wouldn’t essentially comprehend it at first look. For those who’re used to the crisp, stoic design of Audi automobiles, you’ll discover the clear strains and comparatively subdued styling to be one of many strongest factors. Right here is an electrical car that just about resembles a standard SUV, or some other Audi you see on the lot. There are not any bizarre quirks to make it stand out, and that’s not a nasty factor to have in an electrical car making an attempt to coax mainstream drivers away from their gas-guzzlers.
Then once more, there’s part of me that desires at the very least a contact of quirky styling to set the e-tron aside from all the things else on the market. I’m not speaking about falcon doorways – Tesla received there first with the Mannequin X – or an influence dome hood. The brand new e-tron sits between Audi’s Q5 and Q7 in measurement, and there’s no denying the similarities of the e-tron’s styling with the remainder of the lineup. It’s to be anticipated, in fact, because the EV is predicated on the modified MLB Evo platform, which is identical underpinning the Q5.
You could be too conservative within the identify of interesting to as broad an viewers as potential, nevertheless, and for me, it unfairly performs down simply how a lot that’s new that the Audi e-tron brings to the desk. Fortunately, whereas the outside styling is protected and subdued, the identical can’t be stated for the inside. Smaller than a Tesla Mannequin X outdoors, the Audi can simply accommodate 5 passengers within the utmost luxurious. If there’s one factor that critically bugs me about Tesla’s costliest fashions, it’s the slightly humdrum and boring cabins. With the e-tron, you and your passengers are ensconced in a chic area with loads of room to maneuver round.
For starters, the Audi e-tron is significantly quiet. And I imply eerily silent to a fault. Even when in comparison with the quiet and refined consolation of mainstream electrical automobiles, the brand new Audi e-tron nudges forward in general refinement. It’s enjoyable, soothing, and virtually therapeutic. You’ll nonetheless hear the vague whine of the electrical motors on the entrance and rear of the cabin, however it’s a subdued and unexpectedly nice tone. I just like the sound of a roaring R8 V10 plus, or the distinct wail of BMW’s M-Collection V10, positive, however I’m additionally starting to understand the hushed but authoritative whine of completely tuned electrical motors.
A part of the smoothness of the 2019 Audi e-tron comes from the aerodynamic effectivity of its sculpted physique. With a claimed drag coefficient of simply zero.27, the e-tron SUV feels easy to push in an open freeway or a twisty lengthy stretch of dust street with beautiful sand dunes throughout. I didn’t get the prospect to check the US model, which can come outfitted with conventional glass aspect mirrors, as Audi’s fleet was outfitted with the glossy camera-based mirrors as an alternative.
Audi says they’re instrumental in serving to with effectivity, answerable for 1.5 miles of additional vary alone courtesy of the reduce in drag. Nevertheless, they do require some getting used to because the show is positioned decrease down contained in the door panel in comparison with the place your eyes mechanically flick to in order to see regular mirrors. In the event you’re within the US, although, that is all concept anyway: the $1,000 choice is off the desk, at the least till regulatory modifications are made down the street.
Driving leisure comes within the type of two electrical motors, that are mounted in the back and front of the car. That is the place it will get fascinating. I’m fairly positive Audi might have outfitted the e-tron with a pair of extra powerful motors to ship the neck-snapping acceleration of the Tesla Mannequin X P100D – which may blast from zero to 60 mph in an unbelievable 2.9-seconds – however they opted to not.
It’s proof you don’t want an ultra-powerful electrical car to have some critical driving enjoyable. Push the pedal to the ground and the Audi e-tron SUV will oblige a zero to 60 mph run in round 5.7-seconds. That’s not dangerous for an electrical SUV weighing in at roughly 5,500 kilos: 330 kilos heavier than the Telsa Mannequin X, and 661 kilos heavier than Jaguar’s I-PACE. The numbers may recommend the Tesla Mannequin X will depart the Audi e-tron within the mud in a head-to-head drag race, however the automotive feels surprisingly quicker than what the official numbers may recommend. It’s not sluggish by any means, the mixture of the battery placement and 40:60 torque cut up doing a implausible job at masking the load.
Not solely surprisingly fast, however the e-tron additionally reacts with youthful exuberance. That’s what a mixed output of 402 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque in Increase mode can do should you’re desperate to bury the pedal. Agile when pushed within the tight confines of pockmarked metropolis roads, there’s a welcome sporty angle on the wide-open freeway. To be truthful, our drive in Abu Dhabi wasn’t the should thrilling for worry of issues worse than a rushing ticket; to be protected, we set the adaptive cruise management to five kph under the posted velocity restrict. US automobiles will get a brand new driver-attention system, which can use capacitive sensors to trace your arms on the wheel fairly than forcing you to tug towards it.
You shouldn’t really feel shortchanged because the roads flip from straight to twisty, both. With a low middle of gravity mixed with the swift energy switch of the all-electric Quattro drivetrain, you’ll be able to throw the Audi e-tron SUV into a decent nook with out feeling such as you’re dropping management of the car. Definitely, there’s nonetheless a slight trace of nervousness as you strategy the apex of the flip – there’s solely a lot know-how can do within the face of physics, in any case – however the high-tech drivetrain and torque vectoring ought to have you ever exiting the nook feeling like a champ.
The fluidity of the dealing with is significantly partaking. And certainly that is what I really like probably the most concerning the new Audi e-tron SUV. I knew beforehand that it might deal with a little bit of the tough stuff. It’s not a hardcore off-roader, no, and neither is it blessed with the climbing talents of a mountain goat. As an alternative, it presents larger than common talents over dust roads, unfastened sand, or coarse patches of asphalt.
The perfect half? You’ll be able to have tons of enjoyable with out the dreaded vary nervousness. The e-tron is fitted with a 95 kWh battery, which on European WLTP check cycle is sweet sufficient for 248 miles of vary. US figures aren’t settled but, however we’re anticipating someplace round 200 miles when the EPA is completed. That’s not game-changing within the phase by any means, however what helps set the Audi aside is the 150 kW quick charger help. Discover the fitting charger – and VW Group is investing in them closely, courtesy of Electrify America – the system can recharge the battery to 80% capability, or roughly 160-185 miles of vary, in 30 minutes.
Instrumental to the e-tron’s effectivity is Audi’s recuperation know-how, which is shaping as much as be the most effective within the enterprise. Power is captured and pushed again into the battery once you brake under zero.3g of retardation whereas coasting, or for those who manually set off it utilizing the left and proper paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The transition between recuperation and the bodily brakes is so clean as to be imperceptible, too, although I wouldn’t argue with extra of the previous for the comfort of one-pedal driving.
If there’s ever a time when you must have the necessity to tough it out within the backwoods, simply know that the e-tron SUV is inflexible sufficient to tackle delicate to medium off-road duties. Change the Drive Choose to Off-Street mode and also you’re good to go: the air suspension smooths out any bumps you may encounter, and in addition permits for the suspension to raise up 1.Four-inches for higher floor clearance. The “Lift” mode raises issues one other zero.6 inches. We had the chance to check out simply how properly it dealt with Abu Dhabi’s desert terrain, and I’m pretty assured that what we did was greater than any house owners will put this car via.
After our enjoyable round – not in – the dunes, switching again to Consolation drops the e-tron right down to regular peak. Nonetheless, the trick suspension can routinely decrease the SUV by as a lot as an inch to scale back wind resistance and enhance aerodynamics.
On the within, the cabin is suitably futuristic-looking with Audi’s wonderful twin-touchscreen infotainment system, with loads of consolation entrance and rear. A 3rd show is for the driving force, the newest iteration of Audi’s Digital Cockpit dealing up not solely the driving force’s instrumentation however new screens for EV-specific content material. I notably like the brand new gear lever, which neatly rests underneath the middle casing and shifts ahead for Reverse and again into place into Drive.
Up to now, so good… no less than till we get the e-tron SUV to drive proper right here at residence, anyway, to get a really feel for the way it holds up on US roads. With all of the consolation, quiet, and tech within the Audi e-tron, selecting an electrical automotive over a standard one is turning into a a lot simpler determination. On the finish of the day, with the event and construct out of DC quick charging all through the US, vary nervousness will more and more grow to be a factor of the previous. That may depart the e-tron SUV shaping up properly as the first household car for increasingly individuals, as an alternative of a secondary standby trusted just for brief distance commutes. With pricing beginning at $74,800 for the well-equipped premium plus trim, and $81,800 for the status – each earlier than any relevant tax credit and incentives – this primary all-electric foray by Audi is robust out the gate.