Unlike Jaguar and, to a lesser extent, Mercedes, Audi has resisted the urge to endow its first series-production EV with a design that could be described as radical.

A fleeting glance reveals a purposeful face dominated by a large, hexagonal single-frame grille, and an expansive light strip across its rear end – both design features we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on Audi’s existing models. The more reserved mode adopted here will surely be motivated by a desire to coax more conservatively minded buyers into the all-electric SUV; a more outlandish one, though, might have given the E-tron more distinctive presence on the road.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Audi’s decision to install a charge port on both sides of the E-tron’s front end didn’t require any genius, but it’s highly effective. No longer will you have to stress about the length of your charge cable.

That said, the E-tron’s form played a crucial part in allowing Audi’s aerodynamics engineers to achieve their targets. The car’s shape – combined with a completely flat underbody, trick alloys, a controllable cool-air inlet in the front grille and optional camera-based wing mirrors – sees the E-tron’s drag coefficient drop as low as 0.27. The Jaguar I-Pace manages a figure of 0.29 by comparison.

This all sits on an adapted version of the Volkswagen Group’s MLB Evo platform. At 4.9 metres long, the E-tron lies between the larger Q7 and smaller Q5 in terms of size, but at just 1.6m tall it’s lower than both.

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The layout of its electric powertrain makes for familiar reading. Two slightly differently packaged and powered electric motors, one at each axle and each driving through a slightly differently geared epicyclic transmission with a fixed ratio, combine to form the E-tron’s all-wheel-drive system. A 95kWh ‘skateboard’ battery sits in between the axles and beneath the floor.

Combined, the motors develop 355bhp and 414lb ft – but switch to Boost mode and these figures temporarily rise to 403bhp and 490lb ft. Under WLTP test conditions, this set-up allows for a claimed range of more than 241 miles – some way short of the Jaguar’s 292-mile theoretical range and less, even, than Mercedes’ rival, the EQC. Audi says that up to 30% of this range is a product of the car’s energy recuperation system, however, which harvests kinetic energy when the driver lifts off the throttle or presses the brake pedal via a segment-first ‘by-wire’ braking system.

Air suspension and adaptive dampers are standard, while a multi-link suspension architecture is employed at both the front and rear axles. Audi claims a kerb weight of 2490kg to DIN, with weight being split 50:50 front to rear. Our test scales put the E-tron at a hefty 2569kg, split evenly.

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