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Audi’s first mass-market electric vehicle touches down in the UK. Is it now the premium EV to have?

Our Verdict

Audi E-tron quattro 2018 review - hero front

Real quality engineering, but the electric Audi's trump card is a wide range of driving qualities and outstanding practicality

  • First Drive

    Audi E-tron 2019 UK review

    Audi’s first mass-market electric vehicle touches down in the UK. Is it now the premium EV to have?
  • First Drive

    Audi E-tron 2019 prototype review

    Audi developed the E-tron for drivers who want an electric luxury car that doesn’t look or feel like it runs on battery power. Early signs bode well

What is it?

If the arrival of the Audi E-tron on British roads suggests one thing, it’s that the Cold War is well and truly starting to heat up. Not the one from the history books, of course, but the growing skirmish being waged at the premium end of the electric SUV market.

It’s a tussle you’ll probably be familiar with. Tesla struck first with its trailblazing Model X, and in 2018 Jaguar retaliated with the I-Pace. Mercedes-Benz is set to enter into the fray with the EQC later this year, as is BMW with its forthcoming iX3. There must be some sort of domino-based metaphor in there somewhere.

Anyway, the E-tron. It’s a shot across the bows of the world’s established high-end car makers, signifying that Audi isn’t about to sit back and let its rivals capitalise on an ever-growing appetite for plush, eco-friendly cars. And so far, the E-tron’s formula looks to be a convincing one; it has an image that’s indisputably Audi, with a spacious, materially rich interior, and a technology roster entirely befitting of the type of car that might well represent the future of motoring.

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What's it like?

Audi’s impeccably sharp 12.3in digital instrument display comes as standard, as does the latest MMI dual-touchscreen infotainment system. Virtual door mirrors can optionally replace conventional items to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Meanwhile, one of the 150kW public chargers that are beginning to be rolled out across the UK will top up the car's 95kWh battery pack to 80% capacity in as little as half an hour. Fully juiced, the E-tron should be able to travel up to 241 miles, according to the WLTP test cycle.

Admittedly, that’s not as high as the I-Pace’s official range of 292 miles and perhaps still a wee bit optimistic out in the real world. Our test route covered 118 miles on a mixture of Yorkshire A-roads and B-roads, with a dash of town driving thrown in for good measure. At its conclusion, the dashboard readout informed us that the E-tron was still good for another 65 miles or so. So you’re probably looking at a real range of about 200 miles, which is roughly what we achieved when we road tested the I-Pace last year.

Where the E-tron really impresses, though, is in ride comfort and rolling refinement. Unlike the I-Pace, the E-tron rides on adaptive air suspension as standard, and because it’s not gunning to be quite as sharp-handling or dynamically exciting, it doesn’t suffer from the same sense of agitation that sometimes troubles the Jaguar on challengingly surfaced stretches of Tarmac. Optional acoustic glazing for the E-tron's side windows makes for an impressively hushed, serene interior, where road roar is present but distant. A slippery shape (the E-tron has a drag coefficient of just 0.28Cd) helps minimise wind noise, too. It’s an impressively relaxing car to drive.

With nearly 2.5 tonnes of mass to lug around, the E-tron isn’t particularly balletic, but it grips strongly and steers with a reassuring sense of purpose, if little in the way of feedback. It’s very Audi in this regard: planted, stable and surefooted, if lacking a touch in outright engagement. It’s quick, too, what with a maximum combined output of 402bhp and 490lb ft from its two electric motors in Boost mode and 355bhp and 414lb ft under normal conditions. Even with the lower output on tap, it’s still heroically quick off the mark.

Should I buy one?

That the E-tron is an important model for Audi goes without saying. It’s the car that's setting the tone for all of the marque’s future electric models, of which three will arrive by the end of next year. And based on our experience of the E-tron on British roads, the benchmark has been set high indeed.

Keen drivers may miss the I-Pace’s more pronounced athleticism, but as a classy, refined, practical, comfortable and sophisticated premium electric car, it could well be the E-tron that proves the more popular of the two. Time will no doubt tell.

Audi E-tron 55 Quattro

Tested Yorkshire, UK On sale Now Price £71,520 (before £3500 government grant) Engine Two asynchronous electric motors Battery 95kWh, lithium ion Power 402bhp (in Boost mode) Torque 490lb ft (in Boost mode) Gearbox Single-speed Kerb weight 2490kg 0-62mph 5.7sec (Boost mode) Top speed 124mph (electronically limited) Range 241 miles (WLTP) Rivals Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model X

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Comments
37

10 April 2019

It's more rounded form looks rather like the previous model Q5, which is no bad thing after Audi's recent efforts, but look how much of that huge grille is just solid plastic.  A perfect opportunity to do something more distinctive and less vulgar is squandered at the altar of "brand identity"

10 April 2019
Daniel Joseph wrote:

..A perfect opportunity to do something more distinctive and less vulgar is squandered at the altar of "brand identity"

I think Audi is playing it safe with good reason, that being it figures many potential EV buyers might be put off by electric cars that look very different and/or are different to operate. I guess it's a case of what is familiar will approve appealing to the buyers.

10 April 2019

But heavier, slower, looks any other Q5, over fussy interior and a fair bit more expensive than the I-Pace. Swings and round-a-bouts but I go I-Pace, E-Tron then Model X in this class.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 April 2019
xxxx wrote:

But heavier, slower, looks any other Q5, over fussy interior and a fair bit more expensive than the I-Pace. Swings and round-a-bouts but I go I-Pace, E-Tron then Model X in this class.

There's not much in it. Recharge times may give this an edge, but it's marginal overall.

16 April 2019
TStag wrote:

xxxx wrote:

But heavier, slower, looks any other Q5, over fussy interior and a fair bit more expensive than the I-Pace. Swings and round-a-bouts but I go I-Pace, E-Tron then Model X in this class.

There's not much in it. Recharge times may give this an edge, but it's marginal overall.

300kg heavier isn't marginal (just read TopGears review), nor is a 1.2 second disadvantage to 60 when you go sub 6 second times. Also, the Audi is £10k+ more expensive (£20k more at  the moment because only the launch edition is available at the moment), but even £10k isn't that marginal. 

Note. "Recharge times may give this an edge" I-Pace times have just been upgraded. 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 April 2019

Boring, Dull, Generic styling and will be mostly sold in a grey colour to grey people lacking in personality who don’t really get cars, or driving , but who obsess over brands and badges above all else.

Wanna argue with me?

 

You can’t.

Just look at current AUDI owners for proof....

Steam cars are due a revival.

16 April 2019
Thekrankis wrote:

Boring, Dull, Generic styling ....

Wanna argue with me?

 

You can’t.

Just look at current AUDI owners for proof....

As are your posts

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 April 2019

I thought I saw one of these yesterday, then decided as it isnt on the road over here yet it mustve been a Q5. Now I have no idea. Shame that its so nondescript and conventional.

 

When will EV tests start to reference Petrol/Diesel models as rivals rather than just other BEVs?

10 April 2019

but it is a design that sells, and this one will too. I'm more concerned to know what the real world range is like as that will have a bigger impact on choice. 

10 April 2019

Audi have made a big deal of the permanenet magnet motors in this model.  So, no, they're definitely not asynchronous motors (that would be the Tesla Model S/X). 

No hint of energy consumption per mile or km?  Perhaps you should start quoting that on test as well rather than WLTP which is not very accurate (although better than NEDC).

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