What is it?
It has taken more than three years for the Audi E-tron SUV to progress from formative concept stage to full production maturity. In that time the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X have gone on sale, giving Ingolstadt’s first production electric car plenty of rivals when it goes on sale here early next year.
A lot is hanging on the new zero-emission SUV, not least Audi’s standing in what is set to become a hugely competitive segment. The E-tron sports all of Audi’s traditional design cues. At 4900mm long, 1940mm wide and 1620mm high, it is 237mm longer, 48mm wider and 39mm lower than the second-generation Audi Q5 and is claimed to offer similar cabin space to the Audi Q7.
It’s a smart looking car which features the sort of attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Audi, and with it comes an unsurprisingly long list of optional extras which includes the so-called Virtual Mirrors on our test car.
The E-tron is based on a heavily modified version of the MLB platform used by the Q5, which helps to explain the visual similarities to its combustion-engined sibling. Underneath, however, it is unique.
At its core is an electric driveline with two asynchronous motors – one sitting up front with 181bhp and the other at the rear with 221bhp– connected by an electronic ‘prop shaft’ that eschews a conventional mechanical connection for a wiring loom. Together, the two motors provide four-wheel drive and deliver up to 402bhp and 487lb ft, although this is only available in Boost mode, which also gives the new Audi a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.7sec. Top speed is limited to 124mph.
In Normal mode power and torque are reduced by 13% and 18% respectively, to 350bhp and 414lb ft, to increase the range, although this is still enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.4sec. Energy is supplied by a liquid-cooled 95kWh lithium ion battery mounted low in the floor. Overall, the battery weighs 700kg – a good chunk of the car’s 2490kg kerb weight.
The battery can be charged using a 150kW fast charger, with which Audi claims a charging time of just 30 minutes up to an energy capacity of 80%. For home charging there is a standard 11kW charger, which charges the battery in 8.5 hours.