Then there’s an assured level of mid-corner purchase; a decent picture of front contact patch loading through the steering as you accelerate beyond the apex; and handling balance that never quite promises to become neutral under power but that doesn’t cause the car to head for the weeds either, therefore allowing you to carry speed easily and keep the car pointed where you intend all the while.
Throw an uneven surface into the mix and the E-tron’s understated sense of handling poise deteriorates, its air suspension plainly struggling a bit to contain its mass and maintain some suspension dexterity over mid-corner bumps. Still, for a car of this size and weight, the Audi does a creditable job of feeling wieldy, secure and precise.
If the Millbrook Hill Route were flatter, the E-tron would have emerged from it having given a slightly more convincing account of its dynamic capacities. The car has a fairly strong grip level and laudable lateral body control, both of which aren’t commonly found on two-and-a-half tonne cars. It doesn’t exactly feel keen to turn in, but is still surprisingly precise and nicely stable and obedient mid-corner with it.
There’s enough grip to be quite generous with the torque of those electric motors once you’re beyond the apex of a corner, too. The tuning of the E-tron’s air suspension and adaptive dampers doesn’t keep vertical body movement nearly as tidily controlled as roll, however, and once the car’s considerable mass is disturbed, it is rarely checked with much subtlety. But the car’s stability and traction control systems work well, and aren’t intrusive even under hard driving.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
The E-tron could accurately be described as the first electric car that fully realises the potential of zero-emissions powertrain technology to take the noise out of a luxury cabin, and to put an abiding sense of calm and wellness in its place.
The likes of Tesla and Jaguar have made some progress on that score already – but only when you drive the E-tron do you realise how much untapped progress they left on the table. The car isn’t quite Rolls-Royce quiet, but the fact that, at 70mph, its motorway cabin noise level is closer to that of a Phantom than to a Tesla Model X tells you plenty. Wind noise is particularly well suppressed (and this on a test car that still has standard conventional exterior mirrors), and road noise is likewise kept to a minimum.
And so, thanks to Audi’s wider engineering attention to detail, those attracted to a luxury EV for the relaxing influence it might have on their daily motoring should certainly be pleased with what they find. The car’s comfort level, like its handling composure, is at its best on smooth surfaces.
Try to maintain the sort of pace you can easily adopt on a dual carriageway on a more testing cross-country road and the E-tron finally reveals the mass it’s been concealing, as it runs short on vertical body control without much invitation, and makes occupants a bit uneasy with head toss at times. Standard seats that seem a little bit flat don’t help to contain your backside as much as they might here, although they’re nonetheless comfortable – and betterbolstered sports seats are an option.