Electric cars are here to stay whether enthusiasts like it or not. Sure, the adoption is going to take time and the infrastructure will slowly build towards it. But, one cannot deny the change and turn their backs on it. Luxury carmakers have started bringing in their EV offerings from abroad via the CBU route. This ensures that the wealthy consumers can test the technology out before it trickles down to the common man. Mercedes and Jaguar have recently launched their EV SUVs and now it’s time for Audi to show what their E-Tron is capable of.
Based on the Q5 platform, the E-Tron will go up against the Mercedes EQS and the Jaguar I-Pace. Let’s take a look at how it fares!
The exterior of the E-tron is unmistakably Audi with some elements added to set it apart from its internal combustion siblings. The front gets a large chrome grille with the iconic four rings in the middle. The grille is flanked by the signature Audi Matrix headlamps.
These headlamps get dynamic turn indicators and a ton of assistance features like anti-dazzle function and lane light function which illuminates the lane that you are driving in. The side gets silver roof rails with 20-inch alloy wheels shod with premium tyres. The rear gets LED tail lamps that runs across the entire boot. The SUV gets a lot of horizontal elements here and there which indicates that it is an EV in Audi’s language. The front fenders get charging ports on both sides for added convenience.
Overall, Audi has tried to keep the design similar to a conventional car so that the customers don’t find it to be too radical like some of the EVs.
Open the soft-close function doors and you are greeted with a whole host of premium materials and a dash of ambient lighting everywhere. You get snug leather seats which come with all kinds of electric adjustments and memory function. There is plenty of place around the cabin to store the knick-knacks and even a wireless charging slot to park your phone in. In true Audi fashion, the interior is packed with innovative features.
For example, the unique lever to select drive or reverse and the combination of two high definition screens which show multimedia and climate control information respectively. The MMI system is crisp and features an excellent 360-degree camera which aids in manoeuvring this big SUV. You also get a Bang and Olufsen 16 speaker system, Audi’s class-leading virtual cockpit, panoramic sunroof, head-up display and electric adjustment for the steering wheel to name a few.
The rear seat has healthy headroom and legroom for passengers and Audi has thrown in a few convenience features to make it a better place for them such as sunshades and two-zone climate control. The electric tailgate can be opened by swiping your foot below the rear bumper which opens up to a spacious 660 litres of space.
The seats can further be folded in a 40:20:40 configuration which then expands the space to a humongous 1725 litres. Since the E-Tron is an EV, you also get space in the bonnet for storage.
Before we get to the driving part, let’s get some numbers out of the way. The E-Tron 55 gets a 95kWh battery pack which supplies energy to two motors attached to each axle. It produces 408 hp and 664nm of torque in its sportiest setting. It weighs 2.6 tonnes and can propel to 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds while maxing out at 200km/h. You get an option of both AC and DC charging.
A 11kWh AC charging will 8.5 hours to 80% and a 22 kWh AC charging will take you 4.5 hours to 80%. If you have an option of a public DC charger, you can charge the E-Tron to 80% between 2 hours and just 30 minutes with chargers in the range of 50 kWh to 150kWh rating. Finally, the claimed range for the E-Tron is around 359 km-484 km which would heavily depend on your driving style, external conditions and usage of the climate control. The range however, is much more than the conventional EVs and it’s enough to do trips like Mumbai to Pune. The power delivery is instantaneous since there are no gears involved and the 408hp can shove you back in the seat when accelerating hard. What’s ironical though is that the SUV doesn’t get a sports mode and you can only unleash the 408 hp when the selector is put in sports instead of drive. Audi has added paddle shifters for selecting the intensity of brake regeneration which adds to the range.
The E-Tron is a heavy SUV but it is still considerably agile on its feet thanks to the E-Quattro all-wheel-drive system and the air suspension. The steering could do with a bit more of feel but otherwise, it is good at taking corners for a 2.6 tonne SUV. The ground clearance is enough but due to the battery pack on the floor of the chassis, it is still prone to scraping its belly.
The air suspensions come to the rescue here with its off-road mode which raises the suspension enough to tackle our bad roads. The E-Tron is refined with controlled NVH and the suspension dismisses most of what the Indian roads throw at you. Overall, it has a comfortable ride and this could even make it a good contender for being chauffeured around in.
The E-Tron prices haven’t been revealed yet but we suspect it to be priced around the ₹1-1.10 crore mark which is similar to its competition. Compared to the Mercedes EQS and the Jaguar I-Pace, it comes off as an all rounder EV which wouldn’t overwhelm you with its ‘EV-ness’ as Audi has tried to keep the SUV close to a conventional one in terms of its attributes. Sure this might not find many takers due to its price but it is great for adopting the technology and infrastructure for the many EVs to come.