Audi goes electric

with e-tron

Audi e-tron, 2019, side, desert, action
Audi e-tron, 2019, front, action
Audi e-tron, 2019, front, desert, action
Audi e-tron, 2019, nose
Audi e-tron, 2019, side, action
Audi e-tron, 2019, rear, action
Audi e-tron, 2019, front, desert
Audi e-tron, 2019, side, desert
Audi e-tron, 2019, rear, desert
Audi e-tron, 2019, interior
Audi e-tron, 2019, door mirror, housing
Audi e-tron, 2019, door mirror, passenger screen
Audi e-tron, 2019, dashboard
Audi e-tron, 2019, charging point
Audi e-tron, 2019, rear seats
Audi e-tron, 2019, boot
Audi e-tron, 2019, badge
Audi e-tron, 2019, battery pack, cutaway

WITH a name that would be at home in an episode of Dr Who, Audi is joining the electric age by launching the e-tron.

It's a zero emission SUV that is out to rival the likes of the Jaguar I-PACE and it will be on the road next year.

And the e-tron is packed with innovation including the world's first application of rearward facing cameras to replace the door mirrors.

They work by projecting what's going on at the side of the car onto two LED screens positioned at the top of the front doors and are standard fit on the Launch Edition of the e-tron.

Other high tech features on the e-tron include anti-dazzle matrix LED headlights, a 360 degree camera and Audi's advanced cruise control and semi-autonomous driver assistance systems.

The e-tron is the first all-electric car from Audi and it is built in Brussels which will become home to the German premium brand's EV programme.

It will be priced from £71,490 before the Government's current £3,500 grant for EVs - that's some £2,000 more than the I-PACE but £11,000 cheaper than Tesla's SUV.

Launch Edition models will cost from £82,290 and for early adopters Audi will be offering a limited run of just 30 Edition One e-trons which come with even more kit at £89,490.

Like the Jaguar, the e-tron is powered by two electric motors - one on each axle - which deliver Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive complete with some off-road ability.

It's a big car - only just shy of Audi's king-sized Q7 and Q8 SUVs - and weighs in at almost 2.5 tonnes, 700 kilos of which is made up of the 95kWh battery pack bolted to the underside.

Total power output is 408ps which is enough to give the e-tron a 0 to 60 time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.

If needs be it can be a very lively performer and there are seven drive modes available offering everything from off-road to economy and sporty settings.

There are just two gears - forward and reverse - and those are selected via a fancy looking lever in the centre console.

Paddle shifters are fitted on the steering wheel but those control the level of battery regeneration under braking.

They are effective too and on our runs in the e-tron managed to add some seven miles to the range on a four mile downward stretch.

Audi is claiming a full charge range of 248.5 miles for the e-tron under the new WLTP testing programme and if our experience is anything to go by around 200 miles appeared to be easily achievable.

The e-tron is also the first EV to be capable of using 150kw fast chargers meaning it can replenish 80 per cent of battery power in 30 minutes - and there are charging points on either side of the vehicle.

Realistically the e-tron performs in similar fashion to the I-PACE - although on paper the Jaguar beats the e-tron in both range and performance - but the Audi feels the better car.

Air suspension and an impressive amount of sound insulation make the e-tron almost totally silent on the road.

It's a proper five seater and boot space runs from 605 to 1,755 litres with an extra backpack of space available in an under-bonnet compartment.

Onboard, the e-tron is almost completely digitised with Audi's double display screen in the centre of the dash and a ‘virtual cockpit' 12.3-inch instrument panel for the driver.

The cars we tried also came with a full colour head-up display - as well as orange brake callipers matching the colour Audi is using in the e-tron badges on the front wings.

On the road the e-tron is great to drive and supremely well composed on all surfaces - and that goes for harsh terrain as well.

It feels - and is - big and solid and more robust than either the Jaguar or the Tesla.

The suspension copes excellently and can alter ride height by more than three inches depending on conditions.

However, the jury is out on the virtual door mirrors and although they are as adjustable as a conventional set up I could not get a completely convenient view - and that's an issue in traffic.

The positioning of the screen was fine on the passenger side but was too low for my liking on the driver's side.

Whether that would change as familiarity crept in remains to be seen and while they may have advantages when it comes to aerodynamics, they are more a gimmick - although optional on basic models which come with regular mirrors.

Nevertheless, a talking point they will be and while the virtual system is good for bragging rights only time well tell if they will become the norm.

That apart, the e-tron is a very impressive offering and Audi is very serious about its electric plans.

An e-tron GT was revealed in concept form at the recent Los Angeles auto show and an e-tron Sportback is already slated to go into production next year after the SUV arrives in March.

In total there are some 12 Audi EVs in the pipeline by 2025 and those will encompass every type of car from compacts to luxury models.

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