Why should i buy it?
- Immediate performance
- Pleasant ride quality
Why should i avoid it?
- Lazy handling
- loading time
Engine and power
Engine? There is no such thing here. The heart of the e-tron is a 95 kWh battery that is mounted under the pillion seat. It feeds two electric motors (one per axle), which together deliver up to 300 kW of power, which corresponds to 408 hp / 664 Nm. Well, logic dictates that Audi would be better off with a single large engine, but this dual-engine setup not only contributes to better weight distribution, but most importantly, it allows the brand to use their quattro all-wheel drive in these electric SUVs to integrate. Normally, the e-tron drives itself via its rear electric motor and only when the driver’s right foot demands more power than it can deliver does the all-wheel drive distribute the torque to the front axle.
The e-tron has a theoretical range of up to 400 km when fully charged. This of course depends on several factors such as driving style and traffic conditions. According to Audi, the car’s regeneration system accounts for up to 30 percent of the total range. Basically, the e-tron regenerates energy back into the battery every time the driver brakes or takes off the accelerator. In both cases, the electric motors act as a generator and convert the kinetic energy of the e-tron into electrical energy in order to bring more charge into the battery. It is interesting that the driver can adjust the extent of regeneration using the paddles on the steering wheel. In the highest regeneration level, the e-tron brakes and quickly comes to a stop as soon as you release the accelerator. Ideally, you can only drive the e-tron in traffic with the accelerator, which is a bit bizarre.
Our short stay with the e-tron took us from the heart of Mumbai West or Andheri through traffic to the outskirts of Navi Mumbai and back. It was almost the ideal scenario for testing the car’s performance and range in different traffic conditions. Speaking of the driving experience: you start by pressing the start / stop button and that’s it. No engine that doesn’t crank anything. It takes getting used to the fact that there is no noise or vibration before you put the gearshift lever in Drive and start driving. This is where the fun begins, because in typical EV fashion, the e-tron reacts like a resolute athlete as soon as you press the accelerator pedal and accelerates sharply compared to all other vehicles around you. With over 400 hp and an instantaneous torque of 664 Nm under the right foot, the e-tron is fast and can easily put you back in your seat at full acceleration. Speaking of which, we managed to buckle our timing gears on the go and the results have been pretty impressive. 0-60 km / h takes only 2.88 seconds and you need a full 5.35 seconds to reach 100 km / h from a standstill. The e-tron is phenomenally fast even when it is inserted and only needs 3.53 seconds to run from 40 to 100 km / h.
In terms of range, we covered almost 200 km during the test, exposing the e-tron to both quiet and hard rides. In the end, we still had a range of around 130 km, but our conclusion on the actual range will have to wait until we carry out proper tests with a few drives on the motorway.
Ride and handling
The starting and starting process of the e-tron may be strange to some, but the way this electric SUV drives and handles is nothing out of the ordinary. Dynamically, the e-tron feels like an Audi through and through – everything from the steering feel to control of the body is similar to that of a Q7. Sure, it can’t shift its mass quite as smoothly as other full-size SUVs, but it’s not bad at all for everyday use. This is mainly thanks to the adaptive air suspension of the e-tron, which does an excellent job of providing a correspondingly pleasant driving experience in comfort and safe, planted handling in dynamic.
The adaptive chassis also allows the driver to increase the ride height while driving. This not only reduces the risk of underbody scratches, but above all protects the battery. As for ride quality, the e-tron is like any gasoline / diesel luxury SUV when it comes to stifling the harshness of bumps and potholes. There’s no underlying stiffness, and for something that weighs over 2.5 tons, there isn’t much side-to-side movement even on bumps.
Interior space and comfort
As with most of the new Audi flagships, the appearance and attractiveness of the interior are dominated by the two large touchscreen displays – one for the infotainment system and the lower secondary unit for air conditioning. Granted, the screens look brilliant especially at night, but they’re also great fingerprint magnets. The rest of the cabin is typically Audi, which means that everything you touch or operate has a premium feel, right down to the wiper / turn signal levers and the controls for the exterior mirrors.
The e-tron sits between the Q5 and Q7, so it’s not like you’re feeling short of space. The dimensions of the car are quite large indeed, resulting in an airy, comfortable cabin. The front seats are large and supportive, and because the e-tron is so wide, the seats are far apart. Here, too, there is plenty of leg and shoulder room in the rear and the back seat is well padded all round. What’s not so good are the relatively small windows, which could make three seats side by side a little claustrophobic. The lack of a transmission tunnel luckily creates more legroom for the middle passenger, but knee room is still compromised thanks to the penetrating climate control unit for the rear.
Features and equipment
The e-tron 55 quattro in India version has a panoramic sliding roof, matrix LED headlights, gently closing doors, Audi’s virtual cockpit (digital instrument cluster), ambient lighting, wireless charging, Bang and Olufsen sound system with 16 speakers, four Zone climate control and a heads-up display. In some markets, the e-tron also gets virtual mirrors, which are basically cameras instead of exterior mirrors that project the images onto dedicated screens on the front doors.
The e-tron also comes with a 22 kW AC charger, but what is really practical is that Audi has placed charging points on both sides of the e-tron. There’s an AC / DC connector on the driver’s side and an AC connector on the other to make charging so much easier when you just want to plug it into your household power supply in both directions. Connected to the standard compact mobile charging system, the battery is charged to 80 percent in four and a half hours. Meanwhile, an 11kW AC home charger can fully charge the e-tron in eight and a half hours.
Audi’s first production electric vehicle is a compelling buy, whether you’re looking for a luxury SUV or an all-electric vehicle. It’s faster than most SUVs in its class, and it feels and drives like a conventional luxury vehicle, which is probably the most impressive thing about it. Together with the comfortable street manners, the solid build quality and a theoretical range of over 350 km, it makes a convincing electric car to life. Now it’s up to Audi India and how well they price the e-tron. From today’s perspective, the Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace cost around Rs 1.30 crore on the road, and if Audi can undercut both, the e-tron definitely deserves a spot at the top of your luxury EV considerations list.
Audi India has announced that the e-tron will be launched on July 22, 2021, so stay tuned.
Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi