It's been teased for what feels like forever. But, finally, Audi's all-electric SUV, the e-tron, is here. No camoflauge, no gimmicks, just the on-the-road car in all its design glory.
Ahead of its late 2019 launch, we got to witness the official unveiling of the e-tron at the Audi Brand Summit in San Francisco, California. Here's why Audi is onto a winner.
Design and Competition
- All-electric SUV is the company's first all-electric vehicle
- 95kWh battery with rapid charge (80 per cent in 30mins)
- 0-62mpg in 6.2 seconds; 5.7 seconds with Boost mode
- Expected 400km/250 mile range per charge
- Familiar Audi design language, signature e-tron lights
It's 2018 and, yes, there are a fair number of electric vehicles out there. But so many of them are boring. Or not capable enough when it comes to range. Or just plain dull when it comes to design and desirability.
The e-tron is all about being an attractive, quality SUV. It just happens to be all-electric in its delivery. And the only other cars like that right now are the Jaguar i-Pace and various Tesla models (the latter brand being pricier, thus making the Audi an even more tempting option).
As we said up top, we've long seen the e-tron in testing, covered in its black, white and red camouflage finish to distract from its true on-the-road looks. No longer: the San Francisco reveal, in its fetching coat of blue paint, shows this striking all-electric.
The design language is familiar modern Audi, but with a few twists to the formula. As there's no huge engine under the bonnet, the front overhang of this long-wheelbase SUV is rather squat, but the large wheels deliver a strong stance. Side-on, the shoulder 'muscles' are more clear to see without that camo distracting.
The front bares those aggressive looking headlamps, combined with segmented e-tron lights, in strips of four, for an iconic look. The rear strip light to the rear repeats a similar look above and below the line, too.
Under this exterior are two electric motors, delivering a combined 265kW/365hp of power. That means 0-100km/62mph in 6.2 seconds, or 5.7 seconds when slipping the gearshift into boost mode (well, it's Sport mode really).
With a 95kWh battery capacity and a fastest-in-market 150kW rapid charge feature (with the right terminal, and there won't be loads at launch) means a 400km/250 mile range and rapid top-ups from 0-80 per cent in just 30 minutes. That's mighty impressive. At-home charging from a wall box or socket is also possible, albeit at a much slower pace.
Interior and Tech
- Virtual Mirrors: Camera-based wing mirrors display on OLED panels interior
- Black Panel Technology wrap-around OLED touchscreens with haptic feedback
- Riffs on the interior of the A8 and Q8, focused on driver-centric positioning
Inside, the e-tron is a raft of modern luxury, taking a page out of the Audi A8 and Q8's books when it comes to embedded tech. The driver's seat is like a cockpit surrounded by blacked-out screens, which spring into life when entering the car (we would say 'firing it up', but that hardly rings true here, eh?).
From Audi Virtual Cockpit driver display cluster, to the multi-screen Black Panel Technology, there's a huge variety of touch controls. It looks great, just as we said of the A8, but using it when on the go isn't likely to always be practical - a few extra physical buttons and dials wouldn't go amiss, really, even if they don't look as futuristic.
One thing that is very futuristic, however, are the e-tron's Virtual Mirrors. Yep, there aren't conventional wing mirrors here (well, that's semi true as these are an option, not a standard feature, as you can see from our photos - we did see a second car with these virtual mirrors, though). Instead two internal OLED screens display customisable rear/side display as taken from small cameras. As these are far smaller, the exterior design benefits from a more complete, less interrupted flow too. It's a great idea, one that we wonder how long it'll take us to get used to.
Price and Availability
- Available in Europe from 2018, US early 2019
- £/$1000 deposit for pre-orders
- OTR price from £70,800
The biggest question on everyone's lips: just how much does the e-tron cost? The starting price will be £70,800/$74,800, increasing with various options.
That sees Audi's option as slightly pricier than the Jaguar i-Pace. But with the tech on board as standard, and more space within the cabin, that extra £8k seems logical.
If you're keen to get on the waitlist then a £/$1000 down will secure your spot for the late 2018/early 2019 release.