The Audi e-tron is Ingolstadt’s first full EV and it’s here to take on Jaguar’s iPace, Mercedes’ EQC and Tesla’s Model Y.
(BMW is yet to confirm it is joining the party with its iX4)
The e-tron SUV and Sportback are the first of a deluge of Audi full electric cars to land. If you’re wondering if it’s a sign of things to come, it is. If you’re wondering if this an affordable start, it’s not. But it’s a start, and that’s the main thing.
Audi is the third legacy carmaker to drop a posh EV and it seems pretty good, at least on paper. With trademark quattro drivetrains, good range and fast-charging along with a comprehensive after-sales package.
How much is an Audi e-tron and what do I get?
The e-tron is available in two body styles and two specs, with a third First Edition trim limited to 70 cars.
What’s more, Audi is offering a comprehensive battery warranty
Audi e-tron SUV and Sportback
50 SUV: $137,700
55 SUV: $146,799
50 Sportback: $147,700
55 Sportback: $157,700
Kicking off at a stout $137,700 for the 50 in SUV form witha ten grand gap to the longer-range 55, Audi hasn’t been shy loading the car up. For this kind of money, it has to.
You get around-view cameras, adaptive drive assist (cruise control with stop and go, lane guidance assist), front and rear parking sensors, 20-inch alloy wheels, power tailgate, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, Milano leather interior, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, interior lighting package, adaptive air suspension and wireless charging.
The Sportback picks up a head up display
Entertainment comes via the 10-speaker stereo with the latest version of MMI, which has a 10.1-inch touchscreen and an 8.6-inch lower screen with handwriting recognition.
You also get Audi Connect Plus with traffic info, parking, weather, car finder, remote lock and unlock, emergency call, roadside assist call function, remote charging, remote climate control and driving data.
e-tron First Edition SUV and Sportback
First Edition SUV: $159,600
First Edition Sportback: $169,950
Seventy First Editions will be available, based on the 55 SUV and Sportback specs. The FE picks up 21-inch wheels, orange brake calipers, black pack, virtual mirrors, Matrix LED headlights, LED puddle lamps, 16-speaker B&O sound, S sport front seats in Valcona leather, four-zone climate control, HUD (SUV), S-Line interior package and colour lighting package. And more leather.
Audi claims a world-first for its optional Virtual Mirrors. Sticking out on stalks out the side of the car, two cameras look down the side of the car, with the image coming up on an OLED screen at the base of the A-pillar. The lenses are heated to help keep them clear and deliver night vision in the dark. Nifty. $3500 of nifty? Up to you.
The Premium Plus package for the SUV comes with 21-inch alloys, Matrix LED headlights, the virtual mirrors, tinting, head-up display, 16-speaker B&O sound, four-zone climate control and a colour interior lighting package. All that costs $9700
On the Sportback you get the same except the HUD is already standard, so the price is $6700.
Warranty and Servicing
One imagines that Audi is offering its usual three-year warranty but there are a number of twists here.
First, the battery warranty stretches for eight years/160,000km as does the free servicing offer. That seems absurdly generous and helps put the starting price into perspective.
Audi says the drivetrain warranty will cover you for a “significant” drop in battery performance.
When you do service your e-tron Audi is intending to give you an e-tron for the day, gratis.
Safety – 5 stars (ANCAP, 2019)
The e-tron has six airbags, ABS, blind-spot monitoring, forward AEB (high and low-speed) with low-speed pedestrian and bicycle detection, pre-sense rear (protects occupants in a rear-ender), rear cross-traffic alert, exit warning, intersection crossing assist,
The 50 delivers 230kW and 540Nm through it’s two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear. That will whisk you to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds.
Moving up to the 55, you get up to 300kW in “boost” mode and 664Nm. The extra grunt knocks 2.1 seconds off the run to 100km/h.
You can tow up to 1800kg with your e-tron, which Audi says is “unlike its competitors. That’ll slam your range, but boys will have their trinkets.
The e-tron’s paddle shifters allow you to choose how strong you want your energy recovery. You get a maximum of 200kW and 300Nm of recovery when you’re braking which Audi says makes up almost a third of the car’s range while “clever thermal management” adds 15 percent.
EV Range and Charging
The e-tron’s floor features a 2.24 metre long, 1.63m wide and 34cm high lithium-ion battery pack. It weighs a whopping 700kg, almost a third of the 50’s 2455kg kerb weight and the 55’s 2555kg figure.
The 55’s battery stores up to 95kWh for a WLTP range of “over” 400km.
Stepping down to the 50, storage drops to 71kWh for a range in excess of 300km (WLTP). In my experience, WLTP is pretty close to reality, so these figures are encouraging.
Cleverly, the e-tron has charge ports on both sides of the car. The driver’s side has an AC port while the passenger scores AC and DC.
The larger battery is made up of 36 battery modules, with the 50 having 9 fewer. Interestingly, Audi will replace a buggered module rather than the whole battery, which is good for you and, probably, for them (at least in warranty period).
Home AC charging is obviously slow, with the 50 taking six hours and the 55 eight and a half. It’s worth knowing that you get an 11kW wallbox – which the portable charge clips into – but you’re up for the installation.
If memory serves, to get 11kW, you need three-phase power. If you don’t have that, you’ll be limited to much slower charging, so expect to double your charge times. Three-phase power is something your electrician can hook up and it’s also good if you have (or plan for) a 10kWh+ solar array.
The e-tron will cop up to 150kW DC charging and with one of those bad boys you’ll get an 855 charge in under 30 minutes with a full charge in 45 minutes.
Audi says its charging is better because it can hold a higher current charge for longer making for quicker rapid charge times.
Chargefox – six years/unlimited km*
Your e-tron purchase includes six years of unlimited charging with Chargefox. They have 500 public chargers, ranging from 22kW through 50kW and up to 350kW. Well, that last one is just in Euroa, but they’re promising more.
While the charging is unlimited, the eminently sensible Chargefox Fair Use Policy applies.
Look and Feel
Look, it’s an Audi but thankfully it’s normal looking. I think that will play really well with Audi fans as well as more cautious, but forward-thinking, buyers. It’s a much better looking car than any Tesla and I think more elegant than the EQC.
The big front grille is louvred for aero efficiency. When the car is at its lowest setting and the louvres closed, the drag coefficient is just 0.27, important when you’re on the highway because it helps the range and it’s quiet. The flat underbody helps a lot here, with what Audi says are golf ball divots to ease airflow.
The cabin has a flat floor and Audi says it’s big enough for five real people. The boot certainly is, with a massive 660 litres in the SUV and 615 in the Sportback across two boots, one up front and behind.
I have to say, I quite like the Sportback design, but both look good. The black pack looks nice, too, so if you can, do.
You can order online from 19th June 2020, with deliveries in September, contact-free if you wish. A small number of Audi dealers will look after you if you prefer face-to-face car-buying.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.