You could say Audi has been teasing the E-Tron since September 2015 when the namesake concept debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now, nearly three years later, the production version is still a no-show, but at least today we’re finally able to have a look inside the cabin of the road-going model. Bear in mind Audi refers to this vehicle as a prototype, but expect the production version to be virtually the same and feature air suspension as standard.
And speaking of “virtually,” gone are the conventional side mirrors since these have been replaced by cameras for what Audi describes as being virtual mirrors. Those were initially shown at the end of May, but now we get to see the other important component of the equipment – the small screens mounted on the top-right corner of the door panel.
It will probably take a little bit of time getting used to the seven-inch OLED screens positioned right below the windows, but these will bring some advantages over conventional mirrors. The driver will be able to zoom in and out, as well as select from one of the three pre-programmed settings that will adjust the virtual mirrors for parking, turning, and for motorway driving. It goes without saying blind spot functionality has been incorporated in these digital displays.
The OLED pair has increased the number of screens to five if we include the fully digital instrument cluster, the infotainment system, and the touchscreen mounted lower on the centre console for the climate control settings as seen in high-end Audis like the A8, Q8, A7, and A6.
At the heart of the Audi E-Tron will be a pair of electric motors providing a combined output of 355 brake horsepower for a sprint to 62 mph in less than 6 seconds and a top speed of about 124 mph. Using the automatic transmission selector to enable Sport mode will offer a temporary maximum power of 402 bhp.
The Belgium-built electric crossover will rely on a 95-kWh battery with enough juice for approximately 248.5 miles in the WLTP cycle, which will be possible partly thanks to the E-Tron’s aerodynamic body with a drag coefficient of just 0.28. The low Cd number was achieved by replacing the bulky mirrors with the tiny cameras, thus making the vehicle narrower by 15 centimetres. These virtual mirrors will be offered as optional equipment, but won’t be legal all over the world. However, Audi mentions it’s in talks with the right people to make them legal globally.
Getting back to the batteries, using a 150-kW high-voltage charger will 'fill up' the pack in just 30 minutes while with a 400-volt three-phase outlet it will take approximately 8 hours and 30 minutes.
The interior cabin will provide a generous amount of space for five occupants thanks to a long wheelbase stretching at 2,928 millimetres. Being an EV, it means there’s no centre tunnel, so rear passengers get to enjoy more legroom compared to a conventionally powered vehicle. On the entertainment front, there will be an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system with 16 loudspeakers and an amplifier pumping out 705 watts of power.
As a final note, the E-Tron was supposed to debut on August 30 in Brussels, but company CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested, forcing Audi to postpone the official premiere. It’s not known at this point when the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQ C rival will be revealed, but the event is expected to take place in the United States later this year. Market launch won’t be affected by this setback, so customer deliveries are still on track for early 2019. A sleeker E-Tron Sportback will arrive before the end of the decade and will also be built in Brussels, with a stylish E-Tron GT to be launched later and produced in Germany.
Gallery: Audi E-Tron in Copenhagen
Chill out: Audi e-tron prototype alone on the big stage
- Premium-class comfort: elegant interior design and lots of room
- Digitalization in a new form: optional virtual exterior mirrors
- Setting the tone: electric drive for first-class acoustics and superb sound experience
Driver and passengers experience their surroundings in a whole new dimension in the Audi e-tron prototype. In addition to its generous space and the stylishly reduced design, Audi’s first electric car offers a high level of calm and, in turn, the perfect stage for the Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System. The full-size SUV also provides a new digital operating and display experience. It is the first volume-production car with virtual exterior mirrors.