Electric cars are becoming more and more commonplace these days. Many have futuristic styling, much like the BMW i-series, but rival brand AUdi has instead opted for something a little more conservative for its maiden electric offering. The Audi e-tron is, like many electric cars, an SUV, set to rival the likes of the Tesla Model X, Mercedes EQC, and the Jaguar I-Pace.
While it may not posses a traditional drivetrain, the e-tron is instantly recognisable as an Audi. It's big, too, measuring at 4.9 metres long, 1.93m wide, and 1.61m tall, its in the same ballpark size-wise as Audi's other two big SUVs – the Q7 and the Q8. From the SUV/coupé (and from the sisters A8 and A7) the e-tron picks up a thin LED line at the rear, while the front is dominated by the classic single frame grille, although without an internal combustion engine, it doesn't take in any air to cool the engine – because like we said, their isn't one. While the faux grille is a familiar face, the front lights are new, even more narrow and with a small protuberance in the lower part. The rear-view mirrors are also new, or rather what's in their place. Goodbye to plastic shells and mirrors and welcome to a pair of high-definition cameras, whose images are projected onto as many internal monitors.
Two by four
While the car may not make much of a racket, you'll certainly be able to feel it shift thanks to a pair of electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear for permanent four-wheel-drive. They combine for a total of 360 bhp, 408 bhp with overboost, and 487 lb-ft of torque which is available immediately. All of that allows the e-tron to do 0-62 in less than six seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 124 mph. What's more, it has a range of just under 250 mileson a single charge thanks to a95 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is located entirely under the floor, so as not to hamper cockpit space and lower the centre of gravity.
Fast to charge
The Audi e-tron can recharge to 80 percent of its capacity in about 30 minutes provided using a 150 kW fast charger like those from Ionity, a joint venture between Audi, Porsche, Ford, BMW Group and Daimler. The company plans to open 200 charging stations by 2018, and 400 by the end of 2020, with none more than 75 miles away from each other. Naturally, normal AC power lines can be used to charge the e-tron too. A standard 11 kW cable will charge the car fully in eight and a half hours.
You drive with a single pedal
'One pedal driving' is the future. Gone is the brake pedal, with the engine braking handling the stopping, much like a dodgem. On the Audi e-tron when the deceleration is less than 0.3 g (ie 90 percent of the cases) the electric motors act as a brake, thus recharging the battery up to 30 percent of its capacity. The intensity of regenerative braking can vary by acting on the steering wheel paddles, going from 0 (zero) to 2 (maximum). In the remaining 10 percent of cases the car relies on the normal braking system.
More and more monitors
Inside the Audi e-tron the environment is typical of the latest additions to the Four Rings stable, but with even more space thanks to the absence of the classic mechanical elements of a traditional car. Load capacity ranges from a minimum of 660 litres to a maximum of 1,725 litres. Materials and finishes are of course premium, and there are inserts in orange, the colour of the e-tron brand, scattered here and there.
The dashboard has a trio of monitors – one for the instrumentation and two for infotainment – are flanked, for the first time, by two other screens on the door panels which show the images of the cameras that take the place of the rear-view mirrors.
The origin of the species
The e-tron is just the first step of Audi's journey into the world of electrification. Many other models will follow. There will be, for example, the e-tron GT , saloon/coupe coming up in 2020 and developed on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan. Then there will be another 20 electrified models, which Audi hopes will represent a third of the company's sales in the coming years.