Audi e-tron Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Audi e-tron.
Car Tested: Audi e-tron 55 Quattro; Road Test No. 1323; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1.50 crore (est.)
Charming looks, superb performance and dynamics combined with a tech-loaded cabin make the e-tron a great luxury sporty EV
It was a bright Monday morning, the skies had cleared up after a rather gloomy weekend and before people woke up from their slumber, there was a silent hunter roaming on the streets of Mumbai. The silent hunter’s name is e-tron because it comes straight out of a sci-fi movie and it moves around pretty fast. But, the hunter doesn’t make any noise at all. It is big and it is fast enough to eat other cars for breakfast and yet it does everything without a commotion.
MotorQuest – The Audi e-tron is based on the MLB platform which underpins quite a few SUVs from the Volkswagen Group. The 95 kWh battery consists of 4323 cells in 96 different modules. The battery pack is around 7 feet long and it weighs almost 750 kgs! With so much weight concentrated around the bottom portion of the car, the e-tron has a very low centre of gravity.
Exteriors – The Audi e-tron looks fabulous, to say the least, and our test car came in this bright Catalunya Red colour which looks too good and also grabs way too much attention on our roads. The e-tron was a show-stopper totally and throughout the day the car got tons of glances, stares and thumbs-ups from people of various age groups on the road. I even noticed the odd citizen taking pictures of the car while in a traffic jam.
The e-tron’s futuristic design language, combined with its vivid paint job, immediately drew notice
Audi has quite nailed the design of this car because it looks so proportionate, yet it has a nice mixture of sportiness and luxury to it. The vehicle gets Matrix LED headlamps with a lane follow feature that basically throws the beam of the light in the direction the road is turning, to aid better visibility. Along with this, there are these smashing tail lights with a full LED strip running across the width of the car. The e-tron comes with 205/55/20 tyres and the styling of the wheels is quite nice as well. The vehicle comes with charging ports on both the front fenders and you can just open or shut the flaps at the press of a button.
Interiors – The Audi e-tron’s cabin has a very neat layout and there are very few buttons on the dashboard and centre console. The very first thing to catch your eye when you open the door would be the large slabs of glass on the centre console because this car gets not one, not two but three screens! The first screen is for the instrument cluster which Audi likes to call Virtual Cockpit. The display is clear and you can toggle through different views and functions using the controls on the steering. The Virtual Cockpit also has this nice navigation view that covers almost the entire width of the screen and that means you don’t have to look at the infotainment system every now and then. The e-tron also has a HUD.
The e-tron sports three large screens to control everything while Audi’s virtual cockpit offers immense personalization
The infotainment system also gets a large touchscreen and all the menus are neatly stacked. Apart from the usual media and telephone functions, you can access a whole lot of settings related to the car and play around with different stuff like the ambient lights, parking camera views, drive modes, etc. The vehicle gets a 16-speaker audio system from Bang & Olufsen with an output of 705W and the sound quality is brilliant with a very good amount of thump. The screen is also very responsive and has a high resolution.
The bottom part of the centre console comes with the third screen which is basically for the climate control system. Now, the e-tron gets a 4-zone climate control which means you can set 4 different temperature and AC settings according to what every passenger likes. I found the cooling to be slightly underwhelming when the car was parked in the heat for a bit long. Apart from the AC functions, you get a couple of buttons below this screen and one is for the Audi Drive Select while the other button is for the parking camera. The start/stop button is also located in this area. The parking camera is another cool party trick on this car because you not only get a clear view of what’s ahead and behind but this also has a 3D view function which basically projects an image of the car on the surface using multiple cameras and you can zoom in and out and even rotate the car 360-degrees. One thing to note is that both the infotainment and AC screens have haptic touch which means nothing happens with a light press on the screen and you need to press a bit hard, this is somewhat similar to the 3D Touch function on Apple iPhones.
The e-tron gets a 16-speaker audio system from Bang & Olufsen, a 4-zone climate control system and a slew of other cutting-edge features
The driving position is quite good and you do feel the width of the car which is considerable. The front seats are quite nice in terms of support and the seatback is very comfortable and even the headrests are big in size. However, the squab could have been longer by a few mm.
The rear seat is actually a pretty nice place to be in as well. Knee room is good even with the front seats pushed back for a tall person’s seating position and headroom is abundant too. Two people at the rear can travel very comfortably while the middle passenger could be a tight fit. You do get three adjustable rear headrests and proper AC controls (2 zones at the rear). The car is equipped with multiple USB Type-C ports and a couple of 12V charging points but no regular USB ports are available anywhere. The boot is quite large too and gets a capacity of 660-litres which can be increased to 1725-litres by folding away the rear seats (60:40 split). In the boot, you get a net on both the sides to keep smaller stuff and there are levers on both the sides too to fold the rear seats. The Audi e-tron comes with a space-saver spare tyre.
Performance – We drove the Audi e-tron 55 quattro and this one comes powered by a 95 kWh battery which powers two electric motors, one at the front and the other at the rear. The combined power output is 355 HP and 561 Nm while in Boost mode you get 402 HP and 664 Nm. Boost mode is available for around 8 seconds when you drive the car in Dynamic and with the accelerator completely pinned. Driving an EV feels quite different initially because after driving so many ICE cars every day, there are no vibrations, rattles, engine noises here. Everything is so silent and eerie and the same is the case with the e-tron too.
The refinement and quietness of an EV is surreal and so is the acceleration thanks to the instant torque
It moves in a very stealthy manner and gains pace too quickly as well. The motors feel very responsive and driveability in the city is brilliant. If you’re starting from idle or from a signal, there’s no creep mode as such and the car doesn’t start moving even after you let go off the brake pedal. Tap the throttle slightly and the car will start moving very smoothly. Everything feels very nicely under control and even the accelerator pedal has a nice heft to it. Go hard on the throttle and this silent hunter hesitates for a second and then leaps away into the horizon, this is sportscar-like performance!
The Audi e-tron does get different modes like Allroad, Off-road, Individual, Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency and the driving feel changes significantly in all the modes. Dynamic feels extremely responsive and the car delivers stupendous performance while in Efficiency mode it drives in a rather relaxed manner and this is the mode I used in Mumbai’s heavy evening traffic with the range hovering around 100 kms. The Audi e-tron has a claimed range of 355-489 kms under the WLTP cycle but honestly, I think the car will run for about 300-350 kms before requiring a charge because we have very mixed and inconsistent driving conditions here.
The e-tron has a claimed range of 355-489 kms, however, in real-world conditions one can expect anywhere between 300-350 kms
Initially, it takes some time to modulate the throttle and brakes when you start off but you get used to it very quickly. The vehicle comes with an 11 kW charger which is placed in the frunk and you can get the car from 0-80% in about 8.5 hours with this one. A 22 kW charger would take 4.5 hours for the same while a bigger DC fast charger can do the same in about 1.9 hours. The e-tron also gets three levels of recuperation and you get paddle-shifters for the same. You can properly decrease speeds using the shifters and almost bring the car to a halt. This also helps regenerate some of the kinetic energy to electrical energy. The e-tron has a claimed 0-100 km/hr time of 5.7 seconds in Boost mode and 6.6 seconds otherwise but in our VBOX tests, we managed 7.36 seconds in Efficiency mode, 7.12 seconds in Comfort mode and 5.76 seconds in Dynamic mode.
Driving Dynamics – The Audi e-tron drives just like any other ICE luxury car and that’s a good thing. The handling is very predictable and the steering is meaty and feels a bit heavy at speeds too. It feels light enough in the Comfort and Efficiency modes at city speeds but otherwise, it feels assisted. At higher speeds, the steering is responsive and the e-tron turns into corners nicely. Yes, there is body roll but it has been kept under control. Yes, EVs can be fun to drive!
Even on the worst of road conditions, the e-tron boasts of a sublime and plush ride quality
The suspension is another USP of the e-tron. It offers a very plush ride and the large tyres also do their part in taking potholes with stride. Over broken roads, the ride doesn’t feel discomforting and you can easily glide over potholes without worrying too much. As I mentioned before, the EV gets driving modes and you can even raise or lower the car’s suspension and this is useful on our roads because you unexpectedly find puddles, uneven craters and poorly-designed speed-breakers on every second street. Just raise the car and protect the battery pack and this also helps prevent any sort of underbody scrapping.
After Sales Service – Audi has been around in India for more than a decade so the automaker does have a presence in major areas of the country. Being a premium EV, spare parts are bound to be on the pricier side and honestly, none of us has seen how EVs (not just this but every) perform in the long run so it would be wise to opt for the highest possible warranty coverage offered by the automaker.
Verdict – The Audi e-tron is a cracker for sure. It looks the part, has good tech and drives quite well. This electric car can be loads of fun and yet very practical and it will rival the Mercedes EQC and the Jaguar I-Pace. Should you buy the e-tron over a regular ICE luxury car? Now, if you’re considering buying such an expensive car means that you probably already have a few petrol/diesel cars in the garage anyway and owning this would be a different kind of experience. Also, you get bragging rights with those green number plates which can be great conversation starters at the golf club!
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Alternatives – Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace