What happens when a legacy automaker tries something new? In Audi’s case, everyone was genuinely excited when it showcased its electric SUV prototype at Geneva Motor Show 2018. Masses were even more excited when Audi put the model into production in early September this year. Upon the debut of this car, christened e-tron, even the harshest Audi critics took note. Audi is a part of one of the world’s biggest auto groups – VW Group. Anything it does has likely been adapted and used by the group’s other brands, be it VW or Lamborghini (like the Virtual Cockpit). e-tron’s arrival meant that VW Group’s electric car offense has begun. Can the Audi e-tron be the vehicle to steal the thunder from Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC, and most importantly, the Tesla Model X?
|Price||US $74,800 (approx Rs 54.33 lakh)|
|Engine||Dual asynchronous motors (one front, one rear) with 95kWh battery pack|
|Front Suspension||Multi-link with adaptive air dampers|
|Rear Suspension||Multi-link with adaptive air dampers|
|Front Brake||400mm discs|
|Rear Brake||350mm discs|
|Width||2,192mm (without mirrors)|
|Charge time||Approx 9 hours with 9.6kW AC charger (0-80 per cent charge in 30 minutes with 150kW DC charger)|
What’s new about the Audi e-tron?
First off, calling the Audi e-tron an SUV doesn’t feel right. The photos reveal the car to not be quite high off the ground like a ladder-frame SUV. In that sense, it is more a crossover than an SUV. However, it has all the traits of an Audi, as far as looks and design go (don’t have to take my word for it*). It is based on the VW’s MLB platform modified for this application.
The cab-rear silhoutte, taught proportions, small overhangs, and some jaw-dropping styling elements are all present here. That Singleframe grille (seems more octagonal than hexagonal) ties the e-tron to other recent Audis (the all-new A6 included). I am not a fan of those headlights’ shape but they aren’t exactly deal-breakers either.
The rear of the car looks muscular with those creases over the rear-wheel arches. These creases are in continuation of the ones starting from the car’s bonnet that subtlely lead into the character lines hanging low on the sides. I will leave it up to the photos to give you a better idea the car’s looks and design.
My favourite part of the car’s exterior is the rear end. It gets a single wraparound LED lightbar and looks clean (badges notwithstanding). Various automakers are doing emotive designs today, but few do clean designs well, let alone as nicely as Audi.
The Audi e-tron’s interior is quite tech-focussed. It is dominated by sleek, horizontal elements like the A/c vents, the infotainment screen surround, and the quad-spoke steering wheel. The highlight of this interior are two digital displays on the centre console.
The top one (measuring 10.1 inches) is for infotainment, navigation, and other vehicular functions. The bottom one has controls for the HVAC system, seat ventilation, and more. Also not to be missed is the chunky horizontal gear selector. Lastly, there is the Virtual Cockpit Plus for the driver with Heads-Up Display.
Let’s now get to what makes the Audi e-tron tick. Underneath that clean sheet metal sit two electric motors that draw power from a 95kWh battery pack**. This gives the two motors a total system output of 664Nm torque (390Nm from front motor and 355Nm from rear motor).
The two electric motors send their power to all four wheels of the car. Audi touts the battery’s capability to charge from 0-80 per cent within 30 minutes when using a 150kW DC charger. With a 9.6kW AC charger, the battery pack can be fully charged in approximately 9 hours.
The Audi e-tron has a top speed of over 120mph (190kmph +). The car features multi-link suspension at front and rear ends with adaptive air dampers. It gets disc brakes at all ends and also gets an electromechanical parking brake. The car measures 4902mm in length, 2192mm in width (without mirrors), 1664mm in height, and 2929mm long wheelbase.
The Audi e-tron has features like optional virtual exterior mirrors (with cameras instead of ORVMs), four-zone climate control A/c, 8-way adjustable front seats with ventilation and massage functions, adaptive cruise control, Matrix LED headlamps, and traffic sign recognition.
Is the Audi e-tron worth consideration?
The answer to this question depends on how you take the Audi e-tron’s price tag. A mid-high five-figure sum is not an easy pill to swallow. That is primarily the reason why it can be the best-selling Audi when it goes on sale but is unlikely to be a Jaguar I-Pace or a Tesla Model X beater. The Jaguar has a first mover’s (relative to e-tron) advantage over the Audi. The Model X is still the most feature-laden and ground-breaking electric crossover money can buy.
My bigger concern with this car is simple – Audi is entering a market dominated by a company that is already far ahead of its competition. Compared alongside the I-Pace (which cross-shoppers will do anyway), it doesn’t do things much differently. Shouldn’t Audi offer this car in countries where Tesla is still not present?
It is unlikely to win against the Model X right now, but a first mover’s advantage in a market like India can help the e-tron be a rousing success for Audi. At least in most markets, the e-tron will likely have an edge over Mercedes-Benz EQC (headed for production in 2019).
Audi e-tron – Synopsis
- Prices start from US $74,800 (approx Rs 54.33 lakh at current exchange rate)
- First all-electric vehicle from Audi; first Audi to replace exterior rear-view mirrors with cameras
- Powered by two electric motors paired to a 95kWh battery with combined torque output of 664Nm
- Power and range figures yet to be disclosed
- Power routed to all four wheels, can achieve 190kmph+ top speed
- Multi-link suspension with adaptive air dampers at front and rear
- Features massive 400mm disc brakes up front and 350mm disc brakes at rear
- Has brake energy recuperation feature to maximise range
- Exterior design features include a Singleframe grille up front and an LED wraparound lightbar at the rear
- Interior dominated by horizontal elements
- Tech-focussed interior gets two displays on centre console and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Plus with HUD for driver
- Features Matrix LED headlamps, four-zone A/c, traffic sign recognition, and more clever features
*Thanks Digital Trends for this great story!
**Big thanks to Digital Trends again!