It is tough to overstate the significance of the $74,800 2019 Audi E-Tron. As the corporate’s first full-production trendy EV, it would be simple to look on it as one thing of an experiment. That, nevertheless, can be unsuitable. In actuality, the brand new E-Tron is the tip of the spear — a $16 billion greenback spear focused squarely on the premium electrical automotive market. 

The long run for Audi is electrical and whereas the A3 E-Tron was one thing of a primary style, it is this full-fat Audi E-Tron that actually factors the way in which ahead. What’s it? Properly, it is an SUV that does not stray too far in form or intent from earlier vehicles just like the A6 Allroad or Q7 SUV. Nevertheless, with its design as a ground-up EV, it units a brand new template for issues to return. And, after a lot teasing and testing and even just a little showboating, I’ve lastly pushed the E-Tron you can purchase this coming yr. I am pleased to report that it does not disappoint, however as ever it is just a little extra sophisticated than that.

Rock the boat, do not break the mildew

When you did not know any higher, you’d by no means assume the E-Tron was considerably totally different than another manufacturing Audi. It is a trendy, refined automotive with a form splitting the distinction between tall-wagon or low-SUV, not straying removed from the template outlined by the Q7. Nevertheless E-Tron a superb bit decrease and shorter and does with out that Q’s third row of seating. That pushes it extra towards the one thing like an A6 Allroad, however the E-Tron is greater than that — and far, a lot heavier.

An enormous weight of 5,490 kilos (2,490 kilograms) will shortly dispel any notion that this may be a lifted sports activities wagon. That is greater than 500 kilos heavier than a top-shelf Q7, a weight that places it roughly on par with the Tesla Mannequin X, regardless of this being significantly smaller.

The place is Audi hiding all that mass? Most of it may be discovered within the new, 95 kilowatt-hour battery pack that makes up the ground of the automotive. It is this pack after all that gives the juice for the pair of electrical motors, one on the entrance and one on the rear, enabling a brand new era of Quattro all-wheel drive. Whereas that placement and total structure could also be just like what we have seen in Teslas through the years, there are some substantial variations right here. 

Sit inside and shut the door of the E-Tron and you will uncover a sense of substance that is missing in Tesla’s SUV. Doorways shut with a confidence-inspiring ‘thunk’ and each floor of the inside reinforces that impression.  

The primary is the character of that pack. Its cooling system guarantees higher thermal administration than different present EVs, conserving these temperature-sensitive battery cells pleased in their very own window of efficiency to ship most vary whereas additionally standing up higher to trauma. Crash resistance can also be bolstered by an enormous body that surrounds the pack, ostensibly making certain that E-Tron will not enter a thermal runaway state of affairs in even the largest of impacts.

That body after all provides a number of weight, however sit inside and shut the door of the E-Tron and you will uncover a sense of substance that is missing in Tesla’s SUV. Doorways shut with a confidence-inspiring “thunk” and each floor of the inside reinforces that impression. This, then, could be very a lot an Audi, and for many who would possibly really feel uncomfortable making a significant funding into some EV startup or one other, that is an element that can not be ignored.

The desert makes for a superb take a look at of an EV’s air-con — and ventilated seats.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

The drive

I will simply get this on the market early: the E-Tron is just not a very partaking automotive to drive. Whereas it by no means will get flustered by aggressive cornering nor freeway runs, it is hardly a nook carver. Sure, it is going to sort out tight turns comprehensively, nevertheless it does not actually appear to benefit from the job, and in the event you’re inside you will not essentially both.

The brake pedal really feel is likewise a bit wood, one thing that once more does not reward aggression. That mentioned, the automotive brakes cleanly and presents constant really feel by your complete pedal vary. That is an space the place many EVs wrestle, however with E-Tron there isn’t any perceivable transition it’s essential to step by as you shift from regeneration to engagement of the bodily brakes. That mentioned, I want the automotive provided extra regen with out having to step on that second pedal. By utilizing the paddles mounted on the steering wheel you’ll be able to improve or lower regen, however even on max, the regen is pretty middling till you step on the brake pedal. Nobody-pedal driving right here, then.

Step on the opposite pedal, that one over on the precise, and you will be rewarded with a wholesome dose of acceleration. E-Tron is fast by commonplace SUV requirements, accelerating from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds. That is Zero.2 seconds faster than a Q7 with the three.Zero-liter motor, but when I needed to hazard a guess you are in all probability considering extra in regards to the acceleration figures delivered by a sure different electrical SUV.

Sure, a top-shelf Tesla Mannequin X P100D can get to 60 in simply 2.9 seconds, however earlier than you begin quoting Tesla efficiency figures in an effort to place Audi’s new rig down, needless to say E-Tron’s beginning worth of $74,800 makes it $10,000 cheaper than even the Mannequin X 75D, which motors as much as 60 in a slightly extra comparable four.9 seconds. If you need the efficiency of the P100D you may be taking a look at a beginning worth of roughly $140,000 — practically twice that of the Audi. 

Bodily brakes on the E-Tron carry out effectively, nevertheless it might use extra regenerative braking.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

All that is to not say that the E-Tron does not have its personal efficiency attributes. Audi has repeatedly informed me of the efforts made to make sure the cooling on the motors of its new EV SUV far exceeds that of recent Teslas, so whereas its outright efficiency could seem considerably tame, its sustained efficiency ought to shine. Sustained pace is a crucial factor if you’re speaking a couple of automotive designed in Germany, the land of the high-speed, derestricted Autobahn.

Alas, my E-Tron expertise was not in Germany however slightly Abu Dhabi, a land that not solely has pace limits however pace cameras situated roughly each 100 meters on highways. Simply 1 kilometer-per-hour over the restrict is sufficient to set off an eye-watering superb.

My testing, then, did not threaten the E-Tron’s 124 miles-per-hour high pace, however at prolonged classes close to Abu Dhabi’s most authorized pace of 140 kmph (87 mph) on the freeway, this SUV proved itself to be serene and steady. All trendy EVs are quiet, however this one particularly so. That, mixed with the cosseting experience of the adaptive air suspension, creates a cushty tourer par excellence.

However in the event you’re excited about touring in an EV, one query will certainly be on the high of your thoughts…

The E-Tron does not have a lot in the way in which of a frunk, however there’s not less than sufficient area to retailer the charging cables.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

What in regards to the vary, then?

I want I might inform you what the E-Tron can be formally rated for relating to the US, nevertheless it’s nonetheless present process official testing. We can’t have an EPA ranking till nearer to the automotive hitting dealerships in the summertime of 2019. Nevertheless, we now have sufficient data to present a ballpark.

In Europe, E-Tron is rated on the WLTP cycle at 400 kilometers, or 248 miles. WLTP is considerably simpler than the EPA take a look at, that means the automotive nearly definitely will not come close to that determine within the US. What’s going to it do? Sadly there’s not rather a lot to check it to, however in Europe, the Jaguar I-Tempo is rated at 292 miles on WLTP. Within the US EPA cycle, it carries a 234 mile ranking. That is a whopping 20 % drop.

If I needed to make an informed guess, and once more that is all that is, I might say that E-Tron will in all probability come to the States with an EPA ranking bang on 200 miles. Disappointing? Properly, that is definitely rather a lot decrease than the 237 miles a 75 kWh Mannequin X can obtain, however keep in mind that rig prices practically $10,000 extra. That 234 mile Jaguar I-Tempo, in the meantime, begins at $69,500.

Audi says they have been extra conservative in tuning how the automotive makes use of its property, treating its cells extra conservatively protect the general lifetime of the battery pack. In alternate, E-Tron consumers will obtain an eight-year, 100,000-mile guarantee. That is twice the length and distance offered by Tesla. After which there’s the high-speed Electrify America community that is rising by leaps and bounds, chargers that can give the E-Tron an 80 % cost in a couple of half-hour. 

In my expertise, 200 miles is the purpose the place you begin to neglect about vary and begin to simply benefit from the automotive. It needs to be lots sufficient to quench vary nervousness for all however essentially the most excessive of commuters, however with the present state of the US charging community, E-Tron road-trippers will nonetheless must do some fairly intensive analysis earlier than heading out. 

Although I miss the rotary controller, MMI is pretty much as good as ever, as is Audi’s digital cockpit.

Audi

All that tech

Whereas the brand new E-Tron is not Audi’s most tech-riddled automotive on the highway, that crown remains to be reserved for the brand new A8 and all its multi-sensory glory, this new EV isn’t any slouch. Contained in the automotive it is rolling with Audi’s newest era of MMI, ditching the standard rotary controller in alternate for a dual-touchscreen structure. The underside display screen is primarily used for HVAC duties, tapping and swiping to set your excellent temperature and toggle the seat heaters, whereas the higher display screen primarily handles navigation and the remainder of the infotainment duties.

I confess I miss the pace, simplicity and tactility of the rotary controller, however this new MMI remains to be superb to make use of, among the many strongest but responsive programs in a contemporary automotive. It is miles and miles forward of the stutter-step system discovered within the Jaguar I-Tempo and way more complete than what Tesla’s nonetheless placing within the Mannequin X, and never simply because it helps each Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

However there is a third display screen value mentioning, and that is the gauge cluster. The most recent rendition of Audi’s vaunted digital cockpit is right here, an enormous, vibrant and dazzling interface with sufficient decision to obviate the necessity to show the Google Maps-enhanced navigation information within the central MMI display screen, leaving that free for media looking or no matter else you want. If that is not sufficient, there is a heads-up show, too.

The tech of this automotive goes far deeper, although, and that built-in nav system has been augmented to routinely counsel chargers alongside the way in which, even signaling that are in-use. E-Tron contains Audi’s complete suite of lively security programs, together with adaptive cruise management that can deliver the automotive to a whole cease after which routinely resume if you’re caught in site visitors, as certainly we spent a good bit of time in Abu Dhabi.

Do not look out, look down.

Audi

Wait, the place are the mirrors?

Audi wished not less than one new trick for E-Tron, and it got here within the side-view mirrors of all locations. The common-or-garden mirror hasn’t actually modified a lot because the daybreak of time, however with this automotive Audi wished to actually whittle again the automotive’s aerodynamic drag. By changing the outboard mirrors with cameras, E-Tron positive aspects an estimated 1.5 miles of vary. As a substitute of mirrors you get a set of angular shows, one inset into every door just a bit beneath the place you’d sometimes look to gaze right into a typical mirror.

However, earlier than you get too enthusiastic about all this, I’ve some excellent news and a few dangerous information. The dangerous information is that the US variations of E-Tron will not obtain these mirrors. They do not fulfill the arcane legal guidelines hand-written in parchment and saved in a dusty, cobwebed NHTSA chamber someplace.

So what’s the excellent news? Really, that is additionally the excellent news, as a result of whereas they’re immensely cool in concept, in follow these digital mirrors are a particular step backwards from a humble piece of glass or two.

First, there’s the place, which is about six inches decrease than a regular mirror. That is disconcerting at first, however even if you get used to wanting decrease it poses an issue. Whenever you flip your head to examine your blind spot you are naturally searching the window, so a standard mirror is instantly in your line of sight. These aren’t, that means it’s important to look down after which again.

The larger downside, although, is that the sphere of view is sort of slim, leaving me with a kind of claustrophobic really feel. That is fairly just like the primary era digital rear-view mirrors Normal Motors rolled out a couple of years in the past. Within the newest model of that tech, as discovered on the brand new GMC Sierra, the sphere of view is far wider. I hated the previous model however truly like the brand new one. An identical adjustment by Audi can be welcome right here. 

Even on their brightest setting, the triangular panels are noticeably dimmer than the automotive’s different inside shows, an issue made worse with polarized sun shades.  

Lastly, there is a easy challenge of show readability. Even on their brightest setting, the triangular panels are noticeably dimmer than the automotive’s different inside shows, an issue made worse with polarized sun shades. The decision additionally feels satisfactory in comparison with a standard mirror. At one level, my co-driver Jim Resnick identified a Camaro headed in the other way (a novelty on this a part of the world). I might missed it, so seemed within the wing mirror to catch it. All I might make out was a white, car-shaped object. Have been I wanting in a standard mirror I am assured I might have had no downside telling whether or not it was an SS or a base V6.

That is a reasonably sizable suite of negatives, however there are a couple of positives past simply the aero benefit. These mirrors are fast and straightforward to regulate, simply drag your finger round till the digital camera’s pointed in the precise route. And, as soon as set, they will by no means want to maneuver once more, even in the event you bodily transfer your self within the automotive. That is helpful in the event you, like me, begin to slouch after a couple of hours value of droning down the freeway.

For some, these 4 rings on the nostril would be the E-Tron’s greatest promoting level.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Pricing and wrap-up

The 2019 Audi E-Tron begins at $74,800 for the Premium Plus trim, which could be the base mannequin however is hardly missing in goodies, together with niceties like a B&O sound system, heated and cooled 12-way seats and Audi’s active-matrix headlights. The total suite of driver assists provides $2,850 and our readers from the north will need the $900 chilly climate package deal. $81,800 strikes you as much as the Status trim, which incorporates all of the ADAS toys plus the heads-up show, massaging seats and different treats like an ionizing air filter and power-closing doorways.

These costs are earlier than the $7,500 federal rebate and another native incentives. Get ’em whereas they final…

So, it is not an affordable SUV, however it’s in the identical ballpark as I-Tempo and significantly extra reasonably priced than the most affordable Mannequin X. Value it? We’ll want extra time within the saddle to know for positive, however the mixture of practicality and luxury with functionality make E-Tron a compelling possibility for these trying to enter this new period of premium electrical vehicles. Positive, it might not ringer relating to outright efficiency when in comparison with the Tesla, however for anybody cross-shopping there, these 4 rings on the E-Tron’s nostril would possibly simply be the largest promoting level of all.

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