Test Drive: The New Audi e-tron Sportback
Ian Lamming enjoys the Marvel-lous virtues of Audi’s new e-tron Sportback
STRESS. Someone said it, therefore, it now exists and we have a condition that we can blame for our ills.
COVID hasn’t helped and has definitely cranked up the worry stakes. Pressures of work, pressures of insufficient work, pressures in the family and from not being allowed to see them.
My goodness, our apprehensions even start to extend to the car. Range anxiety is the fear of running out of charge in your completely electric vehicle (EV).
That’s because we are used to our soon-to-be-obsolete hydrocarbon fuelled vehicles carrying us 300-400 miles on a single tank of petrol and, even then, we are safe in the knowledge that we are never more than five miles from the nearest pump.
EVs come with a big battery and at the moment they’ll only carry you 200 miles-ish before having to plug them in again.
So it is with some degree of trepidation and range anxiety that I decide to go for Audi’s new e-tron Sportback knowing lockdown would preclude the need for lengthy journeys.
I needn’t have worried with the e-tron. When I set off for a destination 59 miles away the range readout only loses three miles in the wash, leaving me brimming with confidence that the gauge is nice and accurate. Home arrives with plenty still left in the tank, sorry, battery, without having to switch off any functions – thought I don’t dare use the heated seats.
I particularly like the way it recoups power when you are using the brakes. Heading up one hill loses me about 13 miles but I pick up 11 on the descent.
So what is e-tron? Well, Audi says it’s an SUV that is designed to ease car owners into the next generation of motoring when internal combustion finally gives way to electric and we can all breathe easy again.
You may have seen the odd e-tron lurking in Marvel movies too, which is another good reason to love them.
Since then they have moved on slightly by offering a swish looking Sportback version for the first time. It’s still an SUV but it has softer coupe-esque lines. Full width rear lights, funky LEDs and massive 21in wheels give the e-tron the sci-fi looks it deserves.
Inside, e-tron blends some very nice touchscreen features, an excellent virtual dash, sophisticated voice command and infotainment centre with traditional elements like leather sports seats and steering wheel.
In the door trim is another hi-tech feature, virtual wing mirrors. So the doors feature slim cameras pointing backwards and the images are projected on to the door screens which sit just below the level or traditional mirrors.
Things get really interesting when you put e-tron in reverse as the lower of the two centre-mounted touchscreens shows what’s going on behind as well as a bird’s eye view of the car. Add in your beepers and it all helps you manoeuvre nicely without dinging the bodywork.
What isn’t lost in the mix is Audi’s trademark drivability – e-tron is amazing. The 300kW electric motor (that’s the equivalent of 408PS) and 664Nm of torque make it a flier with 0-62mph being dispensed in 5.7 seconds, on the way to a limited top speed of 124mph. On the road it feels stupendously rapid, particularly as there is absolutely no noise.
Drive is through a single speed automatic gearbox and Quattro all-wheel-drive so the e-tron seems to push and drag from all four corners with skin-stretching degrees of power. It’s awesome.
Drive normally, drive frugally, and Audi claims up to 241 miles from a single battery charge, which is a figure that definitely reduces range anxiety.
Practically speaking, e-tron is easy to charge, just remove the appropriate lead from one of two boots (the front on this occasion rather than the enormous rear one), plug one end into the mains or a charge point and the other into the socket in the front wing, which is revealed when a flap moves electrically out of the way at the touch of a button. A green light blinks to shows it is charging and goes solid when the battery is full. It really is that easy.
Given all the stresses and strains the world now burdens us with the Audi E-tron not only fails to add to them but actually helps to take many away.
Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro S-line
Top speed: 124mph (limited)
Electrical range: 241 miles
Transmission: one-speed auto
CO2 g/km: 0
Price: £79,185.00 (£89,470.00 including extras)