Wednesday 16 October 2019

Top of the range

Striking to look at, beautiful to drive and green - if only Audi's e-tron weren't so expensive, writes Geraldine Herbert

Style at a cost: The Audi e-tron
Style at a cost: The Audi e-tron

Geraldine Herbert

Hot on the heels of Jaguar's I-Pace, Audi's first pure electric car, the e-tron SUV has been eagerly awaited since the covers first came off the concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2015. The all-wheel-drive SUV claims a 391km range with a maximum towing capacity of 1,800kg and a new generation of the Quattro drive system.

The design is, sharp, clean and subtle; unmistakably Audi. Inside it is driver-centric and exudes the level of stylishness and luxury one might expect from the cabin of an Audi. The 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument binnacle screen and the button-free uncluttered cabin is familiar from the latest A6.

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Larger than the Q5, the e-tron comfortably seats five and still has plenty of room for storage and family accouterments with a generous 600-litre boot. Two electric motors that can deliver up to 300 kW allow the SUV to accelerate from rest to 100kph in 5.7 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of some 200kph.

On the road, it's instantly clear that the appeal of this car is more than simply emission-free motoring. It drives like an Audi and is even more fun than you might expect. Steering is precise and it is beautifully refined.

But it's not all good news, Audi claims that the e-tron can cover more than 391km on a single charge, but the range is probably the most disappointing aspect of the car. Various driver modes allow for different driving styles but set the dial to Dynamic and the range begins to quickly disappear and you will struggle to achieve anything close to the quoted range. Reassuringly using a fast-charger you can recharge to 80pc capacity in about 30 minutes but if charging at home it will take overnight. And for convenience, the e-tron has three charging points, one DC and two AC, positioned on both sides of the car.

The e-tron is one of a host of new models that competes on luxury and is designed to rival Jaguar's I-Pace and future models like the Porsche Taycan and the Mercedes-Benz EQC. Pricing for the e-tron starts at €101,750 which includes four-year service and delivery. But with options, our test car price rises to €114,500. Striking to look at and simply beautiful to drive the e-tron is a great car but it could be better.

It is let down by an eye-watering price along with range issues. But if you crave a bit of exclusivity and a clear conscience you might find this new Audi very tempting.

Sunday Independent

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