► Audi e-Tron is Ingolstadt's first EV
► All electric rival to EQC, i-Pace
► More deriviatives coming
The e-Tron will sit somewhere between the Q7 and Q5 in Audi’s existing line-up, though it’s actually lower than the latter. It seems despite its skateboard-battery configuration, Audi has managed to keep the roofline nice and low – which certainly gives the designers at Ingolstadt a helping hand.
Audi e-Tron: conservative design
There are few shocks here: the Audi e-Tron maintains the familiar design handbook of the wider Audi family, while also incorporating a few elements that denote its all-electric powertrain. Put it this way, it won't alienate people like Merc's heavily stylised EQC might.
Read our guide to the best EVs and electric cars on sale today
Front and rear lights feature additional sections of striped light that Audi’s designers say echoes the same sort of structures you’d see in a computer heatsink – and CAR understands they’ll be animated on the production model, a little like the new A8’s rear lights. Either way, it’s one method of separating the e-Tron from the rest of Audi’s increasingly similar-looking range. And with the e-Tron line up set to grow exponentially by 2025, Ingolstadt’s design teams are planning for the future with this SUV.
As with most electric cars, efficiency is key, and air curtains towards the front of the car aim to reduce draggy turbulence around the front wheels. And those wheels are going to be big: in a seminar ahead of the car’s release, the e-Tron’s exterior designer claimed ‘we know in design you do nothing wrong having big wheels.’ Has he heard of mounting Kwik-Fit bills for replacement rubber?
As with most shooting brakes, fast wagons and SUVs, the back windscreen is quite heavily raked, so Audi has prioritised a dynamic look at the expense of extra storage.
Audi e-Tron: interior from the future (or A8)
Inside, the e-Tron looks a lot like a contemporary Audi, but features a few key differences which come from its EV underpinnings. Just like the A8, the e-Tron features what Audi calls a black-panel layout, although that essentially means ‘lots of touchscreens’ in non-Ingolstadt speak. Like the A8 and A7, these feature haptic feedback, and they’re also arranged in two layers – with another panel at the bottom of the centre console.
A lack of transmission tunnel means the e-Tron feels airier than its ICE-powered equivalent, and in its place you’ll find a large cubby hole with a rather nifty gear-selector further up. Virtual Cockpit is here too, but the highlight of the interior has to be Audi’s new door-mirror-based cameras.
Fitted to the outside of the car instead of conventional mirrors, the new cameras feed images to two digital screens on the inside of the door, and they’re the first we’ve seen on any production car. Audi says the cameras reduce the width of the car by 15cm, and that’ll have a significant reduction in drag, too.
Just remember these are slated to be an option in the UK; you'll have to pay extra for them.
Further electric car reading
The best electric cars and EVs on sale today
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
Future electric cars: upcoming EVs to look out for
Audi e-Tron: tech and specs
As for the specs? The electric Audi will use two electric motors, producing up to 300kW altogether.
Both motors are near-identical, though the rear motor is slightly larger, and both are powered by a battery measuring a large 2280mm x 1630mm x 340mm – which is around the size of a double bed. With a stated capacity of 95kWh, the battery sits between the wheels in the traditional EV skateboard layout. There are 432 cells in total, but they’re arranged in to 36 shoebox-sized units, and each gets its own impact protection.
In normal operation the e-Tron will give you 265kW of power, 561Nm (414lb ft) of torque and a 0-60mph time of 6.4 seconds. In Boost mode, there’s 300kW of power, 664Nm (490lb ft) of torque and a 0-60mph time of 5.5sec, but remember that’s only available for a limited time.
Audi e-Tron: charging and range
Audi says the e-Tron will be able to charge from 0-80% in 30 minutes when using 120kW charging, and Audi has also introduced two home chargers for trickle-charging. The overnight Compact 11kW charging system will top up your e-Tron in 8.5 hours, while a smarter Charging System Connect will do it in 4.5 hours with 22kW charging, according to Ingolstadt.
The latter also features smart home integration, though it’s not clear if it’s also compatible with Audi’s recently announced Smart Home energy system.
If you’re further afield, you’ll be able to use Audi’s e-Tron Charging Service, which will consist of around 72,000 charge points across more than 220 operators, but ties them in with one contract. You’ll be able to pay on contactless card or QR app to begin with, and you’ll get a bill at the end of every month – nope, it won’t be free like Tesla Supercharging...
Audi will let you be part of its scheme for one year before you have to pay for the privilege – plus the charging costs of electricity used, of course.Audi hasn’t mentioned wireless charging yet, so it looks as though both Mercedes and BMW have the jump on the e-Tron in that area. However, it's probably only a matter of time.
Audi e-Tron: when's it coming, and how much will it cost?
And the purchase price of the Audi e-Tron? It'll cost £70,800 in the UK.
Production has already begun, and the first e-Tron models should reach customers by 2019. Despite that punchy price, Audi expects this to be a relatively high-volume car, and it’s going to be churning out 400 engines and therefore 200 cars a day from its Belgian-based factory.
What’s more, the factory, which also produced the old A1, has had an injection of €600 million (£533m), and it’s also where Audi will be making the motors for the new e-Tron. Audi is buying in expertise like the LG-powered Porsche Taycan on the battery-side though.
With so much platform sharing between Porsche with the PPE system, and the MLB system with Bentley, VW, Porsche and more, it’s very possible we’ll soon see other VW Group cars with Audi-developed parts. It’d make sense from a production and cost-saving view, at least.
Audi e-Tron: other models
The electric Audi e-Tron is now available to buy, and we’ve driven it in on UK roads, too. However, it’s only the beginning of the brands electrified plans, and now we’ve spotted Ingolstadt’s engineers testing spiced-up derivatives.
Earlier this year, our spy photographers snapped the Sportback version of the eSUV, and now they’ve caught what could be the performance-orientated e-Tron Quattro S out testing.
There doesn’t seem to be any changes to the bodywork that we can see – those will likely come later – but it’s clear that these e-Trons are running on beefed-up wheels, and feature a different lowered, suspension.
Underneath however, CAR understands that Audi is cooking up something a little hotter than the current e-Tron – and that may include an extra motor.
There are already rumours of a three-motor set up, with a couple of them powering the rear axle. The benefits of obvious; a new 640bhp ceiling in total power, extra capability for torque-vectoring and a bump in acceleration, too. We’re counting on you Ingolstadt.
Audi e-Tron: And the Sportback
Our spy photographers have snapped electric Audi #3 (also after the e-Tron GT), the Sportback version of the Audi e-Tron, based on the same MLB platform.
Pictured cold weather testing, the new car is one another of those ‘SUV Coupes’ and essentially features a lower-line roof for a more hunkered-down and sporty feel. After all, it is called a Sportback.
Despite the new looks, we’re not expecting any performance differences between this and the standard e-Tron, which you can read more about below.
Audi e-Tron: anything else?
News from the other side of the Atlantic has suggested Audi's latest EV is going to have to be recalled due to a potential fire risk. We've been in touch with Audi UK, who confirm the issue, but have also informed us that just '31 affected cars are currently in circulation with customers in the UK.'
A spokesperson from Audi UK went on to tell us that these owners are being contacted now, and appointments the necesary remedial work are being booked. What more, Audi UK will be providing a courtesy car to those affected.
What is the fire risk?
According to a statement from Audi America, certain models of the new EV have a 'potentially faulty seal that may allow moisture to enter the battery compartment which could lead to a short circuit or in extreme cases to a thermal event.' The phrase 'thermal event' sounds a like a nice way of saying fire or spark doesn't it?
According to the same statement by Audi America, the issue affects 540 delivered e-Tron vehicles and 1644 in total, and there'll be a recall repair in August. Interestingly it doesn't seem to affect all cars though, with Audi America adding that 'e-tron vehicles unaffected by the recall remain available for delivery and our reservation system remains open to receive customer reservations.'
Those in the US will get a courtesy car, '$800 cash card, complimentary Audi Care (or reimbursement) and dedicated customer service contact.'
Keep reading for everything else you need to know about the current e-Tron on sale.