What is it?
It has taken more than three years for the Audi E-tron SUV to progress from formative concept stage to full production maturity. In that time the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X have gone on sale, giving Ingolstadt’s first production electric car plenty of rivals when it goes on sale here early next year.
A lot is hanging on the new zero-emission SUV, not least Audi’s standing in what is set to become a hugely competitive segment. The E-tron sports all of Audi’s traditional design cues. At 4900mm long, 1940mm wide and 1620mm high, it is 237mm longer, 48mm wider and 39mm lower than the second-generation Q5 and is claimed to offer similar cabin space to the Q7.
It’s a smart looking car which features the sort of attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Audi, and with it comes an unsurprisingly long list of optional extras which includes the so-called Virtual Mirrors on our test car.
The E-tron is based on a heavily modified version of the MLB platform used by the Q5, which helps to explain the visual similarities to its combustion-engined sibling. Underneath, however, it is unique.
At its core is an electric driveline with two asynchronous motors – one sitting up front with 181bhp and the other at the rear with 221bhp– connected by an electronic ‘prop shaft’ that eschews a conventional mechanical connection for a wiring loom. Together, the two motors provide four-wheel drive and deliver up to 402bhp and 487lb ft, although this is only available in Boost mode, which also gives the new Audi a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.7sec. Top speed is limited to 124mph.