Audi e-tron Watts the Story?

Gulf Insider attends the International Driving Launch of the latest Audi to hit the streets; quietly!

At first glance, the Audi e-tron 55 Quattro, looks just like you would expect of a new crossover SUV from the company that already produces the Q5, Q7, etc. but this one is the company’s first fully electric production vehicle (EV) which has been long awaited. The e-tron is sized between its two fossil fueled siblings, so has more than enough room for most families, impressing us with its overall looks; it’s a pretty car. We spent a full day with the car in the towns, hills and deserts of Abu Dhabi, providing us with the opportunity to properly review the practical capabilities of a 400km ranged EV in our local environment. The e-tron has a 95kWh battery that weighs in at a whopping 700kg, a little over 25% of the total car’s 2 and a half tons; it’s heavy! The Lithium batteries live in a fully-sealed container underneath the passenger compartment and drive the two electric motors that help to propel the car to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and onwards to its electronically-limited top speed of 200 km/h. The battery can be recharged from a 150kw DC fast charger which will provide an 80 percent charge in 30-40 minutes and can be fully charged overnight from an 11kw home charging point which is certainly practical enough for general use for a daily driver in most of the Middle East.
Like all EVs the e-tron also relies on its regenerative powers that recuperate battery power while coasting and braking. After a very rapid ascent of Jebel Hafeet, 10km of twisting mountainous road, which certainly drained the batteries considerably, the car managed to recover more than 13 km of range from the braking used coming down the mountain; impressive! Equally, the e-tron uses its electric motors to provide the braking with the hydraulically operated brakes only coming into play in extreme situations.

From a driving experience perspective the car is very quick and extraordinarily quiet! With more than 490 lb-ft of torque available in Sport mode this car is certainly no slouch, considering its weight, and with almost 30% of this weight at the lowest point of the car it certainly handles very well with just a slight oversteer noticeable when pressed hard into the bends. It rides on air springs and adaptive dampers that provide nicely controlled body motion, delivering a very comfortable ride throughout the day. Audi has also gone to great lengths to reduce wind and road noise, even to the extent of providing rear facing CCTV wing mirror stalks (an optional extra) which both increase the car’s range by a few percent as well as helping in the overall silence of the driving experience.

 

 

 

 

 

It has to be said that this latter innovation seems to be more of a gimmick than a practical replacement for normal mirrors, with the reflections and glare from the sun here, coupled to their position just below the window at the front of each door, none of us testing that day managed to get used to these. However, if the display had been in the instrument console, a different story may have been the result in my opinion. From a technology point of view, the e-tron offers all you would expect from a slightly futuristic Audi, delivering a tech-laden cabin and numerous driver-assistance features. Its dashboard is packed with high-resolution screens that air springs and adaptive dampers that provide nicely controlled body motion, delivering a very comfortable ride throughout the day.

Audi has also gone to great lengths to reduce wind and road noise, even to the extent of providing rear facing CCTV wing mirror stalks (an optional extra) which both increase the car’s range by a few percent as well as helping in the overall silence of the driving experience. It has to be said that this latter innovation seems to be more of a gimmick than a practical replacement for normal mirrors, with the reflections and glare from the sun here, coupled to their position just below the window at the front of each door, none of us testing that day managed to get used to these. However, if the display had been in the instrument console, a different story may have been the result in my opinion. From a technology point of view, the e-tron offers all you would expect from a slightly futuristic Audi, delivering a tech-laden cabin and numerous driver-assistance features. Its dashboard is packed with high-resolution screens that include Audi’s Virtual Cockpit as well as two flush-mounted touchscreens in the center. Adding to the displays, the car comes with an array of cameras and sensors which support its semi-autonomous driving modes such as adaptive cruise control and self-parking assist; as expected both of these performed very well during our 500km day out.


The interior of the car has Audi’s high quality design and finish throughout and it was pleasing to note that they have chosen not to load the car with futuristic accents or design ideas. This is most likely aimed at wooing more conservative standard SUV buyers to the model, which to all extents is just like any other SUV in the range; a good idea in my opinion. Finally, it is worth mentioning the e-tron’s practical use here in the region in 2019. At the time of writing charging points are few and far between in most areas, which may give rise to some challenges in more extended trips across the region, however the navigation system provides assistance in this, planning your trip from A to B and calculating the most time efficient route based on the location of charging points. This situation will, of course, improve over the coming 1-2 years as all manufacturers are gearing up to deploy fast charging stations at many of the ‘destinations’ that average drivers will visit such as Mall’s, major hotels, multistory car parks, etc.

The overall strategy, from a government perspective, is less clear at this time, relying on all EV makers to roll out the infrastructure to support mass adoption, at least in this transition period, but we are sure this will also increase in the near future. In summary, the car is a great execution of the genre, which was both fun and practical to drive. Given the general daily driving cycle for most cars here in the region it is certainly a valid option for your next purchase and a great addition to the growing range of EVs available in the market today. There will be three trim levels for the e-tron and prices will start from around BHD 30,000, placing it squarely into its market segment.

For a test drive or further information, please contact Audi Bahrain on +973 1745 9933.