Audi has finally taken the wraps off its first-ever all-electric vehicle, the e-tron SUV. The e-tron is Audi’s answer to the Tesla Model X, the Jaguar I-Pace and the recently revealed Mercedes-Benz EQC.
In terms of design, the e-tron looks similar to Audi’s current Q range of SUVs. Like the flagship Q8, the e-tron features Audi’s latest octagonal single frame grille, which is mostly enclosed to aid aerodynamics. Compared to the Matrix LED headlamps on regular Audi models, the units on the e-tron receive four horizontal ‘struts’ on either side. This feature is likely to be limited to Audi’s all-electric vehicles.
The e-tron also features fatter haunches around the front and rear fenders, like newer Q SUVs such as the Q8 and the Q3. The rear portion of the SUV features wraparound LED tail lamps which echo the graphics of the daytime running lights seen at the front. Further, the tail lamps are connected by a thin red LED strip at the centre which helps enhance the width of the SUV. Being an all-electric SUV, the e-tron does not possess tail pipes at the rear.
Like its exterior, the interior too is reminiscent of the 2015 e-tron quattro Concept. The e-tron’s cabin has an air of minimalism about it and features a driver-focused dashboard. You can opt for up to five high definition screens, including four touchscreens. It even gets the 12.3-inch Nvidia-powered, fully-digital instrument cluster first seen on the new A4, A5 and Q5.
There are twin touchscreens on the central console - a 10.1-inch screen featuring Audi MMI touch infotainment system and an 8.6-inch touchscreen display which houses controls for the air-conditioning system and other comfort functions. The e-tron offers a 705 Watt Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System with 16 speakers and an amplifier.
Apart from these displays, the e-tron’s equipment list boast of two 7-inch OLED touchscreen displays for the optional camera-based ‘virtual exterior mirrors’. Yes, Audi has replaced the regular outside rearview mirrors (ORVMs) with sleek camera-equipped units.
Audi promises ample space for five passengers and their gear on the e-tron thanks to a wheelbase of 2928mm, which is only 16mm shorter than the latest version of the Audi A6. The overall cargo capacity of the Audi e-tron is rated at 660-liters.
Being an electric vehicle, the e-tron will presumably be silent on ignition. However, the e-SUV will emit a sound to inform that you’re ready to roll. Powering the electric SUV are twin motors placed on either axles for a total system output of up to 408PS (300kW) of power and 664Nm of torque. The 0-100kmph sprint is covered in 5.7 seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 200kmph.
Audi says the e-tron has a combined range of over 400km on a single charge under the latest WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) test cycle. The electric SUV packs a 95kWh battery pack that can be juiced up to 80 per cent within 30 minutes using a 150kW DC fast charger, which Audi claims is a first for a series production vehicle. Needless to say, e-tron customers will be able to control the charging processes as well as pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin via their smartphone with the myAudi app.
*The EQC has a claimed range of over 450km (280 miles), which is Mercedes-Benz’s internal test figure based on NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). Testing agencies across Europe replaced NEDC with WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) last year. The new test cycle is said to offer offer more realistic results. Apart from the EQC and the Model X, all other EVs mentioned in the table above are rated under the WLTP test cycle. The Tesla is rated under EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), which is said to be more accurate than the WLTP cycle.
Audi has already confirmed the e-tron for India. It will be launched in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Expect the electric SUV to be brought here as a CBU (completely built unit), which would result in it being priced well over the Rs 1 crore mark. In Germany, its prices start from €79,900 (~ Rs 67.85 lakh). Rivals like the EQC and the I-Pace have not been announced for the Indian market yet, while Tesla is expected to enter the country with the Model 3 sedan in the near future.