Because Audi was solely providing e-tron drives in Abu Dhabi, we elected to just accept paid flights and two nights in a lodge with a purpose to attend this occasion, relatively than having to attend no less than six months to drive the car.
In the wake of its emissions scandal, Volkswagen Group has been on a mission to reinvent itself. After staking its status on diesel, the German automaker has carried out a volte face; electrical energy is now the longer term. It’s spending billions on creating new battery electrical car platforms, billions constructing a US community of high-speed chargers, and has dedicated billions extra to lock up battery provides. And now, lastly, the primary of those efforts has begun to bear fruit.
Behold, the primary—however positively not the final—battery electrical car from VW Group. One that has been designed from the bottom as much as be powered by electrons: the Audi e-tron. We received our first good take a look at a flashy launch occasion in San Francisco this previous September, and now we have lastly had an opportunity to drive it. After 24 hours on aircraft after aircraft, we put the e-tron by way of its paces on and off the roads. Along the best way, we confirmed a few of our preconceptions about this new BEV and busted others.
There’s no denying this electrical SUV is intelligent, as is the best way it has been positioned available in the market. As with any electrical automobile, it will not be for everybody. And boy was I incorrect about what many people thought can be the automobile’s coolest new know-how. Here’s what we realized.
Under the pores and skin, it’s an Audi
Every few months it looks like I’m writing about yet one more new electrical VW named I.D. something-or-other that makes use of VW Group’s new MEB electrical car structure. Forget all about MEB in relation to the e-tron, as a result of MEB is for smaller autos. Within the company behemoth that’s the VW Group, Audi is taking the lead for bigger electrical autos (like this one and Porsche’s soon-to-arrive Taycan sedan), and for now it’s going to use a modified model of the identical MLB Evo car structure that gives the constructing blocks for vehicles and SUVs just like the A8, Q7, Panamera, and so forth.
All the suspension pickup factors are the identical as another MLB Evo car, as is the interior digital structure (infotainment in addition to driver assists) and the local weather management system. But clearly there are some variations. Instead of an inner combustion engine, every axle sports activities its personal asynchronous electrical motor, every of which contains a cooling lance operating by way of it. At the entrance, that is parallel to the axle, however overlook a few massively roomy “frunk”; a lot of the area beneath the hood is taken up by the cooling system, energy electronics, and onboard AC charger. At the rear, the motor is coaxially mounted for higher packaging and 50:50 weight distribution.
Total energy and torque output is 355hp (265kW) and 413lb-ft (561Nm) in regular situations, which might enhance to 402hp (300kW) and 490lb-ft (664Nm) for brief bursts—about eight seconds—when the e-tron is in its sportiest setting. (The entrance motor is rated at 168hp at 182lb-ft (125kW at 247Nm), boosted to 181hp and 228lb-ft (135kW and 309Nm), the rear usually gives 188hp (140kW) at 232lb-ft (314Nm) however can enhance to 221hp (165kW) and 262ft-lbs (355Nm)).
The battery positioning follows commonplace BEV protocol and is situated between the axles and beneath the passenger compartment. It’s constructed up like a sandwich, beginning on the backside with a 3.5mm aluminum safety plate. Next is the liquid cooling system, then a housing tray, and on high of that the cell modules—36 in all. Each module incorporates 12 versatile 60Ah cell pouches, and particular person modules might be changed if crucial. A really sturdy battery body surrounds the modules and battery pack to offer crash safety.
Above the cells is one other aluminum cowl, then the battery junction field on the entrance, and one other set of three extra battery modules on the rear. The battery is rated at 95kWh with a nominal voltage of 396V. That provides the e-tron a WLTP-determined vary of 248.5 miles (400km), though Audi remains to be ready for the extra correct EPA ranking to be decided. The pack is warrantied for eight years or 100,00Zero miles, and Audi says it’s assured to take care of no less than 70 p.c of its capability on the eight-year mark.
The seems to be gained’t scare anybody
When Audi got down to make its first correct BEV, the objective was at first for it to suit into the lineup with out scaring anybody off. So overlook the extremely aerodynamic “bar of soap” look of a Tesla or the futuristic method Jaguar took with the I-Pace; squint and the e-tron may very well be a Q8. It has been positioned available in the market as such, too; a five-seat SUV—vital for US gross sales—that is a phase dimension smaller than the seven-seat Tesla Model X and, equally, a phase dimension bigger than both the I-Pace or Mercedes-Benz’ EQC.
To get particular, the e-tron is 193 inches (4,901mm) lengthy, 76 inches (1,935mm) broad, and 64 inches (1,616mm) excessive, with a 115-inch (2,928mm) wheelbase. A Model X is 198 inches (5,037mm) lengthy, 79 inches (1,999mm) broad, 66 inches (1,676mm) tall, and has a 117-inch (2,964mm) wheelbase, and an I-Pace measures 184 inches (4,682mm) lengthy, 79 inches (2,011mm) broad, 61 inches (1,565mm) tall, with a 118-inch (2,990mm) wheelbase.
The design is extra aerodynamic than your standard Audi SUV fare, although. There’s an air curtain on the entrance to channel air down the perimeters and away from the turbulent chaotic mess that usually occurs when rotating wheels meet the airflow. The wheel designs are aero-optimized. The entrance air consumption inside the company Audi grill is an energetic design that may shut for higher aero effectivity when wanted. Under the car there are splitters forward of the entrance wheels, a dimpled underbody cowl beneath the battery, entrance and rear underbody spoilers, and rear-axle Gurney flaps. The most noticeable concession to slicing drag are these aspect view cameras—you already know, those we cannot get right here within the US. But extra of these later. Overall, this provides the e-tron a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.27, or 0.28 in US-spec with standard reflective aspect mirrors.
On the within, all the things is as you’d anticipate from an Audi, which implies top-notch craftsmanship and a restrained magnificence. The seats are comfy, and the black panel sprint hides the two-screen infotainment system when it is turned off. It’s the newest model of MMI, and whereas it stays (in our opinion) one of the best infotainment system in the marketplace, if I’m being fully trustworthy I feel Audi has gone for too gentle a font (i.e. how thick the strains are on every character). I’m positive that UI resolution was made because of switching to increased decision screens. The high display is the place a lot of the infotainment capabilities reside, a 10.1-inch, 1,540×720 pixel touchscreen. Below it’s an 8.6-inch, 1,280×660 touchscreen that’s the everlasting house of the local weather settings. Both screens additionally function haptic suggestions, which ought to enable e-tron house owners to develop some muscle reminiscence for eyes-off operation.
Ahead of the motive force is a 3rd digital show, the newest evolution of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit tech. Again, this stays my favourite implementation of a digital instrument show—to this point solely Audi appears to be pondering outdoors of the oblong field to fill all the binnacle.