The 2019 Audi E-Tron SUV is designed to look and feel much like a standard Audi SUV, but it's all-electric. The neighbors might not even notice that it's electric as it comes and goes from the driveway, but Audi has playfully woven hints of the new technology into the front and rear styling and even the upholstery with symbols of battery meters and circuit boards. Otherwise, it's an impressive luxury ride in the next generation of EV SUVs, following the Jaguar I-Pace and to be followed by Mercedes-Benz and others. Some compare these to radical Tesla products; others say this is a new generation of familiar vehicles coming from traditional major manufacturers.
What are the horsepower, performance and range of the Audi E-Tron? What about the powertrain?
Audi has been fairly general about numbers so far, but word is getting out. The E-Tron SUV has had a range of 249 miles in European testing, reports say. The drive system provides a 221 hp main electric motor on the rear axle and a supplementary one on the front with 181 hp which fills in as demand increases. Zero to sixty is 5.5 seconds, and top speed is 124 mph. The charging system is fairly flexible as to standards, with an 80% in 30 minutes option making even long day-trips fairly easy. The tech can help find charging stations, and Audi provides access to an expanding network of them. Regenerative braking, Audi says, can recapture a large part of kinetic energy which can help extend the SUVs range.
How are the off-road features? Is it an around-town crossover, or an SUV that will take on nature's challenges?
Promotional materials of an E-Tron tackling the Kalahari are showing it in some pretty wild terrain, and it's similar in a lot of ways to a Q5, so drivers should be able to tackle what their journey presents. The driving mode selector includes an "off-road" mode which raises clearance 1.4 inches, another sign of Audi's intentions. Heat pump technology used to balance energy use depending on ambient air temperatures can help the E-Tron tackle more exotic trips.
How's the handling, suspension and steering? Is it good for a casual country drive and city exploring?
With seven driving modes to adapt to conditions and provide the preferred responsiveness for the driver, the Audi E-Tron SUV is ready to ride easily around town or aggressively take on mountain curves. Air springs help not only adjust the clearance but squat for better aerodynamic performance. The electric version of Quattro AWD provides all-weather grip predictively.
What's the interior like? How well appointed is it? What's the cargo space?
Cargo space is 28.5 cu ft; 57 with rear seats folded. The interior is pure Audi, with the latest high-end technology as found in the company's other vehicles. There are three trim levels which vary the leather or fabric interior, with the top level a special 999-unit limited edition including special paint color.
Talk about the infotainment system and related features. Are they up-to-date?
Audi has included its high-end dual-screen infotainment and virtual cockpit system in the E-Tron SUV, with head-up display optional. A 700-watt, 16-speaker Bose surround sound system provides the audio en route. Audi has paid attention to integration of the infotainment system, placing key HVAC controls and other frequently-used touch controls near the shift for easy and safe access.
What are the driver assistance and active safety features? Are they standard or optional?
Buyers can opt for advanced driver assistance and safety technologies from adaptive cruise control which handles curves and road conditions to a 360-degree camera for parking awareness.
What's the exterior and styling like? Is it leaning toward elegant or rugged?
The styling is remarkably similar to models such as the Q5 even though, as one reviewer noted, there's really no need for a grille. It's elegant, with a few details added to suggest electric power including "battery meter" light extensions on the headlights and taillights.
Are there any reasons a gas or hybrid version would still be a better choice besides range?
The performance, comfort, even interior space all say that electric is an excellent choice at this point in time, and that's probably why many luxury vehicle manufacturers are entering the market at this time. Audi has done an excellent job of making the E-Tron SUV unremarkable, which means that it does its job as an Audi even though the underlying technology has significantly changed.