It’s a sorry state of the world when each new entry into the premium EV phase is inevitably and near-exclusively in contrast with fashions from a single producer. And you recognize which producer I’m referring to. Tesla created that phase and deserves plenty of credit score for doing so, however now that there are some authentic emissions-free choices on the market, it is time to cease in search of “Tesla killers” and begin appreciating every new mannequin in its personal proper. In that spirit, at the moment I’d wish to rejoice the $74,800 Audi E-Tron, a automotive I’ve been appreciating for almost two months now. Audi’s first manufacturing electrical automotive takes a subtly totally different however distinctive path to all-electric glory. There’s nothing ludicrous about this EV SUV and, frankly, I could not care much less what its Nurburgring lap time is. What I do know is that that is among the many most snug, most soothing vehicles I’ve ever had the privilege of driving, and that makes it one thing particular.
It’s OK to calm down I like EVs for the best way they effortlessly zip away from site visitors lights. Put an electrical motor into even fundamental rides just like the Kia Soul and also you get a machine much more enjoyable to drive than earlier than. The Audi E-Tron has that spirit as effectively. With 402 horsepower and a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.5 seconds, the E-Tron is correctly fast for an enormous (193 inches lengthy), heavy (over 5,800 kilos) rig.
Still, it is no sports activities automotive. The Audi’s adaptive air suspension hunkers down when put into Dynamic mode, and the sharper responses are certainly noticeable, nevertheless it’s not a device for attacking the corners. Push the E-Tron onerous and also you shortly notice you are doing it unsuitable. A extra relaxed tempo is suggested.
Instead, dial the automotive into Comfort mode and make the most of its supple suspension tuning. You’ll nonetheless have all of the torque and throttle response you will ever want, however jetting away from each gentle is simply going to kill your vary. Take it straightforward, benefit from the plush, massaging seats and the cocoonlike cockpit, and you may begin to see what this automotive is all about.
About the vary No, you possibly can’t actually purchase an EV today with out finding out its efficient vary, however in my guide the Audi E-Tron’s 204-mile EPA ranking simply barely crosses the edge the place most drivers will not have to fret about vary nervousness. In my time with the automotive I did not really feel the necessity to obsessively cost it each night time. In truth, your common American commuter would solely have to cost it as soon as per week. Impressively, that vary holds regular even below freeway use. I’ve pushed many an EV over time and I are inclined to subtract 30% from the rated vary once I know I’ve an extended high-speed stretch forward of me — simply to be secure. On these stretches the E-Tron was nonetheless in a position to handle over 180 miles. The effectivity comes right down to an terrible lot of things, together with battery thermal administration, chemistry and simply how aggressively the automotive makes use of its pack. One factor the E-Tron does not depend on is regeneration. At least, not like different EVs do. Lift off the fuel in a Nissan Leaf and, if in case you have the e-pedal mode enabled, it shortly brings itself to a whole cease, changing momentum into cost. By default, the E-Tron simply coasts. Using the shift paddles on the wheel you possibly can request extra regen, as much as three faucets’ value, however even at its most setting the E-Tron remains to be fairly completely happy to coast. There is much more regen on provide, however to get to it you will want to maneuver your foot over to the brake pedal and begin urgent. Not an enormous inconvenience, however for anybody used to one-pedal driving it is an annoyance. It additionally leads to a really mushy, very lengthy brake pedal that, after greater than 3,000 miles of testing, I nonetheless wrestle to use cleanly.
The worst half? Whenever you have interaction the E-Tron’s cruise management it forgets your regen setting, toggling it again to the default coast. That’s so annoying I’d go as far as to name it a bug, not a function. When you do run out of vary it is time to cost, and the E-Tron can hoover up the juice at a fee of as much as 150 kilowatts, ought to you end up an appropriate DC charger. Thanks to the fast growth of Electrify America, that is getting simpler to do. In optimum circumstances, you possibly can add about 50 miles to a near-empty pack in simply 10 minutes. An 80% cost, or about 160 miles, ought to take a couple of half hour.
How a lot will that price? Rates range, however I introduced a near-empty E-Tron to my native EA charger, hooked it as much as the quickest plug and let it go to full. My cost was a whopping $58.95. Again, that is for about 200 miles of vary. For comparability’s sake, to get that a lot vary in a 20-mpg SUV you’d want 10 gallons of fuel, for a median value proper now of simply over $30 utilizing premium gas. Yes, half the fee. Thankfully, most will not be utilizing Electrify America chargers each day. An in a single day cost on a level-two charger at house is a much more frugal $12 based mostly on common dwelling utility charges. And for now, at the least, you would be sensible to cost at dwelling. I had an… unlucky incident at an Electrify America station that left me stranded there for two hours when the automotive refused to launch the cable and the under-hood emergency launch additionally failed. Audi has promised a software program repair is coming, nevertheless it’s value noting that the E-Tron normally will lock onto any cable you plug into it whenever you lock the doorways. This is problematic in the event you ever have to share a charger. At one level, the E-Tron’s charging port did not wish to let go.
A secure house As an EV, the E-Tron must be quiet, and certainly it’s. Other than an sometimes creaky hinge on the armrest of the automotive I examined, there’s little to distract from the serenity of the expertise within the E-Tron. The massaging seats, whereas not as complete as these on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or as aggressive as these on the BMW 7 Series, are very appreciated, whereas the heating and cooling performance ensures that the automotive’s battery pack is not the one onboard part stored inside its optimum thermal vary. The 705-watt, 16-speaker B&O sound system handles every little thing from Bach to The Beatles with aplomb, there are two separate signature scents to pick from and the inside lighting can tinted to any hue you want — assuming you possibly can keep in mind the place to seek out the choice buried within the contact interface. That interface is Audi’s newest: MMI Touch Response. Ditching the rotary controller, the system has now unfold throughout two touchscreens. The decrease is primarily the place you will management the local weather features, whereas the higher handles the remainder of the infotainment duties together with media playback, car settings and navigation, nonetheless among the many most complete on the street because of the tight Google Maps integration. If all that is not sufficient, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are only a USB cable away. Behind the wheel rests yet one more show, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, one of many first programs to essentially embrace the ability of a reconfigurable gauge cluster and nonetheless among the many greatest. Here you possibly can double up on navigation in the event you like or get extra details about your present driving habits and consumption. Annoyingly, although, you possibly can’t get a particular share of battery cost remaining inside Virtual Cockpit. To discover that you might want to dig a number of submenus deep over on the primary MMI interface. Accommodations in again aren’t fairly so posh however they’re nonetheless snug, with loads of room and discreetly positioned local weather controls. The glass roof means sitting again right here is an open, ethereal expertise. My 6-foot, short-legged body wasn’t missing for headroom.
On the protection facet, the E-Tron comes with a complete suite of programs that can preserve you secure and in addition deal with a number of the extra menial elements of driving. The energetic cruise system does a superb job of studying site visitors far sufficient down the street to make sure moderately light stops and, as soon as halted, will resume robotically if site visitors begins flowing once more inside a number of seconds. This could be very a lot a hands-on system, nevertheless it’s a superb one and, because of the capacitive contact steering wheel, you needn’t fear about jiggling the factor each 30 seconds or so to maintain the warnings away. You will, nevertheless, must reside with out steering-wheel heating, which is an enormous lacking piece for an EV. Competition If you are anticipating a prolonged comparability of options versus the Tesla Model S and Model X I’m going to must disappoint you, as I genuinely wrestle to check the E-Tron with these vehicles in any significant approach past vary. And, frankly, if vary is your high precedence, purchase the Tesla and do not look again. It’s an important automotive and you may in all probability adore it. However, in the event you prioritize issues like inside consolation and journey high quality, or extra nuanced elements like dealership assist and repair availability, then we’ll must look to different, gasoline-powered members of the premium phase. Within the Audi household, the E-Tron slots in between the Q5 and Q7 SUVs from a purely dimensional standpoint, nevertheless it ought to come as no shock that it is considerably costlier than even the Q7, which begins at $53,550 in Premium trim. However, when it comes to energy and performance, it is a lot nearer to the Q7 Prestige trim, which begins at $67,850. On the BMW facet, the BMW X5 is extra of a correct, upright SUV than the extra laid-back-style E-Tron. Plus, BMW does not provide an electrified model of the X5 right here but. BMW does not promote a 5 Series wagon right here within the US, both, but when it did that’d be one thing to check. That mentioned, the plug-in 530e xDrive sedan definitely offers a lot of the premium feel and appear plus a style of electrification for a extra inexpensive $56,200 value. But, the inside lacks most of the E-Tron’s niceties, whereas the 20 miles of electrical vary will rule it out for anybody who needs to go really emissions-free.
Finally, I ought to after all point out the Jaguar I-Pace. That’s additionally a premium, electrical, five-passenger SUV, however the Jag is much extra sprightly in its execution. That encouragement to go shortly means we have struggled to return near its 234-mile EPA rated vary, typically barely getting over the E-Tron’s ranking. The styling on the Jaguar is definitely extra progressive, however we do not thoughts the understated look of the E-Tron, and you will not discover the identical stage of refinement and creature comforts within the I-Pace. That mentioned, with its beginning value of $69,500, it is another value contemplating. How I’d spec it The present base configuration for the Audi E-Tron is the $74,800 Premium Plus Quattro stage, which does not embrace a $995 vacation spot cost. For that you simply get a really well-equipped automotive, together with all of the MMI goodies, a top-view and 3D digital camera system, that B&O sound system and all of the energetic security programs. An additional $4,300 brings you as much as the Prestige Quattro trim, which provides these massaging seats, soft-closing doorways, the in-cabin ionizer and a heads-up show. Formerly this bundle threw within the $2,850 driver help bundle, however since Audi is now together with that even on the bottom E-Tron, it is Premium Plus for me. $595 is the tax to get any coloration apart from black, whereas one other $900 provides the chilly climate bundle. This contains heated wipers and nozzles, however extra importantly features a higher-capacity heater to assist with preconditioning, one thing that might doubtlessly have vary advantages for these of you residing someplace chilly. I’d be ticking that field. Configured this manner, at $77,290 together with vacation spot, this isn’t an inexpensive automotive. But it provides luxurious appointments on par with equally priced premium machines, plus the added advantages of that clean, quiet, maintenance-free EV way of life.
The Zen of EV possession As you possibly can in all probability inform, I’m fairly keen on the E-Tron. I’m typically the form of driver who assaults a roundabout and I’ll gladly take a detour from the quickest route if it means including some twists and turns to the drive. In the E-Tron, these uncouth urges by no means troubled my commute. After an extended, anxious day of journey I genuinely seemed ahead to slipping behind the wheel of my heat, preconditioned EV and wafting my approach dwelling. This factor ought to include an built-in blood strain monitor in order that homeowners can visualize the well being advantages. I recognize that this isn’t what everybody wishes in a automotive. Likewise, many people is not going to think about an EV with out much more vary. However, for anybody whose vary wants are restricted and who wishes much less adrenaline and extra leisure, this can be a great choice and one hell of a primary EV from Audi.