We drive 2019 Audi e-tron SUVIn the same year, it was planned to be launched in India. However, certain supply chain constraints and delays related to the pandemic meant that this all-electric Audi SUV lost its first-mover advantage. Mercedes-Benz EQC, Launched in 2020, and Jaguar I-Pace It was launched earlier this year. However, these delays may be a blessing in disguise for Audi, because the awareness and acceptance of electric vehicles in the Indian market is much higher than ever before. First, Audi will launch two versions of this all-electric SUV-the e-tron 55 and e-tron 55 Sportback-both of which are powered by a 95kWh battery. The focus of this review will be on the former.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: What is it like?
e-tron is based on the heavily modified MLB Evo platform, which is also the basis for products such as Q5 and Q7. This 5-seater e-tron is similar in size to the 7-seater Q7, with a length of more than 5m, a width of close to 2m, and a wheelbase of 2.9m, so it has a clear size advantage in the competition.
The enclosed hexagonal area at the front imitates Audi’s traditional grille design.
Audi uses the traditional styling method (inside and outside) on the e-tron, so although it looks sharp, it does not scream “electric” in its design language. This is done to make buyers feel at home when transitioning from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. The eye-catching feature is a large enclosed hexagonal area with a gray finish imitating the standard Audi front grille. Stylish headlights and 20-inch wheels add some charm to its design. For India, we got a standard exterior mirror setup instead of the futuristic but fancy dual external camera setup we experienced in international iterations .
Lurking behind the alloy is a huge 18-inch disc that provides impressive braking power.
What is unique is that Audi provides charging facilities on both sides of the car, and the cool thing is the way the flip slides down electrically when the button is pressed. What gave up its all-electric status was the green license plate (mandatory for electric vehicles in India), as well as the e-tron badge and orange highlights on the brake calipers.
Uniquely, the e-tron has charging devices on both sides of the front fender.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: What does it look like inside?
Continuing the traditional styling concept from the outside and stepping into the e-tron cabin, you will immediately find the design features and parts shared with other Audis, which is not a bad thing. The absolute quality and fit of the interior are top-notch, and there is no low-rent area in this Audi cabin. The neat, layered instrument panel wraps nicely around the cabin, seamlessly flowing into the entry pad. The most striking detail is the dual-screen setup-one for infotainment and the other for climate control, both tilted towards the driver. The screen has a clear display and tactile feedback option (slight vibration) when “pressing”. What enhances the futuristic sense of e-tron’s interior is the excellent virtual cockpit (fully digital instrument panel), which is one of the best units in terms of display quality and ease of use.
The wide front seats have firm cushioning, so you won’t get caught in them. The dark gray seat color is very business, while brighter inserts or colored stitching will make the interior more vivid. There is ample storage and charging area in the front, as well as a clever groove area to wirelessly charge the smartphone when placed vertically.
Because of the firm cushioning, the large front seats don’t feel very luxurious.
The back bench is beautifully shaped and the backrest is set at a comfortable angle. The good news is that even if the battery pack has been installed under the floor, the floor will not be too high, so you will neither sit in an uncomfortable knee position nor affect headroom. The seats themselves are wide enough to accommodate three passengers side by side, and the floor is almost flat; however, the protruding air conditioning console obstructs the knee space of the middle passenger.
The rear seats are very comfortable, as is the seat position.
The 660-liter e-tron trunk is large, and the space-saving tires are neatly tucked under the trunk floor, where there is an extra space to store the charging cable. More importantly, in the absence of an engine under the hood, there is an extra suitcase or “luggage” in the front that can store a small soft bag or charging cable.
The luggage space of 660 liters is impressive.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: What functions do you have?
The standard function list of e-tron includes 20-inch wheels, matrix LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, Audi’s virtual cockpit (full digital instrument panel), dual screens-one for infotainment and the other for climate control- Both provide tactile feedback, four-zone climate control, adaptive air suspension, wireless charging, wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a reversing camera. As part of its extensive list of options, including its digital matrix LED headlights, it has a cool trick-besides illuminating the road very well, when you lock or unlock the vehicle, they also perform dramatic light show. The option list also includes onboard air purifiers, perfume, ambient lighting in 30 color options, 16 speakers 705W Bang and Olufsen premium audio system, head-up display, soft closing doors and more. Features such as ventilated seats, wireless phone connections, and connected car technology are completely missing. The panoramic sunroof will not extend all the way to the back, and users seeking more in-depth and annoying EV-related information on the screen will be oversimplified. The display will leave some brief changes.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: How does it feel to drive?
The e-tron 55 obtains energy from a 95kWh battery pack that powers two motors, one for each motor. In the most sporty environment, the e-tron produces 408 horsepower/664 Nm, the front axle produces 184 horsepower, and the rear axle produces 224 horsepower. But in other modes, the power of the e-tron is 360hp/561Nm (170hp at the front and 190hp at the rear).
Immediately, you will be impressed by the gentle response of the electric motor to the bending of your right foot, and you will even forgive Audi for not providing a standard crawl function. Press it again and you will experience the meaning of instant EV torque. Just one bend of the right foot is enough to rush through the slow-moving traffic with the kind of enthusiasm least expected of a 2.6-ton SUV. The acceleration is strong and linear, and it is almost a trivial matter for the e-tron to accelerate quietly and seamlessly. Interestingly, the e-tron will emit a whirring sound during driving, reminding pedestrians and other road users to pay attention to its existence through external speakers.
Switching from D to S, this Audi releases an extra 48hp/103Nm under hard acceleration in supercharged mode. When fully driving, it gallops from 0-100kph at an extremely fast speed of 5.58 seconds. When your feet are fixed on the floor, its maximum speed will reach 207kph.
e-tron has two energy regeneration settings-manual and automatic. What is impressive is the intuitiveness of the automatic mode when you take off. Not only does deceleration feel as natural as in an ICE vehicle, it also cleverly lets the car coast to maximize driving distance, or restore charging and deceleration, all based on driving style and battery status. More importantly, if you need to slow down, you can pull the left paddle, which increases the intensity of regeneration and mimics engine braking in a way that slows the car.
You can turn off regeneration manually or set it to two preset levels. Interestingly, in most cases, even if you do use the brake pedal, the wheel brakes only work when you decelerate quickly (more than 0.3g of force).
Air springs at all four corners ensure a comfortable and well-cushioned ride.
The e-tron rides on the air springs at the four corners and absorbs the road impact very effectively. Even the sharper edges are not as harsh as you think. You are sitting on a 20-inch wheel with short side walls. The driving mode in the car will change the softness of the ride, while in the comfort and efficiency mode, it will become softer, causing some speed fluctuations. However, the “auto” mode balances the suspension’s behavior very well and controls body movement without excessive pitch or swing.
Since e-tron’s 700 kg battery pack is tucked under the cabin floor, its weight is concentrated in a lower position, resulting in a lower center of gravity. Coupled with the balanced 50:50 weight distribution on each axle and Audi’s “quattro” system, this e-tron feels very flexible from behind the wheel and provides great grip. However, its inert steering deprives the feeling of “connectivity”, but in the city, car owners will like its lightness and help bring a relaxed driving experience.
In terms of emergency braking performance, e-tron has its own advantages. Equipped with 18-inch disc brakes (front and rear), the e-tron’s speed dropped from 80-0kph to only 24.09m, which is extraordinary for this 2.6-ton behemoth.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: cruising range and charging
In our standard test, the e-tron 55 can travel 350 kilometers on a full charge in the city cycle and 382 kilometers on the highway. If your battery is very low, there is a “endurance mode” option that can turn off climate control, reduce power consumption, and limit the maximum speed to 90 km/h, which can provide an extra 40-60 km of driving range.
We also tested Audi’s 11kW AC wall charger, which replenishes the e-tron battery by 90% (from 10-100%) in about 8 hours. In addition, we also plugged it into the 25kW Tata Power DC fast charger. In just 15 minutes, it provides enough power to add an additional 25-30 kilometers of cruising range. The price is 106 rupees. The average charging cost at home may be about 750 rupees (0-100%) per charge, taking into account the electricity bill of 8 rupees per unit.
Audi e-tron 55 quattro: Should you buy one?
In order to reach Audi’s annual sales target of 200 vehicles, the e-tron must not only be a very good electric car, but also an ordinary high-end SUV. As the latter, its appearance is spacious and practical, with excellent ride and powerful performance. However, as an electric car, long-distance travel requires careful planning, but as a daily driver in a city, e-tron is sufficient. The real city range of approximately 350 kilometers makes it capable of handling daily traffic jams and can do the job flawlessly. Therefore, if you are looking for a luxury SUV that is easy to drive, you will enjoy driving without the slightest guilt about harmful exhaust emissions, then e-tron is a compelling case. And you have to pay about Rs 1 crore to get this privilege.