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The Audi e-tron is an all-electric SUV that blends luxury with cutting-edge technology.

14 Dec 2018


From the eyes of a casual observer, the Audi e-tron would seem like your regular SUV.

But lo and behold, this SUV that you see here is anything but.

The Audi e-tron is the first all-electric SUV that's aimed at the heart of the premium market. And while it's the first, it won't be the last.

The carmaker will be introducing another two more - the e-tron Sportback in late 2019 and the sporty e-tron GT in 2020. The latter was recently showcased the L.A. Motor Show.

Taillights are connected by a light strip that stretches across the width

You were mentioning about the first all-electric SUV?

Speaking of showcase, the new e-tron looks and feels like a technical powerhouse, thanks to its pregressive technology. There's just no denying how advance-looking this electric SUV is, with its high-resolution dual screens of 10.1-inch taking centre stage and 8.6-inch just below it.

Even more advance-looking are its optional sleek wing mirrors that has rearview images shown on high-contrast 7.0-inch OLED displays by the doors. And, mind you, they aren't just for the sake of form.

Always having an eye towards function, these futuristic wing mirrors contribute to the e-tron's low drag coefficient (Cd) by 0.01 to 0.27Cd. While this may seem ridiculously insignificant, the fact is that a hundredth of the Cd figure contributes to a range of an additional 5km under everyday driving conditions.

Virtual mirrors will be an option when the car arrives end of next year

What's the range like then?

Of course, should you decide not to have the wing mirrors on the e-tron, you'll still get to enjoy 400km of range (WLTP cycle) on the electric SUV, thanks to the 95kWh lithium-ion battery that's intelligently packed into 36 modules within the vehicle's wheelbase.

Being able to recover energy by means of coasting recuperation helps with the range, too. The level of recuperation is controlled by the paddle shifters that act as gear shifters in a regular internal combustion vehicle. Depress the left paddle and the regenerative braking strengthens, increasing the amount of deceleration that occurs when you lift your right foot off the accelerator.

In fact, lifting off the right pedal or when the brake is depressed allows the Audi e-tron to recuperate up to 220kW (295bhp) electric power and 300Nm of twisting force. This is more than 70% of its operating energy output.

Our test car came with biggish but appealing 21-inch wheels

What about its output?

On the move, the Audi e-tron is capable of 265kW (355bhp) and 561Nm of torque in normal conditions and it is capable of boosting to a maximum output of 300kW (402bhp) and a whopping 664Nm for bursts of up to eight seconds. This authorises the SUV to finish the century sprint in 5.7 seconds, which is even faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch.

Just as well, because during our time in Abu Dhabi with the car, such bursts can be useful, especially when you're driving on long straight roads when it can get relatively boring.

Less boring, however, is when we're man-handling the car round the curvy roads up the mountain. That the Audi e-tron has sizeable proportions does not matter one bit because it handles more like a hot hatch rather than an SUV.

Thanks to its instantaneous acceleration, the Audi e-tron will go from point to point in a very quick manner

Steering is precise and well-weighted, with a taut chassis setup that eliminates body roll even as you're driving from corner to corner at high speeds. Couple all these with an acceleration that is instantaneous, darting from one end to the other is as easy as breathing.

Also easy is the way the Audi e-tron behaves like an off-roader in the vast desert. Toggle the Drive Select to Off-Road mode and the air suspension evens out any bumps and ruts you encounter, and allows for the suspension to elevate up to 35mm for better ground clearance.

Hell, there is even a 'Lift' mode that will raise the car by another 15mm! According to Sebastian Dingert, one of the Product Marketing guys from Audi, this will allow the Audi e-tron to wade through water of up to 300mm deep.

It may be a handsome-looking road-going Audi, but it's capable of the rough stuff too

It is a true blue Audi and more

Size-wise, the new e-tron sits between the Audi Q5 and the Q7, with a design that's similar to the rest of the models in the carmaker's lineup. That's to be expected, really, considering the electric SUV is based on the same MLB Evo platform as the Q5.

And because of that, you can expect top notch luxury and craftsmanship on the inside, with a familiar mechanical layout.

This means you'll get to enjoy a full-on 2,928mm wheelbase five-seater configuration with a generous boot space of 660 litres at the back and 60 litres under the front hood - more than sufficient for a trip up north (and on a single charge!).

660 litres of boot space will see to your weekly grocery needs with ease

Audi, electric car has never looked so good

At an estimated price of close to $400,000, the Audi e-tron electric SUV will be targeted at premium buyers who aren't just well-heeled but also boldly green.

With such a complete SUV, you cannot help but wonder how the other two electric vehicles will fare when they go into production.

The Audi e-tron is slated to arrive on our shores in the third quarter of 2019.
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