Audi Australia has launched its first ever full-electric series production vehicle, the e-tron with an impressive blend of advanced engineering, technology and luxury.
Audi e-tron is full-sized with the choice of a SUV or four-door coupe bodies around the same dimensions as the Q7 and A7 models. The e-tron SUV is sold as the e-tron quattro and hatchback as the e-tron Sportback.
Quattro all-wheel drive is standard in all e-tron variants.
Audi has resisted the temptation to make the new e-tron models distinctively different from the rest of its range. Only a louvred version of its single frame active grille, which can open and close to improve aerodynamic performance, sets it apart from its conventionally-powered cousins.
Airflow is further improved with the bottom of the vehicles being completely flat. There is the option of what Audi call Virtual Mirrors which replace the conventional side mirrors with a narrow streamlined stalk holding a small camera which projects images onto a 7-inch display at the base of each A-pillar.
The combination of these and other features give the e-tron 55 a drag coefficient of 0.28.
The new e-tron is powered by electric motors with power electronics within the front and rear axles each linked to a liquid cooled lithium-ion battery under the floor of the vehicle.
The motors in the e-tron 50 can store up to 71 kWh of energy from its 27 modules and generate up to 230 kW of power and 540 Nm of torque.
The larger e-tron 55 stores up to 95 kW from 36 modules with outputs of 265 kW and 561 Nm which can be increased to 300 kW and 665 Nm with a Boost function that can be activated in Sport mode.
The all-important range figures, based on the new WLTP emissions regulations, is at least 300 kilometres with the e-tron 50 and 400 km from the e-tron 55.
Energy recovery when decelerating and braking extends the range between charges. In the e-tron 55 this can return up to 220 kW and 300 Nm, or 30 per cent back into the battery.
Also increasing range, up to 30 per cent, is a thermal management system that wraps a cooling blanket around each of the battery modules and pumps cool air around them.
Note that these factors are built into the 300 km / 400 km range figures.
Both e-tron models feature charging ports on each side of the vehicles, an AC point on the passenger’s side and both AC and DC points on the driver’s side. A 66-litre storage area under the bonnet provides a convenient location for the charging cables.
The torque delivery from the batteries provides all e-tron models with a maximum towing capacity of 1800 kg.
For a limited period Audi Australia, in conjunction with JET Charge, is offering free home or business installation of an 11 kW charging unit which can charge the e-tron 55 variants from empty to full in 8.5 hours, and the smaller e-tron 50 in 6 hours.
As well as JET Charge, Audi has partnered with ChargeFox to provide a six-year free subscription to its ultra-fast charging network.
The rapidly expanding ChargeFox network already has enough locations to allow EVs to drive all the way from Cairns to Adelaide. Charging times vary but with the high performance 150kW DC fast-charging (120kW for e-tron 50) option 80 per cent capacity can be reached in just 30 minutes, or a full charge in only 45 minutes.
Where available Ultra-Rapid 350 kW chargers can fully charge the batteries in just 15 minutes.
The Audi e-tron comes with an eight-year /160,000 kilometre warranty on the drivetrain. Importantly each individual battery module can be replaced both during and after the warranty period to avoid the one-off cost of replacing the entire battery.
Audi’s customer support package includes six years of scheduled servicing, including a free loan car where required and six years of roadside assistance.
In addition to the standard features of Audi’s connect plus navigation and infotainment system there are e-tron items. These including route planning either through the MMI interface or the myAudi smartphone app.
On long trips the system calculates when charging is required and at what stages along the journey that it should take place. It also draws on live information about charger speeds and space availability at the charging sites.
As well as the free charging the installation launch offer a special First Edition of the e-tron 55 quattro vehicles is being offered in both SUV and Sportback body styles. Additional equipment includes the virtual side mirrors; S sport front seats; unique 21-inch alloy wheels; orange brake calipers; matrix LED headlights; black exterior styling elements; head-up display; and a 705W Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
Other features are available with Premium plus and Premium interior options packages.
The e-tron 55 quattro SUV we tested is a large vehicle that was easy to access and with plenty of interior space in all dimensions.
Being battery powered there was instant torque supply for sharp getaways and for overtaking.
Electric vehicles by their very nature, with no engine noise, are inherently quiet but Audi has taken this to an extra level with its refined aero-acoustics and laminated windows minimising wind and road noise.
The drive route along the monotonously flat Hume Motorway wasn’t especially conducive to brake recuperation although we did maximise the effect wherever possible with the steering wheel paddles allowing us to drive with a single pedal.
We’ll make sure we take the e-tron into more suitable terrain when we conduct our extended road test.
The drive program included a stop-off at the ChargeFox charging station at Goulburn, not surprisingly given its location on the route from Sydney to Melbourne the company’s busiest.
Using one of the three Ultra-Rapid charging stations we were back on the road, fully charged – with both battery power and coffee – in around 25 minutes.
The new Audi e-tron adds a new dimension to the electrification of Australian EV roads. It’s a large, comfortable cruiser and with a starting price of $137,100 for the SUV variants it’s only about 35 per cent above the equivalent entry level Q7.
Factor in the fuel savings, especially if you have convenient access to ChargeFox stations with the free six-year subscription, then it offers good value.
Then there’s the satisfaction of knowing that you’re putting zero carbon emissions into the fragile environment.
AT A GLANCE
e-tron 50 quattro 230 kW: $137,700
e-tron 55 quattro 230kW: $146,700
e-tron Sportback 50 quattro 230 kW: $148,700
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro 265 kW: $157,700
e-tron 55 quattro First Edition 265kW: $159,600
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro First Edition 265 kW: $169,950
Premium plus package: $9,700 (e-tron, $6,700 (e-tron Sportback)
Premium interior package: $2,950 (e-tron)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi e-tron dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi e-tron 55 electric five-door wagon)
Maximum Power: 300 kW
Maximum Torque: 561 Nm
Fuel Type: Not applicable
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): Not applicable
CO2 Emissions: 03 g/km
DRIVELINE: Not applicable
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4901 mm
Wheelbase: 2928 mm
Width: 1935 mm
Height: 1616 mm
Turning Circle: 12.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 2490 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: Not applicable
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres
Eight years on batteries