The new Audi e-tron
The new Audi e-tron in Ireland

Caroline drives the 2020 Audi e-tron.

Audi has landed into the world of EVs with a big splash in the form of the flagship Audi e-tron SUV. With a massive 95 kWh battery, the e-tron is a technological achievement, a perfect embodiment of the Vorsprung durch Technik the brand is built upon. Progress through technology, the concept of the new e-tron is undoubtedly big, impressive and optimistic. Audi chose to conceive a large family SUV as the brand’s first ever fully electric production model. The new e-tron will spearhead an electric vehicle (EV) offensive for the brand that will see 12 production Audi e-models by 2025.

But the most important question for most EV buyers right now is – how far will it get me on one charge? While Audi quotes a WLTP range of up to 436 km, this reviewer can tell you that during our real world test during a cold spell in December, we travelled a reliable 300 km on a full charge.

What about performance?

In the metal the e-tron looks like the kind of vehicle that will make the ground shake when you start it up. But no twin turbos under the bonnet here. In fact, there is very little under the bonnet at all! Powerful front and rear electric motors energised by a large high-voltage battery, give the e-tron 55 quattro a power output of 402 hp and 664 Nm of torque and the 0 to 100 km/h sprint figure is 5.7 seconds. When you are swapping stats and stories at the EV fast charger, this will be met with a short intake of breath – but performance is not really the story here.

The interior of the new Audi e-tron
The interior of the new Audi e-tron

For sure the e-tron can move quickly. But what is more impressive and frankly enjoyable about this vehicle is the silky smooth refinement of the car. The way the controls feel, how it covers the tarmac so smoothly and effortlessly, all in silence.

Audi says the drive components are installed low and central for the best dynamic ability with the battery system located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. They say that this configuration makes the Audi e-tron’s centre of gravity similar to that of a saloon car. Axle load distribution is perfectly balanced at almost 50:50.

The Audi e-tron is very clever

Audi drive select allows driver to toggle between seven profiles depending on the driving situation, road conditions or personal preferences. The system also influences the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers. The pneumatic springs adjust individually to the road conditions depending on the speed and the driver’s preferences, varying the ride height by as much as 76 millimetres. At higher, motorway speeds on longer journeys the e-tron can sit lower on the road to improve aerodynamics and range. I drove it in the efficiency mode most of the time, with the most discernible difference being a less responsive throttle.

The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery
The 2020 Audi e-tron 55 quattro is powered by a 95 kWh battery

And when it comes to charging the mighty e-tron, there’s up to 150 kw charging, which I can tell you feels like magic. High speed 150 kw IONITY chargers arrived in Ireland in the summer at select Circle K stations and I’m lucky to have one in my area. There are fast chargers and then there are IONITY chargers. For €8 per use, I went from 10% battery power to 100% in 40 minutes. When I hopped back in the range read 314 km. At home with a 22 kw wallbox a full charge can be got in approximately 4.3 hrs or 8.3 hours with 11 kW charging.

Inside the 2020 Audi e-tron

Priced from €89,810 including grant reductions, the new Audi e-tron is an elite piece of kit. Inside, the e-tron is as salubrious as any other member of the Audi range. It features the latest in Audi interior design with a stunning digital cockpit. Material quality is excellent throughout and the space inside the vehicle is also used well. An electric tailgate reveals a boot volume of 600 litres.

Audi Ireland has also just recently announced the arrival of the Audi e-tron 50 quattro, which uses a 71 kWh battery and starts from €64,990 with a shorter WLTP range of 336 km.

The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions
The new e-tron 55 quattro available from €89,810 including grant reductions

The concept of the Audi e-tron is a true showstopper. Audi’s flagship electric SUV is a fantastic debut with the convenience of 150 kw charging and a genuine 300 km of real world range.

While the stats from the high voltage battery are impressive, the packing of this EV technology means that there is no denying the car feels heavy on the road and you will be acutely aware of carrying your battery when slowing down at a junction or for a roundabout. Dynamically, the e-tron does little to excite.

But the execution of this vehicle’s premium attributes, the attention to detail in the way it’s been designed and built, and the smoothness of the cabin and ride is highly seductive. Hell, it’s an Audi after all. You will enjoy this car.

For eco-conscious trendsetters and EV evangelists, the e-tron brings huge bragging rights.

Caroline Kidd and the Audi e-tron
Caroline and the Audi e-tron

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi e-tron 55 quattro
Price: 
From €89,810 (including grants)
Battery: 95 kWh
Power: 
402 bhp
Torque: 664 Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
0 g/km
Motor tax: 
€120 per year