The Audi e-tron has both the blessing and the curse of being one of the first fully electric luxury vehicles produced by a major automaker, rubbing shoulders with the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X as the industry’s first luxury electric SUVs. As the industry’s electrification rate has improved, we have seen prices drop and ranges climb.
The e-tron’s exterior design language is reminiscent of the rest of the Audi SUV lineup. In many ways, the original e-tron is just a slightly more athletic copy of Audi’s Q8 SUV. It wasn’t meant to be a new beginning for the brand or even a drastic departure from the norm. Truly, the only real changes in the car’s shape and design are a slightly closed-off grille panel and a few extra contour lines carved into the car’s top and side paneling. The same styling goes for the e-tron’s sister car, the e-tron Sportback, a hatchback version of the car that nods to the brand’s rich history of sporty station wagons. Overall, the e-tron’s design ensures that electrification doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, and for Audi, it means doubling down on what made their cars great in the first place.
The e-tron’s interior has a maximalist approach to interior design compared to the industry’s stark, minimalist tendencies.
The sprawling technological showcase includes three generous screens, a melange of buttons, branding, and shifters that unabashedly takes up space. Its arrangement is playful and not found in another EV.
Due to the car’s flat electric platform, the floors are completely flat, allowing plenty of space even in the back seat’s dreaded middle seat, with extra room in the trunk for generous cargo space. With the seats up, the cargo space adds up to 29 cubic feet of storage space, which becomes 57 cubic feet with the back seats down. That’s enough to carry a full-sized bicycle in the trunk with the wheels attached. There are other features as well, including the optional heads-up display and massaging seats.
While the e-tron enjoys a myriad of comforts and familiar design qualities, its battery range is its main setback. At 222 miles for the regular version and just 218 for the e-tron Sportback, it has one of the shortest battery ranges in the crossover market segment. Yet, the e-tron uses a regenerative braking system and 150 kW fast charging capabilities that recharge the battery from 10%-80% in just 30 minutes.
The dual-motor AWD drivetrain offers quickness and power. The regular e-tron does 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds with an engine output of 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft torque, although putting the car in sport mode allows for a launch setting that briefly unlocks 402 horsepower and 490 lb-ft. Audi also offers a supercharged S model that uses its 469 horsepower 717 lb-ft of torque boosted engine to launch itself to a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds.
The Audi e-tron is armed with safety and driver assistance features, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. Other nifty features include automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, and a 3D overhead view of the car. The Audi e-tron is priced starting at $67,095, with the Sportback edition starting at $70,295, which plants it firmly in the luxury crossover market.
The German carmaker’s electrification initiative is only just beginning, with promises to halt the development of internal combustion cars by 2026 and sell only EVs by 2030 on the horizon. Yet, if the e-tron is anything to go by, the brand is staying true to its roots. The familiar design choices and comfortable styling clearly remind the Audi brand doesn’t need a seismic shift to retain the solid automaking tradition they’ve been cultivating for decades.