The German marque says the e-tron SUV is its first “fully electric production model”, perhaps forgetting about the unsuccessful Audi R8 e-tron. Nevertheless, the e-tron SUV is certainly the marque’s first mass-production EV and acts as a direct rival to the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Tesla Model X.
Powering the Audi e-tron SUV are two asynchronous motors that work alongside a generous 95 kWh battery pack. Audi hasn’t released horsepower and torque figures but says the SUV accelerates from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 5.5 seconds and continues through to a 124 mph (200 km/h) top speed.
The vehicle’s electric motors are about much more than performance, however. Audi has developed an innovative recuperation system for them which allows the electric motors to recover energy when the driver releases the accelerator and when the brake pedal is depressed. On average, this recuperation system is responsible for as much as 30 per cent of the e-tron’s range depending on the driving conditions.
Speaking of range, Audi’s press material curiously fails to mention how far the e-tron SUV can travel on a single charge. According to reports, it is roughly 250 miles (402 km).
Audi has introduced electric all-wheel drive on the vehicle. This new system allows for optimal traction in all conditions and can redistribute torque between the axles without a fraction of a second. What’s more, the e-tron SUV also makes use of advanced torque vectoring as well as an innovative traction control system that regulates wheel slip by the millisecond.
Seven different driving modes are on offer, ranging from comfortable through to efficient and distinctively sporty. Depending on road speed and how the vehicle is being driven, the suspension system can adjust the vehicle’s ride height by up to 76 mm (3-inches). On long journeys, the ride height will drop to improve air flow, for example.
In an industry first, the e-tron’s 95 kWh battery pack supports DC fast charging of up to 150 kW at selection high-speed public charging stations. This allows the battery to be topped up to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes. Owners in the United States will benefit from the VW Group’s Electrify America network of charging stations which will include nearly 500 locations across the country by July 2019.
All up, the vehicle measures 193 inches long (4900 mm), 76.3 inches wide (1930 mm), and 65.5 inches high (1666 mm). Audi says the e-tron can comfortably seat five adults in a spacious cabin loaded with tech. As we discovered in the lead-up to the vehicle’s premiere, one of its standout features are the available Virtual Mirrors. This system consists of small cameras in place of the traditional mirrors which send live images to small displays in the vehicle’s door panels.
Buyers in the United States will have three versions to choose from. The entry-level model, dubbed Premium Plus, starts at $74,800. Next in the range is the Prestige from $81,800, complete with additional features like a heads-up display, Driver Assistance package, rear window sunshades, Valcona Leather, and memory settings for the front passenger seat.
Topping out the range is the Audi e-tron SUV First Edition. Starting at $86,700, it includes the same features as the Premium Plus and Prestige but adds bespoke 21-inch wheels, Dynamic orange paint brake calipers, wooden inlays throughout the cabin, Night Vision Assistant, and more. Just 999 units of the First Edition will be sold in the United States.