BY BRIAN BYRNE
ONCE again to the electric car space this week, with the Audi e-tron 55 quattro taking its place in the growing number of e-cars on my review list.
It’s a big car, sitting in size a bit below the Audi Q7 and a fair bit ahead of the Q5. Lower than the larger car, it also has a bit more styling to it, so overall is quite a handsome addition to any driveway. The boot capacity is substantially more than the Q7’s.
The distinguisher as an electric is the closed grille, which is also smaller that the style favoured by Audi for its other SUVs, and that gives it a friendlier ‘face’ as far as I’m concerned.
Inside there’s the full level of big-car premium finish that you’d need to have for the bucks you shell out on the e-tron. Part leather seats with power adjustment, a high-end sound system, lots of space especially in the back seats, and more.
When I first saw the e-tron at a static reveal, I noted that it was designed to look more or less like any SUV from the brand, especially inside. Without the optional virtual side mirrors I saw then.
I should mention that, though I didn’t drive a car with them, I don’t think I’d much care for the virtual camera-video system. There’s something about looking in a real mirror that gives you a better sense of perspective and distance than any video screen will provide.
Anyhow, there’s still plenty of digital, including the ‘cockpit’ main instruments screen with customisable view of navigation and other elements that we’re used to from other models in the brand’s range.
The central infotainment screen is set in the middle of the dashboard rather than protruding above. Below that is another digital touchscreen, for climate control and other stuff. To be honest, I’d prefer just one, and anyhow regular readers will know my aversion to too many screen controls instead of real knobs and switches.
But the car is otherwise seriously well presented, and nobody on board will want for creature comforts.
They certainly won’t be upset by noise, as travel in the e-tron is uncannily quiet. I wasn’t surprised at the lack of engine noise, obviously, but certainly all road and wind noise which would otherwise be very noticeable just wasn’t there.
The mechanicals of the e-tron are dual electric motors, one on each axle and thus providing this car’s version of ‘quattro’ all-wheel-drive. The combine output of 360hp offers an effortless 0-100km/h in 6.6s, once again showing the inherent advantage of instant torque from an electric drive.
The WLTP range of my review car was rated at 328km, a figure that was quite comfortable for most of my driving. I did need to charge it towards the end of my week, and that turned out to be a bit of a hassle. Not the car’s fault — apart from the fact that I hadn’t realised it had a charging port on both front wings, one for fast charging.
The real issue was that the big new high-capacity ESB unit at my local Circle K didn’t seem to have been properly commissioned, so I wasted a good half-hour trying to get the car connecting.
Anyhow, I eventually got going at the smaller unit beside it. In 35 minutes I got some 94kms into the ‘tank,’ which was all the extra I needed for the driving I was going to do getting it back to base. If the high capacity unit had been working, I could have had 100kms in ten minutes.
Generally, though, the charging anxiety for me is gone. If I had a home charger, leaving every morning with 330kms or so range, I’d likely only need public charging capability once in a blue moon.
The big bang for the e-tron, though, is the price. My review car stood at €99,810 out of the box. Then there was €400 for a skinny spare wheel, and another €35 for a tool kit and jack if you want to change it yourself. Though you probably wouldn’t ...
What I like: A cracking good car, in its price bracket. Price: As tested, €100,245.
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