Audi’s all-electric SUV will take on the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC when it arrives in US showrooms in 2019.
Audi has announced its first production all-electric vehicle, the E-Tron midsize SUV. While we've seen the "E-Tron" moniker for Audi's prior plug-in hybrid offerings, not to mention a whole bunch of concepts, this full-fledged EV promises to give the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace, to say nothing of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC and Porsche Taycan, a run for their money.
The E-Tron is powered by a pair of electric motors, though Audi's preliminary press information does not confirm any exact power output. Instead, the company says the E-Tron will be able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, which is respectably quick for a midsize SUV, and will hit a top speed of 124 mph. A 95-kilowatt-hour battery stores the go-go juice, and Audi's initial press release does not confirm overall driving range. Considering the competition can go anywhere from 240 to 295 miles on a charge, Audi should be aiming for the top end of that spectrum. We should have official confirmation following the E-Tron's public debut in San Francisco this week.
Exact charging times are also unknown, Audi's official information simply saying the E-Tron "debuts a DC fast charging capability of up to 150 kW available at select high-speed public charging stations," and that "this capability can deliver up to an 80-percent charge in only approximately 30 minutes." The E-Tron's 9.6-kW AC Level 2 charger, meanwhile, will be able to "deliver a fresh charge overnight."
Regardless of charging method, drivers can expect a big boost from regenerative braking. Audi estimates 90 percent of braking energy will be recuperated, keeping drivers out on the road longer.
Should you find yourself with a bit of range anxiety, the standard navigation system in Audi's excellent MMI infotainment will show a suggested route with charging points, taking both the battery's charge and traffic conditions into account.
Audi's Virtual Cockpit infotainment tech is standard on the E-Tron. This system is one of our favorites, thanks to its high-resolution display and ability to bring navigation maps front and center. Like the new A6 and A7, the E-Tron gets a pair of screens in the center console. The larger upper screen measures 10 inches and is used for most functions including phone, media, navigation and E-Tron settings. The lower 8.6-inch screen is used for HVAC settings and text input. By incorporating these two screens with Virtual Cockpit, nearly all conventional switches have been eliminated.
Like the A8, US-spec E-Trons will not get the Level 3 semi-automated capability of Traffic Jam Pilot. Instead, a less robust adaptive cruise control system will be optional. This tech can keep the E-Tron centered in the lane and at a set distance behind a lead car, but it requires hands on the wheel at all times. The system can adjust its speed, taking into account local speed limits and upcoming turns in the road. What really stands out, however, is its ability to function in a Comfort or Sport style, depending on the selected drive mode.
Measuring 16 feet long, the E-Tron promises to strike a commanding pose on the road once it comes to market in 2019. Though a grille isn't functionally needed for an EV, Audi chose to keep at least a facsimile of an octagonal-shaped opening, done up in platinum gray to signify its EV status.
Lighting plays an important role in the overall design of the E-Tron. In front, the LED headlights are accented by four horizontal bars for a unique daytime running light signature. Out back, a horizontal lightstrip runs the full width of the car, reminiscent of the new A7 and A8.
Inside, expect to find plenty of premium materials. A panoramic sunroof is standard, as is four-zone air conditioning. Available multi-contoured massaging seats should keep passengers calm and comfy while commuting.
Behind the rear seats, Audi says the E-Tron boasts 28.5 cubic feet of space, more than the Jaguar I-Pace. Fold those rear seats down and that expands to 57 cubes. Sounds good, but the E-Tron dwarfed by the 88 cubic feet available in the slightly longer Model X.
Pricing starts at $74,800, not including $995 for destination. The entry-level Premium Plus trim comes with 20-inch wheels, a 360-degree camera, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, heated and cooled 12-way adjustable front seats and a full leatherette interior package. The higher-grade Prestige trim starts at $81,800 and adds a head-up display, driver assistance package, massaging front seats, a Valcona leather interior and dual-pane acoustic front and side windows.
If you want to feel super-special, a limited First Edition trim starts at $86,700 and adds 21-inch wheels, a unique Daytona Gray paint job, orange exterior trim, black Valcona leather interior with wood inlays. Only 999 First Edition units will come to the United States.
The 2019 Audi E-Tron will hit our shores during the second quarter of 2019. You can reserve yours now with a refundable deposit of $1,000.
Regenerative brakes: Check out our first experience with the E-Tron's heavy-duty brake regeneration system -- on Pikes Peak!
Battery tech: We take a closer look at the batteries beneath Audi's E-Tron.
Side mirror cameras: Take a closer look at Audi's trick mirror tech, and learn why the US won't get it just yet.