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2019 Audi E-Tron electric SUV blazes a trail in the Kalahari

The African desert may be just about the last place you'd expect to find an EV, but it makes for a good time.

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Chris Paukert
2020 Audi E-Tron electric SUV in Namibia
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The middle of the Kalahari is an awfully long way from an EV charger.

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Fortunately, with a 95-kW battery, the 2019 E-Tron figures to have somewhere between 240-295 miles of range.

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An all-new two-motor Quattro all-wheel-drive system generates up to 402 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque in bursts.

Independently, the front motor generates 168 hp and 182 pound-feet, while the rear motor is rated at 188 horsepower and 231 pound feet. 

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Audi says 0-60 mph happens in 5.5 seconds, and top speed is listed at 124 mph.

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Thanks to advanced power electronics and braking hardware and smooth electric power delivery, the E-Tron is easy to drift on a Namibian salt pan.

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Handling is neutral and very friendly, with the E-Tron boasting near 50/50 weight distribution.

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Given our desert location, it's a shame there's no provision for solar charging.

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Yes, sliding through a salt pan is extreme use, but this level of balance and control should help ensure everyday driving confidence, too.

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Crazy wrap job aside, the E-Tron's styling is familial and arguably a bit too derivative of Audi's conventional line of Q SUVs.

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Come spring of 2019, your local Audi dealer may look a little bit like this.

(Minus the wrap. And the palm trees. And the dirt road).

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Our off-road testing was modest, and in strict formation, but we still conquered more demanding conditions than most suburb-crawling SUVs ever will.

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Standard ground clearance is 6.8 inches, but standard air suspension can raise or lower the chassis by up to 3 inches as needs dictate.

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Keep clicking or scrolling for dozens more awesome photos of the 2019 Audi E-Tron.

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