Audi's E-Tron brings big, electric comfort to the road
This is not necessarily a Tesla fighter out his first all electric SUV is very much its own thing with a different look and a different feel than anything Tesla has to offer.
Plus an interior that is frankly on another level, but with a relatively meager 204 miles of range and a starting price of about $75,000.
The Tron isn't for everybody.
Is it right for you?
Let's hit the road and find out Okay, so what exactly is the etron?
Well it's a two row five passenger SUV technically but in my eye it fits more in the total wagon template of say an Audi all road than a proper SUV like the Q seven, but it certainly has all the cargo space and practicality of a bigger, taller SUV.
In reality, that elevated driving position here is so much a factor of the car's batteries as any SUV pretenses.
Fitting the battery pack down low has some obvious benefits when it comes to handling as putting the weight of those batteries in the floor means better [UNKNOWN].
But it also means everything in the interior has to go up by a couple of inches elevating the driving position slightly.
Sitting ahead and behind the [UNKNOWN] is a pair of electric motors together providing that quatro branded all wheel drive and a whopping 400 horse power.
From a practicality standpoint that equates to a healthy 4000 pounds of towing.
From a performance standpoint, try zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds.
But really if you're more worried about performance You're looking at the wrong car.
Here's why, the etron will do the zero to 60 sprint in 5.5 seconds which is better than respectable.
That's properly quick especially for an SUV of this size.
But despite having a dynamic mode that honkers the car down to give you better handling, the hurry you push this car into the corner is the more you realize that, that's not really what this car is about.
It just doesn't reward being aggressive.
And that's okay.
Not every car has to be a sports car.
And this car certainly is not a sports car.
What is, is incredibly comfortable.
And honestly, really relaxing.
The suspension is very compliant, it's incredibly quiet in here, and even the engine noise that makes it little speeds, that kinda futuristic [UNKNOWN] I find that to be very relaxing and oddly soothing.
[SOUND] But if there's one part of this call that's maybe a little bit too relaxed for me, it's the Regen breaking.
Regen breaking on an EV is basically what happens when you lift your foot off of the accelerator.
Some cars have very aggressive Regen like the Nissan LEAF which you can basically drive Just one foot, you take your foot off the gas and the car will slow down and come to a complete stop.
And as a person who drives a lot of [UNKNOWN], that's actually what I prefer.
What happens in the E Tron though is well take my foot off the accelerator and nothing It just goes forward like a normal gasoline powered car.
You can request more region by tapping the left paddle here.
But even then in maximum setting, it still doesn't slow down very aggressively when I take my foot off of the gas.
And annoyingly if I set the cruise control and take it back off again, it resets the region back to normal, which is to say no region at all.
So maybe that's a little bit too relaxing, but overall this This is again a very comfortable, very compliant, very nice place to be and a lot of that comes down to the interior.
So let's pull over and take a closer look at that.
[SOUND] There's a lot to talk about inside the e-tron but I want to start with something that we don't typically focus on.
And that's the shifter because it's very distinctive.
This is horizontal bar that looks in the outside, like you might move the whole thing but actually, it's just this chrome piece on the left that you shift, push it forward to go into reverse, pull it back to go into drive and push the button for park on the side.
That's actually a really nice feeling because it's so compact It leaves lots of room in here for this big cubby between the seats which has a wireless charger port for your phone, plus a couple of USB ports too and not one but two touchscreens.
This is outies MMI response and on the bottom we've got mostly HVAC controls.
Setting, temperature I can set the seat heater on or the air conditioned seat if I want to.
But weirdly, the massaging seats are actually controlled, up top, push the button on the side of seat.
And I can give myself a nice invigorating massage.
Everything else in the top is mostly to do with infotainment duties.
I've got everything from media and navigation.
We've got satellite imagery, thanks to Google maps and the active data connection in the car.
We've also got Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility built right in, which is nice too.
But if that's not enough displays for you, there's a third one lurking here behind the steering wheel.
Again, we've got satellite imagery here on outies virtual dashboard but I can toggle through and get all sorts of information about.
Capacity consumption amount of range remaining.
And ultimately, it's a really comprehensive system with three displays and inside of a very nice interior with good materials.
We've got open pour wood here and even such niceties as an air freshener system with two separate sense, I can choose from based on which system and we've got the winter setting going right now.
And it's very invigorating.
All of this, every component in there is miles ahead anything Tesla is putting inside any of their cars.
But then Tesla does have one key advantage.
The Audi Etron has an EPA rated range of 204 miles.
You won't need a calculator to figure out that's significantly less than the newly updated model S long range that I just reviewed, which will now do 370 miles in a charge.
That's not quite twice the range.
But it's awfully close.
Now more range and efficiency are always better and for sure 370 miles is probably enough to bough ranging anxiety from all but the most fickle of drivers.
But I'm declining to say that 200 miles is plenty enough for most.
Especially when that range is as usable as is the range on offer by the E Tron.
Well I found the EPA rating system to be quite accurate in real world usage some the vs far fare worse when faced with their two greatest challenges, highway speed and cold temperatures.
Highway speeds aren't challenged because of the force created by aerodynamic drag, which increases exponentially as the car accelerates.
A small increase in speed means a big increase in drag, and potentially a big decrease in range.
But the E Tron always did a remarkably good job at providing valid estimates for me even when I was spending hours driving down the highway.
And while the E Tron is not immune to range loss in cold weather, as temperatures dropped down to the freezing point, the car was still holding on to between 85 and 90% of its maximum range.
That's far better than much of the competition.
Yes, the Model S long range will still go much farther on a cold day but each on does have one last trick up its sleeve.
This is an Electrify American charger, one of about 2,000 of the company [UNKNOWN] have deployed by the end of the year, spread across about 500 different locations.
Now, that's about a third of the number of chargers that Tesla has deployed, and it's a super charging network does far.
But these suckers, they pack a punch And if you have a half an hour to kill, you can get up to 160.
Sadly then charging speed is going to cost you.
A full charge of the E Tron at an electrify America station at its maximum rate of 100 150 kilowats starting with 5% remaining, cost me a whopping $58.95.
Again, that's for about 200 miles of range.
For comparison's sake to get that much range in a 20 MPG SUV, you'd need about ten gallons of gas.
For an average price right now of just over $30.
And that's assuming you need premium fuel.
That's almost half the cost.
Thankfully Audi is including 1000 kilowatt hours of charging for free the equivalent of about 10 charges.
Regardless, most of the time most owners will be charging at home where things make a lot more financial sense.
Yes, home charging takes a lot longer overnight on a level two charger, but they're a full tank of gas will only cost about 12 bucks on average.
There's another reason you'll want to charge at home.
After filming another visit to the electrify America charger resulted in a situation where the car refused to let go of the plug, leaving me stranded after the emergency underhood plug released fail.
I did finally get the thing loose after over an hour.
But this is a disconcertingly common problem reported by many Etron owners The Audi still doesn't have a fixed for so is the Tron the right car for you?
Well if you want to be ludicrous or if you haven't sensitive disposition for range anxiety you might want to be looking elsewhere.
But for those looking for the ultimate and relax driving, the each song is well worth considering.
This thing is like a Zen cocoon on wheels.
I immediately feel more relaxed whenever I slip behind the wheel.
Turn on the massaging seats and waft my way home.
If that seems like the ticket for you after a long and stressful day at work, then this might be your next car.