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First look: Audi e-tron

Audi e-tron might sound familiar to those who have seen the Iron Man franchise. For a while, the technology was just for the movies, but fiction has become reality with the launch of Audi’s first series production e-tron large SUV.

Available in standard SUV and Sportback body styles, it cuts an attractive stance and packs in the latest technology, some never seen in a series production vehicle. Aerodynamic efficiency was paramount to the design, featuring a shutter type grille that opens and closes based on the level of cooling required. The underside of the vehicle is completely flat, with golf ball-like dimples in the cladding to improve efficiency. Innovations like virtual exterior mirrors not only add to the efficiency, but shine a light on some of the ground-breaking technology used in the e-tron.

Audi e-tron in blue
Audi e-tron Sportback model.
Charger plugged into the Audi e-tron
E-tron has a faster 100% recharge time.

The e-tron 50 delivers 230kW and 540Nm with a real-world range of around 300km from its 71kWh battery pack, while the e-tron 55 delivers up to 300kW and 664Nm, providing approximately 400km of real-world range with its 95kWh battery. Audi’s famous Quattro AWD system remains, but all the mechanical elements have disappeared. They’ve been replaced by electric motors on the front and a rear axle controlled by sophisticated electronics, moving drive around each wheel as needed almost instantaneously. 

The e-tron 55 can be charged at up to 150kW (120kW for the e-tron 50), allowing an 80% recharge in 30 minutes or a full recharge in 45. The sophisticated thermal management of the battery allows for the faster 100% recharge time. E-tron also uses a sophisticated energy recuperation system capable of harnessing up to 220kW/300Nm while braking. Each e-tron comes with a six-year subscription to the Chargefox charging network and the battery is supported by an eight-year warranty. All e-tron models are capable of towing up to 1800kg.

Inside is Audi’s benchmark interior fit-out, including haptic touch dual screens for infotainment and Audi’s virtual cockpit driver display, which has been specifically customised for the e-tron. There’s enough space for five adult passengers, with more rear-seat legroom thanks to the flat floor and no transmission tunnel.

Rear-vision camera in the Audi e-tron
OLED screens displaying the rearward view.
Front interior of the Audi e-tron
Luxury interior.

One innovation sure to spark interest is the optional virtual exterior rear-vision mirrors. The traditional glass exterior mirrors have been replaced by a much smaller external structure housing a high-definition camera that enhances and displays the rearward image on OLED screens at the bottom of the A-pillar. The cameras are capable of enhancing rearward vision in low light and poor weather conditions. The vision will be more true to size rather than what we see with convex mirrors, while the smaller external footprint aids aerodynamic efficiency.

Pricing starts at $137,700 (plus on-road costs) for the e-tron 50 Quattro and tops out at $157,700 for the e-tron 55 Sportback. There are a limited number of ‘first edition’ models in both body styles that include the innovative virtual exterior mirrors, unique 21-inch alloy wheels, e-tron orange brake calipers, Matrix LED headlights and black exterior styling elements. Other items include the heads-up display, 705W Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, S sport front seats and interior highlights, four-zone climate control and privacy glass, among other inclusions.

 

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