Audi e-Tron 55 Quattro: This is Audi’s first mass-produced electric car, the e-Tron.
However, the name made its debut on several all-electric and plug-in hybrid Audi concepts as well as limited-run production models. The company outlined a clear direction for the e-tron sub-brand at the SUV’s curtain-raiser in 2018.
All it’s future and present EVs will now fall under the e-tron umbrella and carry the moniker.
The car in question is also not new. It was launched in international showrooms in 2019.
However, supply chain constraints led to high global waiting times and further delays. The India launch was originally scheduled for 2019.
However, it was delayed further by the pandemic. The e-tron is finally coming to India in the middle of 2021.
Audi, although being the first luxury manufacturer to launch an EV model in India, lost its edge to Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Jaguar launched the I-Pace in April this year. Audi could see this as a blessing in disguise.
With the competition testing the waters of premium luxury EVs, and with wider market awareness and greater acceptance of EVs, the timing seemed just right for the E-Tron SUV launch.
We will be able to choose between the 55′ and 55 Sportback versions. Both are powered by a 95kWh lithium-ion battery.
The company plans to sell more than 200 etrons each year, which may seem daunting for a car that is over Rs 1 crore. Is it able to meet its target and back its green plates? To find out, we put the etron 55 through extensive tests.
The e-tron must be an excellent EV and a premium SUV to meet its annual sales goal of 200 units. It does the job well as the former. It looks great, is practical and spacious, and has excellent performance. However, SUVs are expected to be excellent long-distance travelers.
The e-tron’s handling and performance make it a great vehicle for highway driving. However, the 382km of highway range doesn’t suffice, as is the case with other EVs.
It is a great urban EV, even if you remove long-distance commutes. It has a real-world range of 350 km, making it well-suited for urban commutes. Performance is smooth and strong. The e-tron is a luxury SUV that’s easy to drive and won’t cause any tailpipe emissions.
The etron is based on the modified MLB Evo platform, which also underpins Q5 and Q7. The 5-seater e-tron has similar dimensions to the Q7’s 7-seater. It measures over 5m long, nearly 2m wide, and has 2.9m-long wheelspin.
This gives it a significant size advantage over its competitors, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC.
The e-tron’s styling, being an Audi, is usually understated. It doesn’t shout that it’s ‘electric’ or “futuristic”. The e-tron’s frontal feature is a large enclosed hexagonal area in grey.
This is in keeping with Audi’s traditional styling approach and not adopting a radical design strategy like the Jaguar I-Pace. This design has been modified to ease the transition from internal combustion engines to electric cars.
The car’s design is dominated by angular headlamps and bulbous arches. Also, the 20-inch wheels add some style to the vehicle.
India gets a standard outside mirror setup instead of the futuristic, but still useful, twin external camera setup that we saw in the international version. Audi has unique charging options on both sides of the car.
The driver’s side houses both DC and AC charging sockets, while the passenger side only receives an AC charging socket. The flap slides down electronically when you push the button near the ‘etron’ letters.
The rear light bar runs along the length of the boot, connecting the tail lamps. The steeply raked rear windshield gives it a sporty look. The bumper is broken up by the black band and the silver skid plate.
The all-electricity of the vehicle is reflected in the green number plates and orange highlights on its brake calipers and badge.
You’ll be able to identify many design elements and parts shared with other Audis when you step into the etron. It is easy to see the uncluttered dashboard, which wraps around the cabin and flows seamlessly into the door pads.
The most striking feature is the twin-screen setup. One for infotainment, the other for climate control. This indicates that the SUV is geared towards self-drivers.
These screens are bright and clear with a haptic feedback option (mild vibration) that can be ‘pressed’. The climate control screen has a rest area that you can use to rest your hand while operating it.
However, this doesn’t negate the fact that when driving, you’ll need to keep your eyes on the road as you adjust the speed of the blower or set the temperature.
The e-tron’s futuristic interiors are enhanced by the fantastic virtual cockpit (full digital instrument cluster), which has sharp colored displays and is easy to use.
You’ll also appreciate the interior’s quality and finish. This Audi’s cabin is spacious and has no low-rent areas. Although the front seats are spacious and comfortable, the cushioning is not as firm as other luxury SUVs.
The grey seats are very business-like. Brighter colors or contrast stitching would have added to their personality.
The front has plenty of storage space. There’s a clever recess to charge your smartphone wirelessly while it is placed perpendicularly (rather than flat), and there’s also a deep compartment to store smaller bottles or beverage cups.
The armrest console can also hold small items, while the large door bins can easily take up large bottles.
The backrest and rear bench are well-shaped to provide adequate support for the thighs. The good news is that the floor is not too high-set, even though the battery pack is hidden beneath it.
You are not forced to sit in uncomfortable, high-heeled positions, and your headroom is not compromised. The seat is large enough to hold three people, and the floor is nearly flat.
However, the air-con console on the top of the seat restricts the knee room for the middle person. The panoramic sunroof doesn’t extend all the way behind like the Jaguar I-Pace’s panoramic glass roof.
The four-zone climate control gives passengers at the rear the ability to adjust their own temperatures. The car also has two Type-C USB charging points, cupholders in its center armrest, and large storage pockets on the doors.
The boot capacity of the etron is 660 litres. The boot floor has a storage space that allows you to store the space-saving tyre.
The best part is that the etron doesn’t have an engine under its bonnet. There’s an extra storage space in the front where you can store a small bag or cables. It is not possible to unlock the e-tron’s trunk or front trunk using the key.
Instead, it is located beneath the dashboard on the driver’s side.
Standard features include 20-inch wheels, Matrix LED Headlamps, a panoramic Sunroof, Audi’s Virtual cockpit (fully digital instrument cluster), and twin screens – one for infotainment, the other for climate control – both of which offer haptic feedback.
You also get four-zone climate control and air suspension. Wireless charging is available, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (wired). An electric tailgate is also included.
Audi offers many optional features, including a 16-speaker system, 705W Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, 360-degree camera, and head-up display, ambient lighting with 30 colors, soft-closing doors, and an on-board air purifier.
Optional digital Matrix LED headlamps are another cool option. These not only light up the roads well but also provide a dramatic light show when you unlock/unlock the vehicle.
The screens are too simplistic and do not include features such as ventilated seats, connected car tech, and wireless phone connectivity.
The e-tron 55 quadro SUV uses a 95kWh battery pack to power its two motors. The e-tron produces 408hp/664Nm in its sportiest mode, with 184hp at each axle and 224hp back.
In other modes, however, the etron produces 360hp/561Nm (170hp at front and 190hp back). You’ll be able to forgive Audi for not providing a standard creep function.
The part-throttle rolling response from standstill is so gentle that it will even make you forget about the lack of a standard creep function. An EV has torque right away, acceleration is quick and the throttle response is fast.
With a simple flex of the right foot, you can easily get past slow-moving traffic with the kind of speed you wouldn’t expect from a 2.6-tonne SUV. Its smooth, but consistent increase in speed and instantaneous responses make it very addictive.
The all-electric SUV emits no tailpipe emissions so you can enjoy it without any guilt. The e-tron emits a distinctive sound through external speakers that alert pedestrians and other road users to its presence.
This Audi can switch from D to E and unleash 48hp/103Nm under hard acceleration. The 2.6-tonne etron accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.58sec. It pulls strong until around 180 km/h after which it slows down.
It will reach a maximum speed of 207kph if you keep your foot on the ground. This is according to our GPS-based testing equipment.
The e-tron, like all EVs has energy regeneration. This means that the motor acts as a generator, and recovers kinetic energy while off-throttle coasting is occurring. It also has two settings: manual and auto.
It is amazing how intuitive and natural the auto mode feels when you lift off. It will allow the car to coast to maximize the distance covered or it will recover charge and decelerate depending on the driving style and the battery state.
You can also tug at the right paddle to temporarily increase regeneration and braking. To reduce the braking and regeneration, pull at the right paddle if the feeling is too strong.
You can also manually turn off regeneration or set it up to two preset levels. These will keep the retardation forces at 0.03g 0.1g respectively. Level 1 is best for continuous downhill descents.
However, in stop-go situations, the higher setting may prove to be more beneficial as the car will accelerate quite quickly on liftoff, which can significantly slow you down.
It does not stop completely, so you can only drive with one pedal (and not the brake pedal).
Like most EVs that use the brakes first, motor retardation is present. Audi claims that motors alone will provide deceleration for 90 percent of the time.
The wheel brakes only need to be used when there is rapid deceleration (over 0.3g force) It’s very nice that the motor and wheel brakes blend smoothly and you don’t notice when the wheel brakes kick into effect.
The e-tron was subjected to the Autocar city cycles. During which time we switched between full auto and max regeneration manually, the etron performed well. In both cases, however, we used the ‘Efficiency” drive mode and set the temperature control to 22degC.
The infotainment system was also used, as well as the lights and wipers, which use the 12V battery. The etron’s average driving range was 350 km, which is plenty for urban life. It makes the etron an excellent daily driver.
You can also choose ‘range mode’ if your battery is low. This will turn off the climate control, reduce power consumption and limit the maximum speed to 90 km/h. It can add 40-60km to your driving range.
It returned 382 km of range in our highway cycle with regeneration set to auto, and in ‘Efficiency” drive mode.
The e-tron can handle short, outstation trips without too much difficulty, but long, inter-city commutes will be a problem due to the poor infrastructure for charging public devices.
It is important to remember that steep hills consume high amounts of energy and can adversely affect an EV’s range. Therefore, it is necessary to plan carefully for outstation trips.
The e-tron comes standard with two home charging options: the standard 15amp socket and the Audi 11kW wallbox.
You can also specify an e-tron that has a higher-wattage 22kW AC fast charging capability, which will significantly reduce charging times. The 11kW AC wall charger charged 90 percent of the battery in just 8 hours.
It was also charged at a Tata Power DC 25kW public fast charger. The charge took just 15 minutes and provided about 8 percent. This is enough to cover a distance of approximately 25-30km.
The cost was Rs 106. The average home charging bill will be around Rs 900 for a full charge (0-100%), taking into consideration a high electricity slab at Rs 10 per kWh
The e-tron must be an excellent EV and a premium SUV to meet its annual sales goal of 200 units. It does the job well as the former. It looks great, is practical and spacious, and has excellent performance.
However, SUVs are expected to be excellent long-distance travelers. The e-tron’s handling and performance make it a great vehicle for highway driving. However, the 382 km of highway range doesn’t suffice, as is the case with other EVs.
It is a great urban EV, even if you remove long-distance commutes. It has a real-world range of 350km, making it well-suited for urban commutes. Performance is smooth and strong. The e-tron is a luxury SUV that’s easy to drive and won’t cause any emissions.
The e-tron 55 Quattro is priced at Rs 1.16 Crore, while the 50 Quattro comes in at Rs 1 Crore (ex-showroom India).
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