Audi’s new 2019 e-tron electric SUV joins Jaguar and Porsche in giving Tesla some serious competition. The automaker’s first-ever all-electric vehicle looks much like the rest of the Audi lineup, foregoing the temptation to go too futuristic or quirky in an effort to stand out as an electric. Its iconic Audi grille reinforces the sense of normalcy even as it handles the distinctly-electric job of directing cooling air to pass under the battery pack. Some electrification cues are provided, though, as the e-tron features slats running across the rear bumper that highlight the lack of tailpipes. Lights in the front are also designed to look like the bars of a charge status indicator. A dark colored section along the sides show battery pack location.
Efficient aerodynamics and other efficiency-enhancing touches were important in designing the e-tron, which features a drag coefficient of just 0.30. Features include cooling ducts for the e-tron’s front brakes and its adaptive, speed-dependent air suspension. Standard ultra-low rolling resistance 20-inch wheels are aerodynamically optimized. Full underbody cladding incorporates an aluminum plate to help protect the battery and also lower drag.
The e-tron’s electric quattro all-wheel drive uses two asynchronous motors, each driving one set of wheels. Single-stage transmissions transfer torque to the axles via differentials. At moderate cruising speeds, the e-tron is powered mainly by the rear motor. The battery pack’s location between the axles plus the low positioning of other drive components results in low center of gravity. Weight distribution is approximately 50:50. A driver can select from seven different driving modes, from comfortable to sporty, that alter suspension stiffness, steering responsiveness, and how aggressively the SUV accelerates.
Two electric motors accelerate the e-tron from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph. It can tow up to 4000 pounds when equipped with the optional tow package. While EPA has yet to provide driving range numbers, testing in Europe resulted in 248 miles from the 95 kWh battery pack. EPA’s testing here tends to yield somewhat lower range numbers.
Audi put heavy emphasis on recuperating as much energy as possible. Depending on driving conditions, terrain, and driving style, regenerative braking can provide as much as 30 percent of the e-tron’s range. The driver can select how aggressively the car uses this system, allowing for “one pedal” driving where taking the foot off the throttle will bring the car to a full stop using only regenerative braking.
The e-tron is available with a full range of standard or optional driver assistance packages including adaptive cruise assist, intersection assist, rear cross traffic assist, lane change and vehicle exit warning, and park steering assist. It comes in three trim levels – Premium Plus, Prestige, and First Edition. A panoramic glass sunroof is standard.