Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
If you're looking at the two-star rating above and thinking 'that E-tron must be a real slowcoach', then it's important to have some context. It certainly isn't slow; it has more than 300bhp and can do 0-60mph in 6.8sec. It's just that all of its main rivals offer much faster acceleration when you put your foot down.
Indeed, the E-tron's limited range between charges is more likely to prove a dealbreaker than its below-par acceleration. Officially, it can do 196 miles with a full battery, although you're more likely to get around 150 miles in real-world driving. For comparison, the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace can do around 250 miles in the real word, and even the Mercedes EQC can top 200 miles.
Suspension and ride comfort
The standard air suspension does a grand job of wafting you along when it’s in Comfort mode. Indeed, the E-tron deals with all manner of lumps and bumps better than a Model X or an EQC, and is roughly on a par with the I-Pace for comfort.
For the smoothest ride, stick with the 20in alloy wheels that come as standard on Technik and Sport trims. That said, the 21in rims you get on the posher trim levels don't make the ride at all fractious.
Switch the suspension to Dynamic mode and things become noticeably more jiggly over broken city streets. On faster undulating roads, though, it’s the setting you’ll want, because it helps help vertical body movements more tightly controlled.
Despite weighing more than 2.5 tonnes with a driver on board, the E-tron handles bends pretty tidily. The suspension does a good job of preventing the car from leaning like a well-known Italian tower through corners, the wide tyres provide lots of grip and the steering is precise enough.
If you’re looking for fun, though, we’d recommend you take a closer look at the I-Pace or, better still, the lower-slung Tesla Model 3. Both cars change direction more eagerly and sway around less through bends.
Noise and vibration
Even if you opt for conventional door mirrors rather than cameras (see visibility section for more on the latter), the E-tron generates next to no wind noise on the move, while road noise is also very well muted. You do hear a faint whine from the electric motors but, overall, this is a quieter car than all of its rivals.
What’s arguably even more impressive, though, is what happens when you slow down. Despite juggling between regenerative braking (using the motors as dynamos to charge the battery) and regular friction brakes, the middle pedal offers a reasonable amount of feel, allowing your to slow your progress smoothly. That’s very rare in hybrid and electric cars.
Add in an accelerator pedal that’s very consistent in its responses – as long as you’re not in the Efficiency mode, which adds some dead travel at the top – and the E-tron is a very easy car to drive smoothly.
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