Audi E-tron long-term test: report 2

We're among the first to find out how Audi's new electric luxury SUV performs in daily use. Is it a Tesla beater?...

Audi E-tron long term

The car Audi E-tron 55 quattro Run by Allan Muir, managing editor

Why it’s here To see whether Audi has succeeded in raising the bar for electric vehicles with its advanced Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X rival

Needs to Pamper its occupants as thoroughly as any regular luxury SUV and be able to cover virtually any distance without undue recharging concerns

Mileage 2170 List price £71,520 (before £3500 gov't grant) Target Price £71,520 Price as tested £78,245 Test range 220 miles Official range 241 miles

20 June 2019 – A marriage made in heaven

Like all electric vehicles (EVs), the Audi e-tron has a regenerative braking system that uses the electric motors and brakes to harvest energy under deceleration and put it back into the battery pack, helping to eke out the range. The level of regen can be adjusted via paddles behind the steering wheel, ranging from coasting with minimal drag through to strong enough to slow the car significantly when you lift off the accelerator. This can be a boon at times, especially around town, but in the E-tron’s case, it could afford to be stronger.

Audi E-tron long term

In some EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, the regen is so vigorous that you hardly ever have to touch the brake pedal. Audi suggests this is possible in the E-tron too, but I’m finding that even in its highest setting, the regen isn’t strong enough to bring the car to a halt without braking in the traditional manner. This, I assume, is to make the car behave in a way that drivers are used to from their previous non-electric cars, but you lose the benefit of full one-pedal driving in heavy traffic. I’m also finding it tricky to bring the E-tron to a halt without a small lurch and creak as the brakes grab at the last second.

The indicated range has settled at around 220 miles with each full recharge, and it’s proving fairly trustworthy, with discrepancies of only about 10 miles either way between that figure and the distance the car can actually cover on a charge. That's an improvement on the 196 miles we achieved in our Real Range test, although I have to be willing to almost fully deplete the E-tron’s battery to achieve it. And unlike in some smaller EVs, the remaining range doesn’t go into freefall at motorways speeds; the descent remains fairly linear.

Audi E-tron long term

While the Audi e-tron is proving to be a wonderfully relaxing and comfortable car to drive, it hasn’t been entirely fault-free in its first few weeks with us. A week or so after our car arrived, a warning message popped up in the digital instrument panel saying that there was a malfunction with the car's emergency call system, which automatically sends for help if you have an accident. A software update – carried out free of charge – was all that was required to sort it out.

Audi E-tron long term

More recently, the E-tron’s limo-like qualities (and its brilliant white paint) made it an obvious choice for wedding car duties when a colleague’s daughter got married at Kew Gardens in south-west London – especially as a traditional horse and carriage wouldn’t have mixed very well with the required journey up the M3 motorway to get to the venue.  

Come the big day, the bride couldn’t have been happier with her conveyance. As well as looking a million dollars, the E-tron’s spacious interior coped easily with the sugar plum fairy dress, while the elevated seating position meant the bride made a serene, dignified entrance.

Audi E-tron long term

Just as impressively, the E-tron’s excellent refinement ensured the bride’s sister and father could effortlessly maintain a steady stream of reassuring chit-chat and therefore banish any lingering thoughts of a last-minute detour to the airport…

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