Audi E-tron long-term test: report 3

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 2625 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

10 July 2019 – Getting the measure of the E-tron 

It’s quite a few years since I last ran a car as large as the Audi e-tron, and initially its proportions seemed a tad intimidating. But I’ve quickly come to realise that it’s actually a very manageable size for British roads, with all the interior space and comfort a family of up to five is likely to want but not the bloated footprint of some full-size luxury SUVs. I’m finding the 4.9m-long E-tron surprisingly easy to thread through tight city streets and manoeuvre around tight car parks, and it isn’t so wide that it spills over the centre line on narrow country roads. Well, not much.

Audi E-tron long term

Even more noteworthy is the manner in which it tackles such roads. While the E-tron’s ride is supremely cosseting on all types of roads and at any speed, I’m particularly impressed with how gentle and well controlled its body movements are over uneven B-roads and city streets. There’s virtually none of the jostling from side to side that you get in a lot of high-rise SUVs, so progress is remarkably comfortable at all times. 

There isn’t a lot of fun to be had, though; the E-tron’s immense weight sees to that. Although there’s plenty of grip and the steering is precise enough, the car wants to run wide at quite an early stage in corners, encouraging you not to push too hard. Switching to Dynamic mode – one of seven available in the Audi e-tron – reduces body lean a little, but most of the time I leave the driving mode set to Auto and find that I can still make brisk, serene progress, which is satisfying in its own way.

Two of the modes are geared towards off-roading, automatically raising the ride height of the air suspension if you ever want to tackle a really rough dirt road or field, although the tyres lose traction fairly quickly on slippery surfaces.

Audi E-tron long term

Meanwhile, the adaptive cruise control – part of the £1950 Tour Pack option – has made itself permanently unavailable for use. It was working well at first; in fact, its ability to adjust the car’s speed correctly, not just on congested motorways but also through speed limit changes and on dual-carriageway roundabouts and motorway slip roads, was quite mesmerising. I’ve cleaned the radar unit in the front bumper and every other sensor I can find, because often it’s just grime that causes a temporary outage, but the cruise control is still refusing to work. I’m still waiting to hear how that might be rectified.

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