Audi E-tron Sportback long-term test: report 4

Can you live with a fully electric car if you can't charge at home? We're finding out with the help of the Audi E-tron Sportback...

LT Audi E-tron Sportback rear cornering

The car Audi E-tron Sportback 55 quattro 96kWh S line Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it's here We want to see if Audi's electric coupé SUV feels worthy of its £80k price tag and fits into everyday life

Needs to Deliver a wow factor befitting its price, and not be compromised by its mode of propulsion or sleek looks

Mileage 1900 List price £80,675 Target Price £75,678 Price as tested £84,795 Test range 220 miles Official range 247 miles

7 August 2021 – Screen time

A few years ago, I found myself chatting with someone from Volkswagen who wanted to know why What Car? rated the infotainment system in the then current – but now previous – Audi A3 higher than the one in the contemporary Golf.

I explained that it was mostly because the A3 had a physical control dial (below), whereas the Golf relied on a touchscreen interface that was more distracting to use while driving.

Audi A3 2016 MMI rotary controller

He looked at me, clearly unimpressed, and said that if touchscreens were good enough for Apple they must be the better solution.

My response was that he should try typing something into his iPhone without looking down at it, and then tell me if he still thought touchscreens didn’t demand a lot of your attention.

It’s something that What Car? has continued to talk about ever since. However, our criticisms haven’t stopped touchscreens and touch-sensitive controls from becoming almost universally adopted by car makers. Indeed, even Audi has now gone down this route, leaving BMW and Mazda as the last brands defending the dial.

LT Audi E-tron Sportback - using touchscreen

Still, while I remain convinced that touchscreen infotainment systems are inherently more distracting, I’ll admit that some are less so than others, with the one in my E-tron Sportback among the very best.

For starters, it’s quick to respond to inputs and provides haptic feedback to reassure you that you have indeed selected the icon you were aiming at. What’s more, the various menus are logically laid out, and they’re complemented by an effective voice control system and physical buttons on the steering wheel.

LT Audi E-tron Sportback - cleaning touchscreen

One minor niggle is that while the screen itself is made of glass so that it feels pleasingly expensive to the touch, this also means it shows fingerprints particularly badly. It’s no doubt why Audi provides a microfibre cloth for wiping it down and, helpfully, my four-year-old daughter thinks doing so is great fun, saving me a job.

More worryingly, when I started the car the other day, I got the message: ‘Loading system. Please wait…’ Except I waited and waited, and it refused to load up.

LT Audi E-tron Sportback touchscreen error message

My first thought was to do what I knew the What Car? IT department would recommend, and try turning the car off and on again, but this failed to fix it. So, I Googled the problem and found that other Audi owners who’d experienced it recommended holding down the stereo volume knob for 15 seconds. Sure enough, this rebooted the system and it now appears to be working fine again.

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