On sale 2018 Price from £60,000 (est)
Given the enduring popularity of SUVs, it's perhaps only logical that car makers would combine this popular bodystyle with electric propulsion. In the coming years, we'll see a growing range of electric SUVs go on sale. While today your choice is limited to the Tesla Model X, next year it will be joined by the Jaguar I-Pace, with similar efforts from Mercedes-Benz and BMW arriving soon after. Audi will want a slice of that pie, too, which is why it's planning to launch the E-tron SUV in 2018.
The E-Tron is one of 12 cars shortlisted for What Car?'s 2018 Reader Award. To see all of this year's contenders and vote for your favourites, click here.
Audi E-tron – what do we know?
The E-tron was originally shown in concept form in 2016, when it was called the Q6 E-tron quattro. However, Audi has since confirmed that the Q6 will be an entirely different SUV. Audi's reasoning was that, by calling its electric SUV the Q6, buyers would have price expecations fixed before seeing the car. Interestingly, Audi has chosen not to branch out its electric models with a new sub-brand, as BMW and Mercedes have done with their respective i and EQ ranges.
Late-stage prototypes of the E-tron have recently been spotted testing by our sister title Autocar, suggesting that Audi will beat the Jaguar I-Pace to market with the first premium mass-market electric SUV. Although the production car's looks will be toned down from the original concept, that car's new lighting designs and large front grille look set to remain.
Audi E-tron engines
The E-tron is powered by three electric motors and is based on the same underpinnings as Porsche's upcoming Mission E performance electric saloon. Two of those motors drive the rear wheels, while the third powers the front. With a claimed range of at least 311 miles, the E-tron could just beat the I-Pace on driving range, as Jaguar is claiming 310 miles.
If the production E-tron uses the same set-up as 2015's E-tron quattro concept – which first showed Audi's ambitions for an electric SUV – then expect the car to offer around 496bhp, a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.5sec and a limited top speed of 131mph.
Audi E-tron price
While nothing is official at this stage, Audi officials have said the E-tron will cost about as much as a "well-specced" A6 executive saloon, which means a price tag of around £60,000 is likely. Given that the cheapest version of the Model X, the 75D, is currently priced from £70,500, Audi could significantly undercut one of its key rivals. The I-Pace, however, is also expected to cost from £60,000.
Stylish E-tron Sportback to follow
Audi doesn't currently have a coupé-styled SUV in its range, but that will change with the launch of the E-tron Sportback, which was shown in concept form at the recent Shanghai motor show. Scheduled to go on sale in 2019, the E-tron Sportback will be a more stylised – and, crucially, more expensive – alternative to the regular E-tron. It will feature the same electric powertrain, but several versions will be offered with different power outputs.
If you can't wait to buy an electric car, then the good news is that there are already plenty to choose from. Below, we look at our top 10 favourites in this market and name the electric cars you should avoid at all costs.
Top 10 electric cars
10. Volkswagen e-Up
The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It's just that, unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models.
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9. Nissan Leaf
One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astra and similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that allows a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.
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8. Toyota Mirai
The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you'll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It's powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled but, at around £66,000, it's certainly pricey. And with limited volumes coming to the UK, it's likely to be a very rare sight.
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