Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
For many, driving an electric vehicle is still something of a novelty and one that requires a whole new way of thinking – not least because of a bewildering array of options and menus on the dash. That’s not so much the case here.
Driving modes and regenerative braking options are commonplace on both electric cars and vans, but the ABT e-Transporter has shunned them in favour of a somewhat dialled-down and simplified driving experience. It doesn’t have fancy driving modes and there aren’t any options for regenerative braking. Instead, you simply put the “gear” lever into automatic and drive – just like you would in the DSG automatic version of the diesel van.
While it might be a more straightforward approach to driving, it is a shade boring. Electric vehicles can provide you with so much more and the ABT e-Transporter feels a bit basic when compared to Vauxhall Vivaro-e or larger Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. These both have driving modes and sophisticated regenerative braking systems that not only appeal to the more sensory elements of driving but can also help you drive more efficiently, while considering your battery usage and looking at the road ahead.
One function the eTransporter does have is a small amount of additional power on-tap, similar to a kickdown function on an automatic gearbox. Normal driving gives you 75% of the 83kW motor’s power, but push your foot harder on the accelerator and you get the full 100%. It’s similar to many automatic gearboxes paired to combustion engines, with the positive difference that the power arrives more smoothly and instantly, giving you a quick squirt of acceleration if you need to overtake or get out of a junction quickly.
As standard, the e-Transporter is limited to 56mph, which does feel a bit too low. However, an option to increase that to 75mph is available. The obvious benefit of the lower limit is that it will help preserve the 82-mile claimed range, but it feels just a few mph short of a sensible speed limit for a medium-sized van on UK roads, and emphasises the e-Transport’s mainly urban focus.
Speed limitations aside, the e-Transporter drives similarly to the diesel model, with its already sharp handling improved by the weight distribution benefits offered by the batteries.
By their very nature, electric vans are quiet, and even by electric vehicle standards the e-Transporter seems quieter still. There’s a whine from the motor at low speeds, but once that is overcome there is just a small amount of road noise.
If you’re not bothered by the simplified, scaled down driving experience then the eTransporter will reward you with an otherwise enjoyable and calming drive.
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