Audi e-tron review: the brand's first electric car driven in Abu Dhabi

Audi e-tron review: the brand's first electric car driven in Abu Dhabi

Electrical Storming

Text: Daryl Lee

Come to Abu Dhabi, Audi said, and drive our new e-tron, our first all-electric production car.

And no, there are no capitals in the car's name, because this a cool, edgy car and cool, edgy cars have no need for tawdry capitals.

If you need a primer on what the e-tron is all about, head on over here, and you'll need to be up to speed (pun intended), because this e-tron is but the spearhead of Audi's assault on the electric vehicle market, with two more models to follow in the next two years.

And assuming you can't be bothered to read further, here's the TL;DR - the e-tron is good.

It's very, very good.


Driving impressions

Hit the big silver start button next to the gorgeous, cantilevered gearlever, and aside from a multitude of screens lighting up and a few audible bongs, nothing much happens.

Unlike in a regular car, where the gentle buzz of an idling engine provides cues as to a vehicle's readiness to move off, the e-tron provides no such tactile cues, owing to its electric nature.

Still, slide the silver gear selector in D and you're away. In remarkable silence, of course. There's the distant whine of the electric motors underfoot, but given it's an Audi, you just know someone has spent an inordinate amount of time agonising over how it sounds just right.

Audi has somehow managed to make ambient noise sound cool.

Think of it as the difference between a cheap hairdryer and Dyson's super-fancy Supersonic hairdryer.

Once on the move and just cruising along, the e-tron is incredibly quiet, even by the standards of most electric vehicles. Sitting at 140km/h on an Emirati highway, you barely hear any wind noise, with the e-tron remaining rock solid and unruffled.

This level of aural refinement makes even a luxury limousine feel like a clanking tractor by comparison.

All told, aside from the improved quietness, it all feels rather normal.

This isn't a slur on the car, mind you. According to an Audi engineer we spoke to, a lot of effort went into making the German carmaker's most advanced car feel like any of its other more 'normal' cars.

A rather roundabout way of doing things, but hey, there you go. It's very... German.


Interior impressions

In sharp contrast to its handsome, if somewhat predictable, inoffensive exterior design, the inside of the e-tron is stunning. There's acres of smartphone-style glass, brushed metal and leather on offer.

More eagle-eyed spotters will note the familiar wheel that controls its MMI infotainment system is now gone, replaced by full touchscreen controls for the 10.1-inch main screen, and the 8.6-inch sub-screen that controls amongst other functions the air-conditioning system.

You'll be able to equip your e-tron with a two-spoke (officially, Audi calls it a four-spoke) steering wheel, which is a wonderfully quirky touch.

You'll also be able to outfit your e-tron with Audi's virtual side mirrors (likely to be a cost option and pending approval from local authorities). A pair of cameras mounted on insectile stalks function as traditional side mirrors, with their image projected on a pair of 7.1-inch screens just above the door handles.

They work wonderfully well. The image is bright, vivid, with a high refresh rate. But you'll have to get used to looking down at a spot lower than what you're used to, and judging how near/far traffic is to you is nigh impossible.

The Audi e-tron is expected arrive in Singapore near the end of 2019, with prices starting at just under $400,000. If that's a little too rich for your blood, check out the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which starts at $138,999.



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