Everything you need to know about the Audi e-tron electric SUV
Bolt from the blue
The Audi e-tron all-electric SUV has recently made its debut in San Francisco, and we're about to drive it for the first time on public roads in Abu Dhabi in a month or so. Naturally, we'll be updating this gallery with images from the Middle East when we do, but before that, here's everything you need to know about Audi's first ever mass-production, all-electric car.
The name game
Despite the e-tron being what Audi breathlessly claims as a "new era" for the carmaker, the e-tron is not the first car to carry the aforementioned nameplate. It has, in fact, been used since 2009, when Audi exhibited a R8-based electric supercar concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Since then, there have been a slew of concept cars, prototypes and production cars in varying shapes - from superminis to full-sized SUV-like things to nearly windscreen-less retro-inspired convertibles. But what those diverse e-tron models had in common was electric drive tech of some sort, ranging from full battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Fittingly and confusingly enough, the first serially produced pure electric Audi is called the e-tron. Not just any e-tron, but the e-tron.
And while this mid-sized SUV is the only e-tron for the moment, don't expect it to stay that way for too much longer. There are already rumblings of Audi putting a few more electric car models into production in the years to come, such as the coupe-SUV e-tron Sportback and e-tron GT four-door coupe.
In fact, the German carmaker is so serious about this electric car thing, it's planning to expand the e-tron range to 12 by 2025.
A jaw-dropping interior
A cutting-edge car needs a cutting-edge interior, and boy, does the e-tron have a stunning cabin, with its acres of sculpted, angular plastic, aluminium and glass.
Yes, glass, because in keeping with the e-tron's high-tech nature, analogue controls are kept to a minimum. Luddites needn't apply, but then if you were tech-averse, the fact that the e-tron is electric should already have sent you running in the opposite direction in your disgusting, polluting fossil fuel-powered car.
A digital dashboard and touchscreen infotainment system is standard, and if you decide to check off the appropriate box on the options list, you can have your e-tron with an auxiliary third screen above the gear lever that displays the status of the electrical drivetrain and climate controls.
The more eagle-eyed might have noticed the e-tron's door mirrors and tsk-ed at how tiny and impractical they are. But you see, those little nubs aren't mirrors at all, they're actually a pair of rear-facing cameras that project a rear-view image on the insides of the doors.
It sounds simple enough. After all, using cameras in place of mirrors saves space, is better for aerodynamics and reduces wind noise at highway speeds. But the reason why they've hitherto now been the sole purview of concept cars and design sketches is governmental regulations.
Clearly, Audi has found a way to appease European regulators, but whether the cameras (optional and likely a very pricey option, at that) will make it to Singapore is uncertain at this point, according to sources from Audi Singapore.
It's remarkably normal
Electric cars of today are a far cry from the tiny, cramped ones of yesteryear with compromised practicality, but if that fact isn't already clear, Audi wants to put your fears to rest permanently.
The e-tron will five adults and a full weekend's worth of all their luggage. If that sounds like one of Audi's conventional full-sized SUVs, you'd be right. And it'll do so with the sort of noiseless, vibration-free verve that all electric cars do, enhanced further by suspension that senses the surface underfoot and adjusts itself accordingly.
The e-tron is also pretty zippy. The electric motors in the e-tron produce a total of 402hp and will catapult the car from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds.
And here's the best part - the e-tron has a claimed range of 400km. See? Remarkably normal.
But it's going to be pretty pricey
If you're wondering where the catch is, you'll find it in the e-tron's price. And we have to say it's pretty steep, though it's not as expensive as we initially thought.
In Europe, it's priced from €79,900, which makes it marginally more expensive than Audi's flagship conventionally-powered SUV, the Q8. Audi Singapore hasn't yet set a price for the e-tron, but if we had to guess, based on how much the Q8 costs in Singapore, you can expect the e-tron to cost a shade under $400,000 once it gets here.
Head on over here to get charged up on even more Audi e-tron.