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Audi released its first electric car — Audi e-tron. We took a ride

Audi in San-Francisco presented its first electric car — Audi e-tron in September 2018 in San-Francisco. Big presentation of the model became a reference point for its release on the market: according to preliminary data, sales of Audi e-tron will officially start at the end of spring 2019. The presentation for reporters took place in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in the middle of December. AIN.UA editor took place in the event and tested the car in rather suboptimal conditions: extreme heat (which requires permanent air conditioning), travelling for long distances between cities (no additional battery charging when stopping), impassability of desert roads. In a nutshell, the car showed itself at its best.

What is Audi e-tron?

e-tron — is the first electric car produced by Audi. It is a totally new premium-class 4WD crossover without previous generation wheelbase. Audi e-tron has a power reserve starting from 400 km (WLTP) and is equipped with a 95 kWh accumulator. The car, which has two electric motors, makes a 0-100 km/hour in 5.7 seconds. Total length of Audi e-tron is 4.9 meters. The trunk is big (around 660 liters), there is a small compartment under the hood where charging cable is kept.

How it goes?

During the test drive, we tried Audi e-tron in several driving modes. First of all, the car was tested in the city. Secondly, we drove it between the cities in several driving modes: in the city, between the cities, going up and down, off-road driving in a desert. The car performance was good at all the sections.

In a city, Audi e-tron is a comfortable car both for the driver and the passengers: in the front and in the back there is enough space for legs and the cabin is high enough not to strike a ceiling with your head. A single thing that might seem unusual to a driver is the fact that instead of wing mirrors there are cameras, the image from which is displayed on a small, but bright screen in the doors. However, it is optional, you can refuse from the cameras and choose regular wing mirrors. The discomfort is caused by the fact that I had to lower my head more than it would be if I used the wing mirrors. On the other hand, such a solution allows for larger wide view angle and bigger driving distance due to enhanced aerodynamics.

e-tron has a required set of “aids” to travel for long distances. It has a cruise control, lane keeping aid and speed limitation. The car actually controls whether the driver is too relaxed — in such a case it will ask the driver to hold the steering wheel tighter. One of the biggest advantages as compared to the car with ICE is the silent operation of the engine. It doesn`t produce a lot of noise even at 120 km/hour. This solution allows to get much more comfort from driving.

Note: Of course, you will be pushed into the seat, if you depress the gas pedal and turn on the sport mode. At the same time Audi says that e-tron was designed rather for comfortable driving, than for racing.

When going up or down the hill Audi e-tron is stable, the car sticks to the road, even if you go with a speed of more than hundred km/hour at the sections where you can drive only 40 km/h. At the same time, the energy recovery system works well: battery charging works at its full capacity. We got on a top of a high enough mountain and then back without spending much charge. Of course, driving in the mountains is not the typical behavior of an e-tron owner. But when driving in the city, due to recovery, the machine will be able to get more energy.

In a desert. I want to make clear that I didn`t drive the car through sand dunes: driving from the main “dirt road” to the sand at most. We got back without any problems, but anyway the success in such conditions depends more on the driver`s skills:). Off-road driving went well, the car stuck to the road.

Power reserve

I cannot confirm whether the car can travel more than 400 km in a single shot: during one stop we decided to charge it. In my opinion, the battery is powerful enough. After the stop, we had enough charge for driving 298 km. At the end of the journey we had 55 km charge left. During our travel we had time for some tests:

  • The distance travelled was a bit less than 150 km. During most part of the journey the speed was 140 km/hour. We even throttled down and then pushed the gas pedal. A big plus of e-tron battery is its cooling system, which prevents the battery from overheating and allows the driver to gather speed from zero to hundred km/hour at any time. The battery in Tesla cars doesn`t cool down and doesn`t allow to have maximum performance when it is overheated.
  • Air conditioning worked all the time. While the temperature in the sunlight outside was 40oC, it was about 20oC in the car. We even stopped several times to make a photo and didn`t turn off the air conditioning. It worked for several hours without interruption.
  • We had massage seats in our e-tron. They also worked all the time.
  • The journey across the desert off the road was almost 20 km long.
  • We used internet (there is Wi-Fi in the car) and charged a phone (the car has a wireless charger!).

I feel that if Audi e-tron was put in a less aggressive environment (without +40oC and 100 km travels without braking), the battery would perform as declared. In other words, when travelling in a city, which is the main purpose of the car, e-tron would be able to show itself from the best side.

Charging:

— about 8-9 hours when using a 11 kW charger.

— a bit less than 5 hours when using a 22 kW charger.

— the killer feature of Audi e-tron — you can use 150 kW charger, so the charging will take minimum time. However, now it is rather a potential capability, than reality.

Car cabin

Before getting into e-tron, I managed to sit in a new Audi Q8. When I got into e-tron, I saw the same modern cabin design and a new board computer with three screens. Each one of them has its own functions: the first one is just behind the steering wheel, it shows all the necessary information on the car for the driver. The second screen is located in the upper part of the central console, it covers entertainment system, navigation, etc. There is a third screen in the lower part of the central console, which ensures passenger comfort in the cabin: climate control, massage and so on. A projection of the most important information is also displayed on the screen in front of the driver: speed, lane holding and brake warning.

It is quite convenient that the functions of the car can be duplicated on different screens and complement each other. This is the case for navigation. Expanded version of the information is displayed on a large central screen, while a detailed data on approaching a turn or exit is displayed on the screen behind the wheel. It helps a lot when you go to an unfamiliar city and you don`t know the road at all. Or, for example, you can start typing the name of the street on the lower screen (it is not necessary to choose letters on the qwerty virtual keyboard, you can simply type — this is much more convenient during blindly typing, because the eyes are on the road), and the top screen will immediately give the correct name. It is very comfortable.

Screens allowed to replace the buttons and therefore to prevent distortion of the beauty of the cabin in their absence. Let me explain: if earlier the buyer didn’t want any of the functions, then a stub was put instead of a button. Now, all functions are displayed on the screen and if something is not available – the corresponding icon is simply not displayed.

It is difficult for me to say that the system is per se intuitive, but I am not an experienced driver. Obviously, in a few days, you will be able to adjust yourself a little and quickly get what you want without looking: define speed limits, quickly set the destination in the navigation system and select the desired driving mode. The screens are responsive, during the test in our car there was not a single glitch or stuttering.

Audi e-tron is a luxury car, so it has the luxury lining. You can choose the one you like out of many options, while the first one thousand buyers may get a special version called “First Edition” — grey cabin with orange seam and orange brake shoes. There is a lot of space in the cabin, it has good acoustics. Everything is done for maximum driver comfort. And of course, Audi is Audi. The assembly of the car is excellent, there is no backlash, no creaks, etc., so frequent complaints from owners of other popular electric cars are inappropriate here.

Buying Audi e-tron in Ukraine

Audi e-tron in Ukraine has two significant advantages as compared to its main competitor — Tesla Model X. Firstly, the car will be officially sold in Ukraine. It means that you can go to Audi showroom, take the car for a test drive, choose the configuration and pay for it. If the car is at the warehouse, you will be able to get it at once and won`t need to wait until it will be delivered from the other part of the world.

Galaxy Blue is a brand color of Audi e-tron. In it the car looks the best. Photo: Audi.

Secondly, official repair is available. There is always a local dealer whom you can get a car for troubleshooting. There is no need to go to Europe. You will be able to save your time and money.

According to previous data Audi e-tron sales will start at the end of spring 2019. The price of the car in Ukraine will be about 80,000 euro. We will be able to know more accurate prices in spring.

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