2.7.2021Audi e-tron 55 quattro review
Audi’s gone big on electrification, and the e-tron SUV is the cornerstone of initial product, offering a long range and ultra-rapid charging. Subtle updates since launch models have unlocked driving range from the same powertrain, and the e-tron 55 quattro can prove a technological tour de force.
Review by Chris Lilly
AUDI E-TRON 55 QUATTRO: PERFORMANCE
There’s no lack of performance from Audi in this version of the e-tron, with a twin-motor set-up producing 300 kW (408 hp) across both axles - in overboost anyway. Most of the time it has 265 kW, with a ‘push-to-pass’ system to access a bit more oomph. It’s good for a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds, which is more than ample for most drivers. Those desperate for greater performance can opt for the e-tron S model.
It’s easy to access that performance too, even compare to other EVs, as the e-tron is set-up to be a doddle to drive. The pace is well modulated so drivers will rarely be taken by surprise when acceleration - as is possible with the throttle response on some EVs. It means that the Audi doesn’t feel as quick as a Jaguar I-Pace for example, but is also more relaxing to drive.
Audi’s e-tron is well placed within the rest of the brand’s line-up. It’s a well balanced machine, that doesn’t offer the comfort of the Mercedes Benz EQC or as agile as the I-Pace, but does everything pretty well. It doesn’t excel, but neither are there any weak spots.
Its greatest strength is as a motorway cruiser, where it shrugs aside long-distances without a care, and ensuring occupants get to their destination fresh and comfortable. Like many Audi saloons and SUVs, the e-tron does a good job of settling down at a motorway pace. It does a decent job around town, but there’s no disguising the e-tron’s size or weight, even if the suspension and handling combine to create a relatively nimble large SUV.
Audi has created a nicely designed SUV in the e-tron, managing to stand out to passers by without being too garish. That said, the Catalunya Red paint job on the test car is a little too ‘stand out-ish’ for my tastes, but a different colour is an easy thing to change.
As mentioned, the e-tron is a large SUV, but its design means that it doesn’t look huge. The benefit here is that owners get a spacious and practical EV, which can comfortably live with family life in a single-car household. A large boot will deal with everything daily life can throw at it, as well as a full holiday load-out, whilst the occupant space is excellent.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Audi’s interiors are top notch currently, and the e-tron is no different. The controls look great and work well, and there is plenty for the driver to customise, getting things just so. A digit instrument panel is just part of that, and then there are dual screens on the centre console, featuring haptic feedback for improved accuracy.
The test car had digital wing-mirrors, with rear-facing cameras rather than actual mirrors, and a screen placed in the car’s door. The problem is the screen is too low compared to where a driver looks for a wing mirror, particularly on the nearer driver’s door. It’s not a deal-breaker, I’d save the money and stick with conventional ways to look behind you.
AUDI E-TRON 55 QUATTRO: MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Thanks to a few tweaks to software, Audi has unlocked a bit of extra range. Range is up to 255 miles on a charge, from the 241 miles beforehand. It’s not a huge increase, but handy nonetheless, and will quickly add up to fewer charges over the course of a week for most drivers.
In real-world conditions, the range holds up better than it did previously - over and above the extended range. Calculated range from the average efficiency figure (2.9 miles/kWh) brings a charge’s range to around 240 miles. On a long distance run over fast country roads and with plenty of climbs, more than 210 miles was calculated, based on percentage used; that’s over non-EV-friendly terrain. Mix in a greater amount of urban driving, and that range will quickly move up.
Audi’s recharging system is one of the best on the market, and allows drivers to charge their e-tron at up to 150 kW DC and 11 kW AC as standard - there’s a 22 kW AC on-board charger available. Recharging on ultra-rapid 150+ kW points will see a 5-80% top-up in just half an hour. The CCS inlet is found on the driver’s side, between the front wheel and front door, whilst there’s a secondary, near-side Type-2 inlet as well.
The e-tron’s brake energy recuperation system is also excellent, able to capture a significant amount of energy when on full. The user can either leave it in auto or manually control it using the drive-mode select, but neither are as intuitive as rival efforts. Utilised well however, and the range can really be boosted.
There is plenty of choice for e-tron customers. To start with, there is the choice of 55 or 50 models which determines the power and battery size on offer. There is also a body-style choice with the e-tron SUV or e-tron Sportback coupe-SUV, and there’s an S performance version of each body-style. The e-tron 55 SUV comes with a choice of Technik, Sport, S Line, Black Edition, or Vorsprung trims.
Fitted as standard are 20-inch alloys, LED headlights, air suspension, quattro all-wheel drive, drive mode select, leather upholstery, MMI Touch Duo infotainment system with 10.1-inch screen at the top, Audi Virtual Cockpit digital display, keyless entry and start, reversing camera, and wireless phone charging.
AUDI E-TRON 55 QUATTRO: MODEL SUMMARY
There are three main premium electric SUVs in the e-tron’s market - the e-tron itself, plus the I-Pace, and EQC. Each is very different, but the e-tron’s flexibility and size makes a great case for itself. A good range and ultra-rapid charging allow for a highly useful EV set-up, and the e-tron is a practical model with plenty of space and a lovely interior. I just prefer the Jaguar and Mercedes, but it is ‘just’, and the improvements Audi has launched has made that decision closer than ever.
Model tested: Audii e-tron 55 quattro First Edition
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: Twin electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Technik, Sport, S Line, Black Edition, or Vorsprung
On-road price: e-tron 55 Quattro range from £72,925
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars