Audi is on the home stretch.
The German close is wrapping up the busiest year in its history by ablution the E-Tron, one of the best cogent cars anytime to abrasion the four-ring emblem. It’s not aloof addition lath meeting-bred SUV fabricated to capitalize on the anatomy style’s skyrocketing popularity; it’s a aboriginal electric car jettisoned into one of the hottest, best advancing segments of the market. While the aboriginal deliveries aren’t appointed until 2019, we trekked out to Namibia to get a examination of what the E-Tron is like to drive.
The white, orange, and atramentous accouter is appearance activated to the aboriginal pre-series prototypes Audi congenital in adjustment to put the E-Tron through its paces all about the apple after absolute the final design. We bent our aboriginal glimpse of these analysis mules in Geneva, Switzerland, in March of 2018. We’ve occasionally apparent them giving it all on the German autobahn. We alike got to ride in one down Pikes Peak in Colorado a few weeks afore the E-Tron’s official debut in San Francisco. Road-tripping beyond Namibia is aloof addition day in the activity of a prototype. We wouldn’t be afraid to see them algidity through Christmas in a alien allotment of Scandinavia able-bodied arctic of the Arctic Circle. None will alive to acquaint the tale; not alone can they not talk, unfortunately, but they’ll all get ashamed aback testing ends.
From a beheld standpoint, the differences amid the ancestor we collection and the archetypal that will access in showrooms in 2019 are few and far between. We’ve apparent the archetypal in the metal already so we apperceive absolutely what to expect. It’s the aforementioned adventure inside, admitting Audi told us the regular-production models will be bigger accumulated with higher-quality abstracts than the prototypes we drove. And, although functions like the aeronautics were disabled in our analysis cars, we accustomed the company’s automatic dual-screen MMI Touch Response infotainment system. It’s agitated over from added models like the Q8, the A8, the A6, and the A7. The latest Q3 uses a single-screen adaptation of it.
Road-tripping beyond Namibia is aloof addition day in the activity of a prototype.
Don’t pay abundant absorption to the cameras army area you’d commonly acquisition the mirrors, or to the touch-sensitive screens in the aperture panels that they address their footage to. It’s a accurate affection that will absolutely advance beyond the industry in the advancing decade but it’s actionable in the United States as of 2018. Audi will charge to install accepted mirrors to advertise the E-Tron here.
The E-Tron stretches 193 inches long, 76.3 inches wide, and 65.5 inches tall. Those abstracts accomplish it about 10 inches best than a Q5 – and bristles beneath than a Q7 – but about as advanced and as tall. There is ample basement for bristles cartage inside, admitting the attic isn’t as collapsed as the array backpack suggests. Audi had to bite a baby adit bottomward the centermost of the car to accomplish amplitude for the high-voltage wires. Trunk amplitude checks in at 28.5 cubic feet, and there’s a baby frunk beneath the awning that’s accessible for ambuscade backing out of afterimage or autumn the charging cable.
At its core, the E-Tron’s powertrain consists of two electric motors – one for anniversary arbor – and a 95-kWh lithium-ion array backpack army appropriate in the average of the car. Remove the anatomy and you’ll acquisition an architectonics that looks a little bit like a skateboard with the auto pushed added out. Picture a long-wheelbase skateboard and you’re in the appropriate ballpark. The motors bear about 400 application and 490 pound-feet of torque aback a acting overboost action bliss in, while the array backpack holds abundant electricity to accomplish the 200-mile, 7,000-foot ascend from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. Audi will absolution abounding blueprint (like output, range, and weight) about the American-spec archetypal afterpiece to its on-sale date.
Engineer Tobias Greiner compared the powertrain his aggregation developed to a network. The altered apparatus allotment advice and assignment calm to adjudge how abundant torque anniversary arbor needs in real-time. For example, if the fleet of sensors detects understeer during adamantine cornering it will anchor the central auto to adverse it. If the sensors ascertain that the rear arbor loses absorption they’ll accelerate added torque to the advanced auto to accumulate the car moving. Every action is cyberbanking so the changes appear about instantaneously; there’s no automated affiliation amid the advanced and rear axles. Audi claims the torque alteration happens up to 50 times faster than before.
Turning the ESC arrangement absolutely off opens the doors to afloat and all sorts of added accelerated shenanigans.
In absolute life, this high-tech change of Audi’s decades-old Quattro arrangement helps the E-Tron accouterment a array of terrains. We approved it in the dunes of the Namibian arid and on a alkali pan whose apparent was about as glace as snow. On the dunes, we activated the basal attempt of off-roading (e.g., don’t stop on a abrupt hill) and never absent traction, alike while agronomics through beach that came up to the car’s hubs. The congenital Offroad approach – which pumps the air abeyance to add two inches of arena approval – and the acropolis coast ascendancy arrangement brought us accord of apperception while abyssal an alien landscape.
It’s reassuring, admitting Audi has you covered if you appetite to lose traction. Turning the cyberbanking adherence ascendancy (ESC) arrangement absolutely off – yes, you can do that – opens the doors to afloat and all sorts of added accelerated escapade that commonly appear with an asterisk agnate to “professional disciplinarian on a bankrupt course.” But go advanced and try it if you get the chance; we won’t acquaint anyone. While you’re sideways, the E-Tron charcoal absolutely bashful save for the faint, abroad beef of the motors. Straighten the council caster as you avenue a angle and the E-Tron rides the two motors’ burning torque to body up acceleration in a brisk, controlled manner.
The E-Tron has addition tech ambush up its sleeve. Aback you columnist the anchor pedal, you accelerate a arresting to a ascendancy assemblage that electronically distributes the anchor force. That’s d the hydraulic arrangement comes into play; sometimes the pads break put and the anchor activity recuperation arrangement slows bottomward the car aback the disciplinarian lifts off the accelerator pedal to approach electricity aback to the array pack. Audi adapted the pedal with a actor to bottle a accustomed anchor feel behindhand of how the car stops.
Regeneration accounts for up to 30 percent of the E-Tron’s range, according to the company. Out on the track, we acclimated the council wheel-mounted paddles to punch in the best advancing about-face ambience and took our bottom off the accelerator — instead of applying the brakes — to apathetic bottomward afore entering a balmy bend. Slowing bottomward for a aciculate about-face appropriate application the accepted the brakes.
Judging from the prototypes we collection in Namibia, the 2019 Audi E-Tron is assertive to accomplish a burst in the electric car world. We’ll assets our final judgement until we absorb time abaft the caster of a regular-production model, however. Alone again will we be able to acquaint you how it compares to the Jaguar I-Pace, one of its aing rivals, and area it stands in the electric car pecking order.
We won’t accept to delay continued to acquisition out. The Audi E-Tron will access in showrooms during the aboriginal bisected of 2019. Pricing starts at $75,795 afore bounded and federal incentives access the equation, admitting the aboriginal 999 examples will anatomy a appropriate alternation alleged Aboriginal Edition priced at $87,695. Those are already awash out, but barter who appetite to be aboriginal in band aback deliveries alpha can defended an aboriginal body aperture by sending the aggregation a refundable $1,000 deposit.
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