Test Drive in collaboration with Continental Cars Ltd Malta
Two weeks before the COVID pandemic hit our island, I had the immense pleasure of taking the new Audi e-tron out for a test drive for an entire day. Being the TV host of the motoring program Acceler8 on Net TV this year, combined with my passion for beautiful cars throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to experience quite a few new launch cars, especially in the past 10 years. So when I received the invitation by Continental Cars to test drive the beautiful new Audi e Tron recently launched worldwide, my heart skipped a beat. How could I refuse? This was going to be my first Audi All-Electric SUV test drive!
So I turned up at the Audi showroom in the morning, together with my photographer Marin, received a briefing from the sales manager about the technicalities, the gadgets and the important safety measures and off we went to experience this beautiful machine! The plan was to cover as much of Malta as possible to get a good feel of how the car handles on straights, corners, traffic, and slightly offroad tracks too!
At first glance, the design is sexy, classy and stunning as are all Audi models. A recurring design theme I noticed among new Audis is the rear light bar. As on the A6, A7 and Q8, it stretches across the entirety of the e-tron’s rear end. Suitably futuristic.
The exterior lines scream Audi, elegant, refined, and aggressively appealing. The interior is spacious and high quality. You and four passengers will have enough headroom and legroom to enjoy a pleasant ride. Thanks to the total storage volume of 660 liters, the Audi e-tron would also make it practical to go off on holiday.
Sustainability by the brand
I did a little research and over the next four years, Audi claims it will put sustainability at the forefront of its product strategy, investing as much as €14 billion (£12.5bn) in electric mobility and autonomy. The e-tron, with electric motors made in Hungary, a battery pack from Poland and assembly in Belgium, is the car that kick-starts this revolution – and will, at least in the short term, define how the public perceives Audi as a maker of electric cars.
On paper, the e-tron looks like a strong offering. Performance, range and price all look competitive in principle, while the e-tron’s charging capabilities are class-leading. Moreover, the designers have cautiously adapted the same instantly recognizable aesthetic that has driven the brand’s sales successes elsewhere.
Just how revolutionary does it feel out on the road, and can it offer the usability and refinement to justify a hefty asking price, or perhaps even driving enjoyment where many would still least expect to find it? Let’s find out.
Power 403bhp Torque 490lb ft 0-60mph 5.4sec 30-70mph in fourth na Fuel economy 2.3mpkWh CO2 emissions 0g/km 70-0mph 45.0m
The Audi e-tron weighs around 5,700 lbs, which is simply massive. There are elephants that don’t weigh 5,700 lbs. Most of that weight is down low though, in the belly of the car, as that’s where the battery lives. Just that battery pack alone weighs 1,500 lbs. So it does have a low center of gravity for an SUV, which helps it through corners. Admittedly, its weight is unnoticeable while driving normally. In fact, while just cruising around, its light steering and punchy electric torque actually make it feel quite agile.
The Audi e-tron sports a 95 kWh battery pack and is capable of charging at 150 kW. More importantly, it’s capable of sustaining that charging speed for almost its entire charge cycle. From about 10-percent to almost 80-percent, the e-tron can charge at 150 kW. That gives it the broadest band of fast charging of any EV on the market. That’s more important than a lot of critics might claim.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit
Taking the wheel for a whole day driving across the island to both the south and the north of Malta, meant some quality time with the e-tron’s digital forward controls. There are three digital screens to feed information to your face. The first is an all-digital dash showing relevant information like speed, range, charge, drive time, etc.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit can be tweaked to your preference, too, so you can have your nav right in front of you if you choose. The centre console has a touchscreen for infotainment and nav duties, and just below is a screen dedicated to air con and such. The nav display also shows a big blue pool around your current location, marking the out limit of your range so you know where you might need to stop. It’s all slick and lag free, offering a pleasing haptic buzz to let you know when you’ve pressed a button.
During my first run with the car it became pretty clear that Audi’s gone to lengths not to make an electric car, but a car that happens to be electric. Its power delivery is smooth, its ride supple and forgiving, but it doesn’t scream about its electric powertrain – it simply gets on with the business of being a car.
Choose your colours to reflect your taste and personality
I asked about the colours and what’s exciting is that you can give your Audi e-tron a personal touch by choosing the paint colour. There are a total of twelve tones to choose from, including exclusive Antigua blue. With accents in high-voltage orange, the Audi e-tron highlights its character as a purely electric vehicle. They can be found, for example, on the e-tron logo on the electric tailgate and optionally on the calipers. The color-highlighted wheel arch covers and door sills convey the message: the Audi e-tron is an off-road vehicle.
What is Audi’s recycling strategy for the batteries?
As the heart of the electric vehicle, the batteries are designed with a consistent focus on premium quality and safety and so that they last for the vehicle’s entire service life. Audi currently recycles batteries that are returned, for example from our plug-in hybrid models or pre-production Audi e-tron vehicles. This is done at various recycling companies in accordance with the statutory requirements which apply in the relevant markets.
Well, from my write up, you can understand that I thoroughly enjoyed this test drive and I cannot find anything negative to say about it. I was left pleasantly surprised at how silent and light this car feels on Maltese roads and I recommend it, especially to Audi lovers who wish to go green on their next car. Five years in the making, the e-tron represents a new era of the electric vehicle – and a new era of Audi.di.
I hope you enjoyed this feature as much as I enjoyed preparing it.
Looking forward to the next test drive… Which car will it be?
Audi e-tron 55 quattro
Available in Malta Now
Starting price from € 75,000 including electric Government Grant and Scrappage Scheme
Car: Audi eTron, Continental Cars Ltd
Outfits: Armani Exchange,Trilogy Ltd
Hair: Christine Cortis, Stylistics
Photography: Marin Babanov for Blog by Grazielle (copyrighted)