Quick Drive | Quick Review: 2019 Audi e-tron Premium Plus
*Disclaimer: 2019 Audi e-tron test-drive courtesy of Audi Hoffman Estates. Check them out here.*
SUVs plus battery power. These days, it feels like almost every luxury brand has at least one electric vehicle that’s an SUV, and it makes sense. Consumers in the United States like SUVs so why not make them without gas or diesel-powered engine? Although there are some trade-offs to this concept, manufacturers are still trying to compete with Tesla. Enter Audi and it’s e-tron.
This may not be Audi’s first electric vehicle, but it is their first electric vehicle from the ground up. It’s a handsome vehicle and even more striking than most of the regular non-performance lineup. The Premium Plus model I test-drove had Mythos Black metallic paint with the standard 20” 5-spoke alloy wheels. Even as a basic color and wheel combination, the e-tron has a presence to it. My favorite is the design of the orange “e-tron” badges on both sides of the car. The one thing I thought was a little funny was the e-tron still has a massive grill that does aid in aerodynamics and the shark-like front-end.
Stepping into the interior is pure high-end Audi. A no-cost Okapi Brown interior helped to accentuate black and chrome trim. The seats are comfortable with both heated and ventilated functions. Since I tested this in summer, I tried the ventilated function. It works decent but other cars have stronger ventilated seats. The rear seats had the Cold Weather Package that includes heated seats. Along with this, there’s climate control, two USB ports, and a 12V outlet. All-in-all, the interior feels like a typical Audi: comfortable and high-quality.
Being an EV, the e-tron is packed full of features. There are three screens for the Virtual Cockpit, infotainment system, and climate control. The Virtual Cockpit can be controlled by the steering while the other screens are touch screens with haptic feedback. This is nice because you can tell that you’re actually hitting the screens. Going through the screens is fairly easy while stationary and you can modify them while driving. We are in an age where touchscreens dominate interiors but Audi does a good job of making the e-tron still inviting even with three touchscreens.
This e-tron also had the Driver’s Assistance Plus Package. Included in this package are adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, intersection assist, and traffic sign recognition. I was able to use all of these while driving and they worked quite well. Driving was pleasant because the e-tron has a Bang and Olufson® sound system with 3D sound. My 90s rock sounded very good. All-in-all, sitting in the e-tron was a great experience. Next up is the test-drive.
Hold on! Before we get into driving, there are some odd things in the e-tron. The gear-selector is in an awkward position. Audi should use either a rotary dial or plain-old buttons since the e-tron doesn’t have gears. Also, it uses a stalk for adaptive-cruise control. This feels cheap in a car this expensive and should be placed on the steering wheel. Next to the gear-selector is an arm-rest that’s used to put your arm on when you’re operating the climate control. Even though touchscreens are the rage these days for everything, simple buttons would eliminate this entire portion.
If you’ve never driven an electric vehicle, it does take some getting used to. Audi e-trons use a dual electric motor and a 95 kWh battery that’s good for 355-horsepower, 414 lb-ft, and a 0-60 MPH time that I never tested out. Just so you know, it’s 5.5 seconds. Power delivery is smooth and the standard air suspension can raise or lower depending on if you put the car in performance, comfort, or maximum efficiency. Regen braking is something that takes some getting used to, but the paddle shifters help to set how much regen activates when you take your foot off of the throttle.
There really aren’t that many negatives, but the main one is important. EVs are judged on their range. For the e-tron, that number is 204 miles, but EVs usually don’t get the manufacturers’ mileage. Take into account how you drive, and that can be between 150-180 miles. The thing is, that’s not that bad. If this is your only vehicle and you travel long distances, an EV may not be for you in the first place. Next, price. The entry into the world of the e-tron is $75,000 and the one I tested was $80,000.
Time for the verdict: should you test-drive the e-tron? Since it’s an EV, the answer is no if you don’t have anywhere to charge or you have range anxiety. If that isn’t the case, definitely go for a test-drive of the e-tron before looking at other luxury electric SUVs. Combining the luxury of Audi with an electric powertrain makes for an entertaining, relaxing, and quick car.
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