Electric vehicles seem to be the new “sporty” in today’s world of hybrid supercars and “ludicrous mode” nonsense. Why have both commuter and sports car markets been touched by EVs, yet the luxury segment hasn’t? I wouldn’t necessarily consider some of the gimmicky features of certain other brands to be luxury features, when at the end of the day the only luxury thing about some of these cars are the price tags. I’ll admit Tesla, Karma, and others are impressive in their own right, but they’re not exactly Mercedes S-Class material. Audi has managed to climb in the ring and flex their EV muscles with the new e-tron fully electric SUV and take aim at the missing link in the luxury segment.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw the exterior of the e-tron SUV was: “It’s just an electric Q7.” Once I got inside of the vehicle, my thoughts were swayed towards: “This is more Lamborghini Urus than Q7…” Immediately, I felt Audi had really got it right in the interior department – modern, ergonomic, and didn’t once make me feel they used cheaper materials to cut costs. That’s something you can’t say with confidence when inside other EVs.
Let’s make something clear though – Audi is setting the bar here with the e-tron SUV. I don’t feel like they should be compared with other existing cars in the market; but it must be done because, for the time being, I think comparison will help demonstrate how different it really is.
The drive in the e-tron is about as comfortable as anything I have ever been in. We tried all of the various modes that it offers, but I preferred “comfort” as it made me feel I was in a Bentley Bentayga. I’d even say the e-tron is more luxurious than the Bentayga in ways you wouldn’t traditionally think of. Of course, there is no status like Bentley status.
Even though the Bentayga is much faster, it’s not something I’d care about if I were in the market for a big comfortable commuter SUV. I can’t stress enough how soft the ride was in “comfort” mode, and it almost made me dismiss the fact that there was more body roll than I would have expected in “dynamic” mode, despite the variable-height adaptive air suspension. Something left to be desired in the handling department? Maybe… but then again, you’re asking too much of this big SUV, especially when considering its price tag of sub-$90k when fully optioned-out.
One thing I will complain about is the range anxiety. Yes, it’s real and I experienced it. From having a theoretical 200+ mile range, to having to re-charge using an outdoor electrical outlet at Caitlyn Jenner’s house (yeah, that really happened… you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), to making it back to AlphaLuxe HQ with only 23 miles of range left… we began to feel like endurance racers struggling to conserve fuel for that last hour of racing.
Luckily the regenerative braking actually helps quite a bit when going downhill. It made up for some of the energy lost going up, but not all of it.
As much as I hate to blame manufacturers for this range anxiety issue, it’s the only way it will be solved. There is nobody other than the manufacturers to hold accountable for not being able to use the products they sell us. It’s ridiculous that the one charging station we drove to ended up having some kind of malfunction and therefore gave us even more anxiety. If the infrastructure supported the vehicles thoroughly, this would never be an issue.
On a side note, Audi is giving e-tron owners 1,000 kWh of charging to use at Electrify America fast-charging stations within the first 4-years of ownership.
Now that that’s out of the way, back to the good stuff. The e-tron is now my favorite EV because it’s the only one that I’ve seen enter the market and be its own car. It’s an Audi that just happens to be electric. It doesn’t push the “ELECTRIFY THE WORLD” agenda on you nor make you feel like you have to go vegan just because you drive one. Now part of that may be because Audi didn’t market the vehicle enough, at least in my opinion. If I didn’t have friends that worked at Audi dealerships, I would probably just think “e-tron” was just some fake Iron Man car for a movie.
Maybe though, the e-tron needs to find itself in the field amongst Telsa Model Xs rather than something like the Jaguar I-Pace, which I feel isn’t even a comparison. Maybe that would make it the ultimate luxury vehicle.
Imagine the next generation of e-tron having suicide doors and doing 0-60 mph in god-like speeds. That would market itself. Instead of making up the future though, what we need to do is appreciate what we have in the present, which is a peek into the future: the Audi e-tron.
Primary Author’s Biography
Michael Gallardo found interest in cars at around 6 years old. Going to the drag strip to watch NHRA races and riding in his Dad’s VW Beetle were the earliest memories that he can credit his passion to. A year after high school, Michael bought his first car, a 1986 Porsche 944. Ever since then, he has been switching it up and trying to experience all of the cars that he possibly can. Interests include watching Formula 1, going to the shooting range, collecting watches, trying new places to eat, and an occasional round of golf.