Live the EV life
With the world moving rapidly towards electrification, Audi is bringing one of its most successful products to the plugin stage. The Audi e-tron 55 Quattro takes up the task for the German carmaker to introduce EVs in India with the hope to lure conventional luxury SUV buyers into jumping ship towards a plugged-in future.
Audi has recently decided to charge into the Indian market with a bunch of new as well as updated products—everything from luxury sedans to sports cars and SUVs. Part of the brand’s aggressive push has been a slew of electric vehicles too, including the Audi e-tron, e-tron GT and the RS e-tron GT. While the latter ones are low-slung sports cars poised to attract a niche audience, the e-tron SUV is what the German brand is banking their electric hopes on for its customers to lean towards when considering a premium electric SUV.
THE FUTURE OF GREEN MOBILITY
The Audi e-tron shares a lot of its underpinnings with the Audi Q5 while keeping hints of its electric foundations to the bare minimum on the exterior. There’s a distinct grille, wheels and a quirky port at the side that elegantly opens up to unveil the car’s charging socket. The overall proportions are very similar barring the slightly compromised ground clearance which is lost here due to the bulging battery pack placed under the car’s belly. Not to fear though, as our e-tron easily cleared all types of speed breakers in and around Mumbai.
This is the standard SUV but there’s an e-tron Sportback on offer as well. The coupe-like rear on the Sportback apart, both cars are identical, so both carry the same modern, angular, sporty and feature-packed interiors. The build quality inside feels solid and luxurious to touch. Large, crisp high resolution touchscreens fill the cockpit view with individual screens for infotainment, instrumentation and climate control. Audi has worked in a supremely intuitive, haptic feedback system that affirms each ‘screen touch’ ensuring least amount of distraction while driving.
At this point, I’ve driven a fair bit of electric vehicles, including cars from Tesla, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz along with some others and yet, that eerie feeling of complete silence while the car is in motion has still not sunk in. With the e-tron, this amplifies even more as the sound damping inside the SUV has to be one of the best from all the EVs I have driven till date. It is spookily silent where all you can hear most of the time is the sound of my car’s climate control blowing cold air, and that’s it! Just the fact that you’ve got ample ground clearance and a tomb-like silent cabin raises the calm and peacefulness of the daily commute by leaps and bounds. After all, this is what luxury carmakers have been trying to engineer into their machines for years by refining their engines and components to run as quietly as possible. With an EV and great sound deadening, Audi has already achieved it effortlessly with the e-tron.
AT FULL THROTTLE
This isn’t to say that the e-tron is a docile SUV. On the contrary, being electric, the response to throttle input is instant, and to be honest, quite rapid for a car of its size. It really surprised how quick it builds up speed in absolute silence while keeping your head pinned to the back of the seat. The 55 Quattro that we drove comes with 300 horsepower and 664 Nm or torque, enough to propel the 2.5 tonne SUV to 100kmph in just 5.7 seconds, and further on to 200kmph with haste. While moving about in urban areas, the e-tron on ‘comfort’ setting has one of the plushest suspension sets that ensure all passengers stay cosy without letting road undulations rattle the peace and quiet. In this mode, the steering becomes lighter for better manoeuvrability in traffic while the throttle responds more linearly to inputs. Switching to ‘dynamic’ mode, however, is an instant transformation as the steering weighs up while the car becomes more eager to lunge forward at each throttle input. The suspensions stiffen up too, but not to a point where passenger’s comfort is made second priority. That said, around sharp bends, under enthusiastic driving, they offer ample stiffness that the e-tron doesn’t feel wallowy while turning and maintains body composure well, especially for the tall, heavy SUV it is. As the first electric vehicle from Audi India, the e-tron is mighty impressive. It has nailed the important elements-great usable range (350km+real world), good ground clearance for the most atrocious speed breakers, a fine balance of comfort and sportiness while having serious acceleration for a car its size. That said, the only chink in its armour is the price that would appeal to a niche category—those who take electrification seriously and are ready to invest a significant chunk of money all for clean, green luxury mobility.
Photos by: Bhuvan Chowdhary
Price: ₹ 1.14 crore (ex-showroom)