Design and Appearance
The Audi E-Tron is not a small car – it’s a little larger than the Q5 but smaller than a Q8, and it looks more like the latter than the former. That is to say, it has a relatively low, coupe-like glasshouse and a sleeker profile than an upright one.
That aside, it doesn’t really scream ‘I’m a tech monster!’ the way a Tesla Model X does every time you open the doors, though there is a full width taillight bar at the rear, complete with fancy light-up sequence when you unlock the car.
Beside the large silver grille – which is an active aerodynamic device – there isn’t actually much to clue viewers in about the car’s lack of petrol power. In fact the styling, like the Mercedes-Benz EQC and unlike the Jaguar I-Pace, seems to be aimed at drawing people who want an EV that doesn’t shout about its nature.
It’s an EV yes, but it’s an Audi first, and in a good way, not like ‘America First’.
Interior and Features
Slip into the driver’s seat and it’s Big Audi all the way, with a familiar triple-screen layout as seen in everything from the A6 to the Q8.
One active instrument display, at 12.3-inches, one infotainment touchscreen on the left, at 10.2-inches, and below that is an 8.6-inch control touchscreen, for climate and typing things in.
As noted in other Audis, it’s a very slick system and has every feature one could wish from a luxury car – the graphics are sharp, there’s no lag, it has smartphone connectivity, useful voice control, and enough option menus to compete with a computer. The dark theme does make fingerprints obvious though, and like any other touch device, we recommend not using the touchscreen while driving as it’s distracting.
Audi’s useful voice command system can help with that, since it understands simple phrases (‘Find me a Japanese restaurant’), though the range of functions isn’t as wide as BMW’s class-leading Intelligent Personal Assistant.
Super-advanced parking systems have helped mitigate the pain of owning a large SUV in recent times, and the E-Tron has Audi’s 360-degree camera/VR system, which has a virtual representation of the car in-display, so you can see and scroll around the vehicle without getting out at all.
The E-Tron’s unique differences are the small design touches on the dashboard (our E-Tron had a nice grey satin wood panelling) and the E-Tron badge, while the centre armrest console is now a large storage space, and the shifter design is very horizontally-oriented, though only the silver bit at the end actually moves.
At this price level we would have liked to see more active safety systems – there’s only Audi’s forward collision warning/mitigation system (Pre-Sense Front) standard.