Audi’s first-ever electric vehicle, the e-tron, was launched in 2018 in the form of the e-tron 55 Quattro. In 2019, Audi followed up the closely related e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro, sharing the 55 platform and powertrain but with more coupé-like styling. Now the range grows again, with a new model, the Audi e-tron 50 Quattro. Same prestige looks and advanced features, different power output and range, and crucially for some, a lower entry price to Audi electric motoring.
In size and format Audi’s all-electric e-tron sits somewhere between Audi’s conventionally powered Q5 and Q7 models, even though it’s built around a radically different electric platform. Just like a ‘normal’ Audi, it’s classy, imposing and well-proportioned, seating five in comfort. Apart from the badge, charging flaps and different grille treatment most onlookers won’t notice that it’s powered by electric motors. A flat underbody, aerodynamic wheels and a controllable air inlet in the grille help give the e-tron a slippery 0.27 coefficient of drag. A noteworthy optional design feature are the two stalks which replace door mirrors with cameras; these feed two miniature screens on either end of the front dashboard.
There are now two powertrains for the e-tron, namely 50 and 55 (though the related e-tron Sportback is currently only available with the 55 specification). Both have electric motors on each axle delivering all-wheel drive, but the-tron 50 has a smaller 71kWh battery and maximum power output of 230kW (308hp). This delivers 0-62mph acceleration of 6.8 seconds in boost mode and maximum range of 186 miles. In contrast, the more powerful e-tron 55 has a 95kWh battery, an output of 300kW (408hp) and can sprint from zero to 62mph in just 5.5 seconds. The e-tron 55 can also travel further between charges, with a range of up to 270 miles.
The e-tron has no fewer than five screens on the dash if the rear-view camera option is chosen. At the extremes of the dash are two (optional) small screens connected to cameras which take the place of conventional door mirrors. In the centre console are two main touchscreens, mounted vertically; the upper 10.1-inch display controls infotainment, telephony, navigation and dedicated e-tron settings. The lower 8.6-inch screen is dedicated to climate, text input and convenience functions. Control is either via touch with haptic feedback or via the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Selectable drive modes include Efficient, Off-Road, Comfort and Dynamic.
Among the standard safety features of Audi e-tron models are automatic emergency braking (AEB) for pedestrians, cyclists and city driving as well as a lane assist and speed limit monitoring. The optional City Assist package adds intersection assist, rear cross-traffic assist, lane change and exit warnings. Another option, the Tour package, includes adaptive cruise assist which can brake, accelerate and make minor steering corrections to maintain a safe cruise in motorway traffic.
Verdict: People love the style of an Audi SUV so the e-tron, while using a new form of propulsion, doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The new Audi e-tron 50 makes the range a little more accessible yet still has all its more powerful stablemates’ virtues. It’s spacious, fast, extraordinarily refined and makes a great choice for the step to zero-emissions motoring. And even the factory where it’s built is carbon-neutral.