Audi’s first EV is unsurprisingly a bigger than Q5 SUV

California is home to Tesla and some of the most stringent air-pollution regulations in the world. It’s therefore quite fitting that Audi chose San Francisco as the global reveal venue for the new E-Tron battery powered SUV.

Keen to do justice to its corporate slogan of Vorsprung Durch Technik, Audi’s engineers and designers have worked tirelessly to produce a car which it feels best serves the interest of customers who are ready to transition to an electric motoring lifestyle.

The E-Tron ranks between Q5 and Q7 in Audi’s line-up and with the benefit of having its batteries in the floor structure, and no engine up front, cabin space is massive compared to most conventionally powered liquid fuel SUVs of a similar size.

A key objective for Audi’s engineers was to enable E-Tron to run 400km on a single charge. Aiding that goal, designers managed to delete the traditional wing-mirrors (replacing them with tiny rear-view cameras). E-Tron also features a sealed underbody, similar to sophisticated racing cars, which reduces drag even further and strangely, for a battery powered vehicle, it has a conventional front grille – to channel cooling air around the battery pack, ensuring optimal operating temperatures.

The 400km range is impressive and Audi says the 95kWh battery pack will be charge to 80% of its capacity from empty, plugged into a 150kW DC fast charger, in a mere 30 minutes. Performance is remarkable too, with the electric motors powering up to 300kW and 664Nm, outputs which compare very favourably with most V8-engined SUVs.

As with most battery vehicles, E-Tron isn’t light. The batteries alone weigh 700kg, but despite that burden of mass, it’s very quick indeed, running the benchmark 0-100kph sprint in 5.7 seconds, before a limiter intervenes at 200kph.

Will it come to South Africa? Well, that is the plan. Audi hopes to have the E-Tron on sale locally by early 2020, but much of that ambition will be decided by the state of South Africa’s electric car recharging infrastructure.

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