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Audi E-Tron finally arrives

By Daniel Gardner, 10 Jun 2020 Car News

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

Online orders commence June 19 for Audi’s E-Tron full-electric foray

  • E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback launching simultaneously
  • Priced from less than $140,000
  • 1800kg towing capacity
  • Up to 400km of zero-emissions range

After a series of delays and setbacks, Audi is, at last, taking Australian orders for its first series production electric vehicle, the E-Tron.

Online registrations will go live from June 19 this year and the first deliveries are expected in September.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

According to the German carmaker, about 100 excited Australians have already got in early and placed deposits for the large luxury SUV, despite an exact asking price remaining unavailable until today.

But after several launch date revisions due to unexpectedly high global demand, the company has now confirmed the battery-powered Audi will go on sale from $137,700 before on-road costs.

Read next: Audi E-Tron review

That price is for the entry-level E-Tron 50 which plugs in the line-up with a 71kWh battery that sends 230kW and 540Nm to all four wheels via two electric motors and an electrical evolution of the company’s proprietary Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

Above that, the E-Tron 55 costs $146,700 and boosts battery capacity to 95kWh with a corresponding jump in performance to 300kW and 664Nm - enough to accelerate to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds versus the 50’s 6.8s.

Read next: Audi E-Tron takes on Pikes Peak

Range is dependent on a number of environmental factors, says Audi, but provisionally rates the E-Tron 50’s range at about 300km, while the 55 will go about 400km before needing an electron feed.

Alongside the more practical SUV, a Sportback model of the E-Tron is also up for grabs, adding a more slippery and elegant version with the same mechanicals and a slightly elevated price.

Customers will be charged $148,700 for the 50 Sportback and $157,700 for the 55 Sportback.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

Finally, the arrival of Audi’s electric foray is being marked by just 70 examples of a special First Edition costing $159,600 or $169,950 for the Sportback.

First Edition variants add to the 55’s mechanical and performance base with a number of options included as a deal sweetener.

Read next: Audi Q4 E-Tron will follow

Unsurprisingly, those prices land competitively close to the E-Tron’s handful of direct rivals, including the Mercedes-Benz EQC that costs from $137,900 and the $124,100 Jaguar I-Pace.

Charging ahead

The new Audi EV has a charging socket on each side. Plug into the passenger-side AC socket with an 11kW home-charging kit and the E-Tron 50 will take a full charge in 6.0 hours, while the 55 needs about 8.5 hours.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

However, park alongside the correct fast-charger and the driver-side socket will allow 55 versions to charge with 150kW (or 120kW for the 50), allowing an 80-percent top-up in just 30 minutes.

Read the paper and sip a servo coffee for 45 minutes and your E-Tron will be fully charged.

Customers will be offered a ‘home check’ inspection of their power infrastructure and the option to install special JetCharge home fast charging equipment at additional cost.

If requested, the installation will be completed before the E-Tron is delivered.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

As well, six years of ChargeFox membership is included with the sale of an E-Tron, allowing owners to use a network of about 1100 public charging locations for no extra cost.

More chargers are being added to the ultra-high-speed chargers, which use only renewable sources of power to provide the EV power.

Unlike some other EV brands, Audi is guaranteeing its lithium-ion battery packs not just for complete failure, but capacity degradation where the unit has a significant reduction in range compared with a new battery.

The battery guarantee is for up to eight years or 160,000km.

If required, Audi's specially trained technicians will replace individual cells rather than removing the entire battery pack. The solution is more cost-effective, faster and more environmentally sensitive, according to the company.

Read next: Electric car sharing is coming

As per many EVs, the E-Tron uses regenerative braking to top up the battery with energy that would otherwise be wasted during conventional friction braking.

Steering wheel paddles are used not to change gears (of which there is  one) but to select the level of regenerative braking.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

In its most aggressive regen mode, the range is optimised by up to 30 percent, says Audi.

Pulling e-power

Unusually, Audi has also highlighted the suitability of the E-Tron for towing. While many manufacturers avoid the subject of range-destroying hauling, Audi says the E-Tron can pull up to 1800kg of boats, caravans, trailers or whatever you like.

While the company acknowledges that towing will significantly impact the E-Tron's range, it points out that heavy loads will increase the effect of regenerative braking and provide a greater percentage of range-boosting.

Related: Electric cars are surprisingly good for towing

Interior space is said to be generous thanks in part to the absence of a transmission tunnel intruding into the cabin area (With an electric motor on each axle, a connecting transmission is not necessary).

Rear seat room is particularly obvious, says Audi, while the boot offers up to 660 litres of luggage volume. The E-Tron is very close in dimensions to the company’s Q7 large SUV.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

The Sportback’s more coupe-like profile sacrifices 45 litres of space but both models offer another 60-litres of storage under the bonnet.

Size and range comes at a cost and the E-Tron tips the scales at a hefty 2555kg for the 55, while the 50’s smaller battery saves some mass for a kerb weight of 2445kg.

Audi went to significant lengths to extend the E-Tron’s real-world range including particular attention to the aerodynamics. An active grille can shutter itself when maximum cooling is not required for lower drag, while a flat but dimpled underbody minimises turbulent air flowing under the vehicle.

E-mirror

For those customers after the ultimate drag-reduction, Audi is offering its ‘virtual wing mirrors’ that replace conventional side mirrors with cameras and LED touchscreens placed on the inside of the door.

The optional feature not only chops overall drag coefficient by 0.02, but has safety advantages with improved low-light vision and a minimised blind spot.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

Read next: Cameras for door mirrors used to be a fantasy

Cameras replacing mirrors is a production-car first and will cost customers an extra $3500 but is available bundled into a Premium Plus package for $9700 or $6700 when added to any Sportback version.

Standard gear includes Audi’s MMI information system which offers EV-specific functions including navigation that can calculate if a charge will be required en-route, most efficient route planning, and the effect of heavy ‘consumers’ on range, such as air conditioning and heating.

In addition to Audi’s now commonplace Virtual Cockpit fully-digital instrument panel, a dual haptic touchscreen dominates the E-Tron’s central dash area.

The top 10.1-inch screen is for all information and entertainment, while the lower 8.6-inch touchscreen looks after climate and comfort settings.

2020 Audi E-Tron quattro

A high level of safety is standard as recognised by ANCAP and its highest five-star rating thanks to state of the art driver assistance systems, other road-user protection technology and eight airbags.

Milano leather can be upgraded to the same Valcona hide found in the A8 limousine flagship, along with sports front seats and leather dash upholstery with the $2950 Premium Interior Pack.

Finally, if a growing national fast charger network, up to 400km range, and the latest mileage-boosting electronics and information systems aren’t enough to dissolve so-called range anxiety, Audi is including six years of roadside assistance - which includes helping with a flat battery.