Like all premium labels, the Audi e-tron was expensive. But it has been around for a few years, so there is a way you can get one on your driveway for less than you’d pay for a new electric hatchback like the Volkswagen ID.3 or Mokka E – and that’s by choosing one which has been pre-loved. You can now buy a used e-tron for a third of the price of a £60k new one.
We’ve driven quite a few e-trons here at Electrifying.com and it’s fair to say it causes some head scratching. Sometimes we love them. Other times, not so much….
So we’ve tried to boil it down to find out the secret. And it all comes down to the bling and the battery.
Bling and battery
Let’s start with the bling. Some e-trons are loaded with kit, which is usually a very good thing. We love technology and we like shiny stuff. But it also has the potential to really irritate you.
The e-tron was available with alloys which are up to 22-inch in size. And they look great. Really snazzy. Every time you look back at the car you’ll be proud of them. But every time you are in the car, you’ll curse them because they mean you’ll use more electricity, have less range and the car won’t be as comfortable over bumps. They put a dent of around 10% on your efficiency (depending on how you drive of course), So what you really want are the nice squishy tyres ands smaller wheels. Believe me, it makes it much nicer to live with.
Then there is the battery. Audi initially offered just one size – a whopper 95kWh pack, which is one of the biggest you’ll find on any car. It’s enough to take you up to official range 233 miles between charges, which is meaningful but hardly super-efficicent. - real world around 200 miles. These big-battery versions are called the 55, for reasons which no one has ever been able to explain.
Then Audi brought in a model which was much cheaper, but used a 71kWh battery and had a bit less power. This is called the 50, again for, er, reasons, and is the one we struggle to recommend.
You see it has a claimed range of around 190 miles, which is less than an electric Vauxhall Corsa. And ‘claimed’ is the operative word, because we’ve only ever managed 161 miles. And that’s just irritating in a big, family sized car like the e-tron.
On the plus side, both models can be charged quickly, at service station rapid chargers at 150kWs if you can find one of the new powerful chargers which are starting to pop up everywhere. That was a bit of good forward-thinking by Audi there.
That’s just as well, because charging the e-tron batteries takes a long time by any other means. If you have the big battery version and rely on a three pin plug to top up, guess how long it will take to charge. Go on, have a guess. The answer is almost three and a half. No, not hours. Days….. Even on a home wall box it will take at least 15 hours.
While you’re waiting you can marvel at the beautiful bit of motorised flap action. And you can share the experience with a friend, as there’s one on the other side too!
The pair of flaps have got a proper use of course, as it means you get a bit of choice about how to park at charging points, although the DC rapid is only on the driver's side. It could make the difference if you have an awkward driveway though.
Technology and practicality
Door mirrors are also something you should look for. Yes, door mirrors. Certain models of e-tron have ‘virtual mirrors’ which are actually cameras, which project an image onto little screens inside the car. Now we are all for advancement but there are just infuriating, especially in the rain.
Even on the lesser versions there’s more useful tech though. The sat nav in particular is lovely, and nicer than the smartphone apps you might be used to.
Seven seats aren’t an option, but you won’t have any reason to complain about space for the driver, four passengers or their luggage. Head and legroom in the back are excellent, which means that even taller adults don’t feel cramped. All models have leather, and it does come in more interesting colours than grey, thankfully.
We haven’t heard of any major issues with the car, with only a few niggling faults reported. Servicing is pretty reasonable too – Audi will sell you a plan which will keep an e-tron maintained for around £22 per month. That doesn’t include tyres though, and as this is a big heavy car they do wear quickly. When you come to replace them you’ll be glad you went for the smaller wheels again, as they’re cheaper.