After numerous teases, Audi is finally ready to reveal its first mass-market electric car to the world. The 2019 Audi e-tron is an SUV aimed at the Tesla Model X, but it will also do battle with the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC when it arrives on U.S. shores next year.
The exterior styling is fairly standard SUV, giving little hint of the electric powertrain underneath. Despite choosing an SUV body rather than a more slippery sedan shape, Audi claims aerodynamic efficiency was a priority. Everything from the design of the standard 20-inch wheels to recessed screw connection points was done to cheat the wind, according to Audi. The e-tron’s drag coefficient of 0.28 is better than an I-Pace’s 0.29, but not as good as a Model X’s 0.25.
The e-tron is powered by two electric motors. One motor powers each axle, giving the e-tron all-wheel drive. Audi hasn’t finalized power output for U.S.-spec models, but it previously quoted 402 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque for European-spec models.
U.S. models will be able to do zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, and reach a top speed of 124 mph, according to Audi. On the flip side, the e-tron is equipped with an elaborate regenerative braking system that can handle 90 percent of braking scenarios, according to Audi. The traction-control system can also be finely tuned by directly adjusting the amount of power being put out by the motors. Standard air suspension can raise or lower the ride height in concert with seven driving modes.
Electricity comes courtesy of a 95-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, mounted in two sections under the floor. Audi expects the e-tron to achieve 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) per charge on the European Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure testing cycle, but U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures are not available yet. The e-tron is equipped with a DC fast-charging system that can provide an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Charging from a 240-volt Level 2 AC source takes significantly longer. Owners can set up installation of a charging station through Amazon Home Services, and Audi will provide a portable Level 2 unit that plugs into National Electrical Manufacturers Association 1450 outlets, the same kind used for large appliances.
The five-seat e-tron features the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, similar to the setup used in the A8 sedan and Q8 SUV. A pair of touchscreens – measuring 10.1 inches and 8.6 inches – take the place of almost all analog controls. The system made a good first impression during a ride in a prototype e-tron, but we’ll need to get behind the wheel ourselves to render a final verdict.
In the U.S., the e-tron will be available with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, a 360-degree camera system, and a park assist system that steers the vehicle into spaces. However, a system that replaces exterior mirrors with cameras won’t be available here due to regulatory issues.
Deliveries of the 2019 Audi e-tron begin next year, but Audi is accepting $1,000 refundable deposits now. The initial 999 units will be First Edition models priced at $87,695. They get model-specific Daytona Gray paint, 21-inch wheels, and other cosmetic items. The base e-tron will be the Premium Plus, starting at $84,755, with the Prestige one step back at $82,796. All prices include a mandatory $995 destination charge.
Updated: Added live photos
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