AUDI’S journey into the world of fully electric cars has begun. Or “electric goes Audi” as the company likes to say.

What it has achieved is a luxury car very much in the Audi mould that not only breaks new ground but ensures that those prepared to take the leap from the internal combustion engine into the world of electric motoring can do so with the minimum of fuss.

Costing £2 billion to develop, the e-tron has emerged not only through extraordinary investment but from lessons learned through Formula E. Audi plans to invest about 14 billion euros in electric mobility, digitalisation and autonomous driving between now and 2023.

The target for Audi is to produce four fully electric cars by the end of 2020 and a total of 20 electric vehicles by 2025, when a third of Audi cars will be electric.

With battery technology that gives it a stated range of 241 miles, the e-tron sits somewhere between the Q5 and Q7 in dimensions but with a lower centre of gravity and weighing in at a hefty 2,490kg.

The e-tron delivers on many fronts, not least on range. I tested it over 120 miles of Yorkshire Dales countryside and market towns to get an idea of whether it would reach its claimed range, and from a start range indication of 220 miles I returned to base with 85 miles of range still stored. That’s very reassuring.

It also has what is probably the best cockpit display I have ever come across in a regular car. Utilising the superb 12.3-inch virtual cockpit behind the steering wheel and with a clutch of screens to survey, it’s slightly futuristic but never nerdy.

All is intuitive, designed to provide a relaxing environment. It is also very relaxing to drive, yet there is 402bhp on hand to provide plenty of whoosh when required.

You can opt for different drive modes if the need arises, including a boost feature for sub-six second 0 to 62mph acceleration, but for the most part you will simply enjoy the hushed environment and ultra-smooth progress.

With virtually no wind or tyre noise, the only sound is the faint whine at start-off. Adaptive air suspension negates the effects of rough surfaces, while all is serene is the plush cabin.

The specification is top notch: 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, electric quattro drive, that adaptive air suspension, a navigation system with specific aids on charging points, leather upholstery, a parking aid and cruise control with speed limiter.

There’s no central transmission tunnel in the rear of the cabin either, so three rear seat passengers can all be seated in comfort.

You can even specify virtual door mirrors, which utilise slim cameras on the outside instead of conventional mirrors and display screens on the inside of the doors, but I found the experience a difficult one to adjust to because it requires head movement to view the screens.

A 95kWh battery mounted beneath the passenger compartment is the lifeblood of the e-tron. It feeds two electric motors – one per axle – which jointly deliver an output of up to 300kW.

The two motors are always able to deliver the appropriate quantity of drive to each axle for optimal control and composure, effectively taking the quattro all-wheel-drive principle into the electric age.

Charging the e-tron via the ports positioned conveniently on each of its front wings is a simple process. At the touch of a button the covers for each port are propelled smoothly downwards to reveal sockets that can connect the car to a home AC electricity supply via conventional means or using a home wallbox, and to fast DC charging stations at up to 150 kW, the latter enabling recharging to 80 per cent of capacity in as little as 30 minutes.

Technology not surprisingly takes centre stage throughout the e-tron – the MMI touch response concept that first introduced intuitive touch-screen functionality into the latest A8 and is gradually progressing through the range is the advanced operating system at the heart of this car.

The e-tron does not come cheap at £71,520, but it is virtually flawless as a fully electric SUV. Yes, it does not quite have the range of the Jaguar I-Pace or the acceleration of the more expensive Tesla Model X, but as an all-round package it makes a superb statement in what is a brave new world for motor manufacturers.

For those ready to make the transition to fully electric motoring, the e-tron is a very attractive proposition.


Audi e-tron 55 quattro

Price: £71,520

Power: 95kWh battery feeding two electric motors to deliver 300kW/402bhp

Drivetrain: single speed automatic with e-quattro drive

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 5.7 seconds; top speed 124mph

Driving range: 241 miles

CO2 emissions: 0


Performance: *****

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ****

OVERALL: *****