QUIET COMFORT
evo India|July 2021
Who said EVs are one-trick ponies? The Audi e-tron is a refreshing take on the genre!
AATISH MISHRA
THERE’S TWO WAYS AN ELECTRIC CAR CAN GO. One is the mentally fast route, that forced our otherwise eloquent Editor to resort to using abbreviated profanities in his story elsewhere in this magazine. The other is this. Passing up the need to cause internal haemorrhaging to focus on the other thing that EVs do really well. Silence. Yes, I know all EVs are silent, stop coming at me with your pitchforks. What I mean is, not all of them choose to build their entire experience around the silence and the experience it can deliver. In the Audi e-tron, you won’t be inviting your buddies to blow their minds when you put your foot down. Instead, your buddies will be queuing up for some alone time in the bubble of tranquility that its cabin is.

Okay, it’s not completely silent. It makes a hum. A whine. Think Iron Man’s suit charging up its repulsers for an attack. That sound is essentially a pedestrian warning system that alerts people that this 2.5 tonne SUV is creeping about in the vicinity. But it’s unlike anything you’d hear on a regular car. It’s otherworldly. You feel like The Jetsons in one of their space cars. But that’s just at rolling speeds, and if you have the windows rolled down. Roll ’em up and get going in the e-tron and you’re enveloped in a deep hush.

I may have mislead you at the start. It’s not fast by every objective measure, but it's not slow either. The e-tron will hustle if you ask it to, but what sets it apart from other high-end EVs is that you won’t feel disorienting levels of g-forces off the line. Performance is in step with the combustion-engined Q8; even the S5 Sportback. In our VBOX tests, it launched itself to 100kmph in a comfortable 5.8 seconds. These big, heavy EVs can pull off ridiculously quick launches but the e-tron isn’t trying to win any drag races. Instead, that 355bhp and 591Nm (which gets pushed to 402bhp and 664Nm with Boost mode) is tuned to deliver immediate performance in a manner that is luxurious. It still has breathtaking real world performance, though. Between 30 and 170kmph, floor it and it fires itself down the road with a quiet ferocity that few other cars can match. And it’s unrelenting. No torque curves. No gears to climb through. Nothing to interrupt that one uninterrupted mountain of torque that flings you at the horizon.

The e-tron’s biggest flex is how it rides, though. It’s effortless. There’s some heavy duty air suspension on there, suspending all 2.5 tonnes of car, but you’d never know it. It glides over bumps. Forget feeling, you barely hear them inside the cabin. The e-tron runs on massive 20-inch wheels but there are equally high profile tyres cushioning you from the road. And the SUV flattens out everything thrown at you. This is a luxury car that has its priorities straight. Comfort will not be forgone no matter what. The EQC and the I-Pace, there’s a firmness to them that belies their weight over bad roads. Not the e-tron. It feels just as plush as the Q7 did — and continues to deliver on Audi’s traditional strength of being the best riding cars in their class.

Ground clearance? Never an issue. It has got plenty in its standard-setting but it will also raise its air springs to give you the ability to clamber over the worst roads India can throw at you. And this is critical because with the batteries in the floor, you don’t want to be grounding them out. The EQC with its steel springs is particularly guilty of this. But the e-tron just tippy-toes over everything without breaking into a sweat.

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