After taking over the Audi A3 Sportback plug-in hybrid, it is a new car from the German brand with rings that is on the test bench of Digital. This time it is the e-tron Sportback, a variant of the 100% electric SUV.
After the X6, X4 signed BMW and Mercedes GLE / GLC, it is Audi’s turn to give in to the chants of cut SUVs. However, this is not the first time that the brand with the rings has tried the genre. We thus remember the rather successful Q8, and more recently the Q3 Sportback.
The brand is now attacking its electric model, the e-tron. This new e-tron in Sportback version is characterized by a roof that plunges gently towards the rear to end in a spoiler. This small cosmetic surgery improves the coefficient of penetration (Cx of 0.25, against 0.28 for the classic e-tron). On paper, the vehicle thus gains around thirty kilometers of autonomy (446 km announced in the WLTP cycle) compared to certain e-tron models.
Design for energy saving
However, under the hood nothing changes, or almost. Our Sportback 55 uses the mechanics of the classic e-tron, namely two asynchronous electric motors, one per axle, delivering a total power of 300 kW (408 hp) for a torque of 664 Nm and a maximum speed electronically restricted to 200 km / h. The 0 to 100 km / h is reached in 5.7 seconds. Not bad for this big 2.55 ton baby.
To gain these 30 km of autonomy, the Sportback therefore relies on its design, but also on the useful battery capacity of 95 kWh. This goes from 84 to 86.5 kWh simply thanks to software optimization.
In December 2019, we echoed technical updates that save energy. Thus, the power of the cooling system had been revised downwards, saving 10% of real autonomy. Another change is the regenerative system allowing electricity to be recovered via braking, deceleration or freewheel mode. The mapping of the system has been revised so that the intensity of energy recovery accessible in “freewheel” mode via the paddles behind the steering wheel is increased. However, what does not change is the maximum level of deceleration at the level of the brake pedal, at 0.3 G.
Finally, to close the chapter devoted to energy saving, the motor positioned on the front axle has been almost entirely disconnected from the power supply in normal use in order to limit the power consumption of the SUV.
To get an idea of this new autonomy, we were not able to make a distant journey – Covid obliges -, but a trip to the Chevreuse valley with an arrival at the aeronautical museum of Le Bourget after a slight detour via the Vexin; some 190 kilometers, with the national, the city and a hint of expressways at 110 km / h.
As with the rest of the Audi range, the e-tron being no exception, different driving modes (Drive Select) are offered: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual. Choice obviously has an impact on autonomy.
A 2.55 ton star dancer
If the Eco mode was favored for the end of the journey, we mainly juggled between Efficiency and Dynamic modes. The result is quite impressive, with immediate “on / off” style accelerations. It should be added that with a low center of gravity (battery requires), controlled shock absorbers, all associated with the all-wheel drive (Quattro), our beautiful 2.55 ton baby turns into a star dancer.
We loved the energy recovery system from the steering wheel paddles, the intensity of which varies over 3 levels and which allows the “one pedal“like the Nissan Leaf. You only have to release the accelerator pedal and the car brakes on its own. It is also possible to let the system manage itself by relying on the topography ground.
However, difficult to maintain an honorable consumption. Our average consumption was 25 kWh / 100 km, or a remaining range at the destination of 166 km. A quick little calculation shows a total autonomy of 356 kilometers, quite far from the 446 kilometers announced. We are generally in the range of competitors such as the Tesla Model X, Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace.
Although we have not had the opportunity to recharge our Audi e-tron Sportback, be aware that it is compatible with a fast charge (up to 150 kW – DC). Allow 30 minutes to recharge 80% of the battery. Allow 8 h 30 min to recharge to 100% with the 11 kW (AC) charger fitted as standard.
Note that if the main socket (Combo CCS) is on the left, it is possible to have a second socket (Type 2) on the right wing, for 550 €.
Retro-cameras: € 1,850 for an additional 3 km of autonomy
The element that appeals the most (especially the drivers around) are the exterior mirrors … which do not exist since it is the retro-cameras already seen on the classic e-tron.
Invoiced € 1,850, this small technological eccentricity makes it possible to overcome the usual mirrors in favor of cameras (resolution 1280×1080 px) whose images are displayed on 7-inch Oled touch screens (diagonal of 17.78 cm – 1200×800 px) .
These retro-cameras had already thrilled us on the e-tron because of their extremely wide field of view and reduced blind spot.
Another positive point, they work in all situations, whatever the light conditions (tunnels) and weather hazards (rain, snow, dust …). Finally, their presence slightly improves the Cx and therefore the autonomy of the car (+ 3 km).
Since the release of this system, the Honda e has been there with its retro-cameras located this time at each end of the dashboard. No need to look down, just turn your head slightly. And the German car system is suddenly getting a little old …
Another negative point, during parking maneuvers, although the camera is oriented downwards while zooming, it is then easier to use the central screen.
A 100% digital interior
As the saying goes, you don’t change a formula that works. The interior of the Audi e-tron Sportback is no exception and still offers a host of digital displays and touch controls.
The instrument cluster is the famous Virtual Cockpit composed of a TFT Full HD panel with a diagonal of 12.3 inches (31.2 cm – definition of 1920×720 px) whose multiple configurations are carried out from the steering wheel controls . You are free to highlight the speed and load meters surrounding the navigation, or vice versa. We realized on the Audi 3 Sportback plug-in that highlighting navigation was not a panacea and could tire the eyes.
Around the meters, a myriad of information that you can choose to display … or not: time, outside temperature, instantaneous consumption, average speed, time spent on the road, kilometers traveled, musical tracks played or arrival of SMS.
Our Sportback 55 Quattro also had a head-up system (HUD) adjustable in height and light intensity. It can display speed, GPS directions, driving aids and crossed traffic signs. It’s hard to go without once you’ve tasted it.
XL display and haptic controls
The central touch screen is the same as that of the brand’s high-end models, namely an OLED with a diagonal of 10.1 inches (25.6 cm – definition 1540×720 px).
Real control tower, this screen displays a series of interchangeable icons, which is reminiscent of a smartphone screen. These icons provide access to the various vehicle functions: radio, media, telephone, navigation, settings, vehicle, etc. Their handling is simple and easy.
You can also create shortcut keys linked to a favorite radio station, a musical title, a route, a telephone number. They take place on the upper part of the second 8.6-inch (20.6 cm diagonal) touch screen positioned above the automatic transmission. This screen is used for heating and air conditioning settings.
All the keys on these two screens have the particularity of using haptic feedback technology, like the other models of the brand. When you activate one of the icons, you have the impression of pressing a real button. We can also, we can adjust the level of sensation. Far from being a gadget, the haptic feedback allows the driver to keep their eyes on the road and to be confirmed that the button has been pressed.
Finally, the picture would not be complete without a mention to Apple CarPlay (wireless mode) and Android Auto. You can plug your smartphone into one of two USB ports, positioned in the center armrest.
If you are a fan of comfort and technology, then the Sportback has it covered. We are seduced by its “sporty” look (if one can qualify an SUV as sporty) which erases the heavy side felt on the classic e-tron.
However, it will be necessary to accept to do with two constraints. The first is the Ionity charging network in which Audi is a shareholder. Although it currently has 80 fast terminals across France, it is unfortunately not optimal, unlike Tesla’s network of superchargers.
Another constraint, the price. The Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro is a premium SUV with a starting price of € 86,800. Price which can climb up to 120,000 € with all options. Of course, we will always be able to fall back on the Sportback 50 Quattro finish, less powerful (230 kW) and with less autonomy, invoiced from 74,500 €. In both cases, it will be necessary to do without any ecological bonus.