AUDI e-tron SPORTBACK 55 quattro: relax with the sound of silence

ELECTRIC cars have a reputation for being quiet – but Audi’s e-tron Sportback takes it to almost funereal levels.

In a good way, of course. You are so well cocooned in the vast cockpit that the only sound you might pick up is the faint whine from the powerful electric motor working away somewhere underneath.

The dumbing down of road noise and resistance to wind buffeting are particularly good and that near-silent operation of the motors and power electrics system is really well isolated from the cabin.

That says a lot about the build quality – something that Audi has majored on over the years – but the refinement in this model is quite exceptional.

Gone is the standard car’s bulky posterior, and it now has a coupé-like silhouette and a tailgate that gives the Sportback a far more elegant appearance. It means headroom in the rear is compromised a bit by that plunging roofline but it’s by no means cramped.

It sports more aggressively styled bumpers, digital matrix LED headlights and larger 21inch wheels.

A car that weighs almost two and a half tonnes needs a lot of energy to get it rolling and the e-tron Sportback has plenty of that.

The drivetrain uses two asynchronous electric motors, one up front that produces peaks of 181bhp and 182lb/ft of torque, and a second at the rear giving 221bhp and 232lb/ft.

There’s a maximum system output of 402bhp and 490lb/ft for limited periods of up to eight seconds in Boost mode, which you can activate by selecting S on the gear selector.

Acceleration therefore is strong as you’d expect from instant electric power, and once you’ve built up momentum, rolling acceleration is quite sharp.

In D, the combined output of the motors is reduced to a lesser but still impressive 355bhp and 414lb/ft to help increase efficiency and extend the range between charges.

Power goes to all four wheels via a single-speed gearbox attached to each motor and linked via a central power electrics system.

When braking, the SUV recuperates up to 30 per cent of its total 261 mile range through regeneration.

Most of the Sportback’s weight is low down and it has a comparatively low ride height by SUV standards, so that low centre of gravity gives it reasonably assured handling for such a sizeable chunk of machinery. Firm underpinnings and the standard air suspension keep the body movement under control.

There’s no denying it’s a big car to haul around, but once you’re ‘au fait’ with its dimensions you can safely kick on, though narrow country lanes demand extra concentration.

The dashboard, controls and trim materials are all top quality premium in nature, very tactile with reassuring clicks from any  buttons you press. The front seats are firm, comfortable and supportive, and adjustable to fit anyone from the vertically challenged to those of us with long inside leg measurements.

Infotainment and communication are Audi bywords, witnessed by the large central screen with its Google maps sat nav giving you a true overhead picture of your route and surroundings, and digital instrumentation. Smart just doesn’t do it justice.

A technological tour de force.


Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro S line

Price: £79,960 (£84,070 as tested)
Engine: twin asynchronous electric motors 95kWh lithium ion battery
Power: 402bhp
Torque:490 lb/ft
Transmission: single speed direct drive
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Range: 261 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km

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