Taking the all-electric Audi e-tron for a test drive

Audi has unveiled the prototype for its first all-electric car, with extra long range and a short charging time.

Published 24 Aug, 2018 11:03am

Audi has unveiled the prototype for its first all-electric car. The e-tron boasts an extra long range of some 400 kms, coupled with an extra short charging time.

The developers made the operations similar to Audi’s other high end models, so drivers switching from an A6 or A7 to an e-tron would feel at home.

Whats new are the indicators specific to electric drive, like a special menu to show battery level and set the maximum charge and charging timer so the car will be charged and air conditioned when the driver wants to go.

The digital speedometer and the two big touch screens in the middle give the e-tron’s interior a rather futuristic look.

The red and blue LED inlays in the dashboard, the doors and centre console are supposed to be eye catchers, although some might see them more as a gimmick.

What’s definitely striking are the LEDs on the seat buckles in back.

When drivers switch from a conventional to an electric car, they have to get a feeling for having a range. Even if its over 400 kms, its still possible to get into situations where the charge runs out. This is what the range monitor is for, that main menu’s vehicle indicators show the current range and range potential.

The range can be extended, for example, by shutting off the air conditioning and the SAT NAV actually takes the e-trons needs into consideration.

The SAT NAV is optimised for the e-tron. If the route exceeds the car’s range, for instance from Germany to Stockholm, the system automatically displays it with all the charging stops, including amenities like restaurants, parks and playgrounds and it considers how much time you are likely to spend there. So drivers can plan where they’ll be and for how long.

Audi’s engineers have integrated virtual mirrors, video image displays just above the door handles for the e-tron production model. It’s an Audi world premiere. They’re controlled much like a multimedia system.

The virtual mirrors are easy to work. The multimedia interface is a touch screen, so this one is too. The mirror has a proximity sensor, so a wave of the hand will reveal the controls. Moving your hand in the desired direction will adjust the virtual mirror. Take your hand back and the buttons disappear to be replaced with the full image.

The virtual mirror’s image has to be absolutely dependable, that’s essential for safe driving.

Rupert points out the mirrors’ self cleaning function, explaining that the fins on the outside are aerodynamically optimised, so dirt won’t easily collect on the glass.

If it does, for example in winter, if dirt splatters the mirror when it’s snowing, the protective glass heats up and tries to clean it off automatically. If its water based, it will run off but if the dirt is stubborn, the driver gets a warning to wipe down the mirror by hand.

The new virtual mirror technology is finally ready for production but otherwise, the e-tron will look and feel much like previous Audi models.

The developers didn’t want to make the e-tron something it’s not meant to be nor set it apart from other already familiar cars. It’s meant to be practical for daily driving. They didn’t want to win people over to electric cars with flashy designs or overly sophisticated controls. They wanted to produce a very normal car that offers the advantages of electric drive.

Audi’s new e-tron will be hitting showroom floors this August, 2018.

This content has been published in partnership with Deutsche Welle (DW).