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It’s no big secret that internal combustion engines are on their way out and electric vehicles are leading the charge to a more sustainable future. Tesla really showed the world that EVs don’t need to be compromises, and every major manufacturer in the world is either working on or has launched their first proper EV. There’s a lot of questions with respect to the feasibility of EVs in India, especially with respect to the infrastructure, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from bringing their products here. Hyundai is bringing the Kona EV, Jaguar will be launching the I-Pace and Audi has confirmed that it will bring the e-tron to India by the end of this year, or the start of the next year.
First let’s talk about the way it looks. The e-tron is distinctly Audi. The first big change you will notice up front is the grille. The grille retains the traditional octagonal shape with vertical struts but the entire piece is now finished in platinum grey, a sign that this is an EV and will possibly be a styling element that sets apart conventional Audis from Evs in the future. Lights are a huge part of Audi’s signature and the headlamps on the e-tron get four horizontal struts under the lamps, another element unique to the e-tron. The bonnet has got a power-dome, though I don’t know why because there’s nothing under it making any power.
Look at it from the side, and it is obviously very SUV. At 4.9m long, it is a little shorter than a Q7. The keen eye will notice this, the lack of wing mirrors, replaced by cameras. More on this later, though. From the rear, the e-tron gets the lightbar that is seen other Audis like the A8. Audi has obviously tried to make it look dynamic, with a long spoiler and raked out D-pillar. Obviously, there’s no exhaust tips but instead they’ve got some texture on to the bumpers.
Aerodynamics is given huge importance, as it can significantly hamper the range of an EV. The wing mirrors, for example, are one way in which drag is reduced. The suspension lowers itself at high speeds. The underbody is completely lined. It gets side air curtains to reduce turbulence in the wheel arches. The wheels themselves are more aerodynamic than conventional ones. Louvers in the front grille operate a flap to allow cooling only when needed.
The e-tron has got a battery between the axles on the floor of the car, and two motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear. So yes, it does have all-wheel drive and it delivers torque with a rear-bias. The battery stores 95kWh, allowing the e-tron 400km of range on the WLTP cycle, and performance isn’t bad too. It makes 265kW (that’s around 355bhp) and 561Nm, allowing it to accelerate to a ton in 6.6 seconds. You can get more power if you want – slot it in to S and floor it – and the e-tron will make an additional 45kW (60bhp) and 103Nm available for around 8 seconds.
The e-tron gets air suspension. Ride height is lowered at high speed by 26mm to make it more aerodynamic, while it can be raised on off-road mode by 35mm, and then an additional 15mm in Lift mode. Audi claim a near 50:50 weight balance and the batteries and motors are mounted low down for better dynamics.
The interiors are finished in good materials. You get virtual cockpit as your information cluster, and two screens on the centre control – one for the infotainment system and one for the climate control. There’s a traditional boot, but you’ve also got a small storage compartment in the nose, owing to a lack of an engine. Quality of materials are top notch and there’s little to complain about.
The e-tron will be brought to India as a CBU, under the new government scheme that allows for 2500 units of the car to be imported without the need for homologation. The exact spec of the car hasn’t been confirmed yet. For example – the virtual mirrors may be offered as an option, as will the suite of active safety features. However, we will know the exact spec only later.
The Hyundai Kona launching next week is the first of many modern, uncompromising EVs we’re going to be seeing. They’re going to come in at a variety of price ranges, but one thing is certain. This is the future. Whether they’re fun, we will have to wait and watch. But as a means to get from one place to another, they do their task as well as the cars we know and love.