2019 Audi e-tron SUV

2019 Audi e-tron First Look

The Revolution Will Be Unsurprising

byWill Kaufman, Content Strategist and News Editor September 17th, 2018

Audi has given us our best look yet at the 2019 e-tron, an all-electric SUV that heralds the future of the brand. With rapid charging, a massive battery, and more tech than you can shake a stick at (although less tech than the e-tron will get overseas), this new Audi sounds ultra-futuristic. But, bucking the trend set by competitors, Audi has decided to give the e-tron a familiar face.

Mercedes-Benz with the EQC and Jaguar with the I-Pace have opted for new looks to set their electric products apart. Audi is betting that buyers will gravitate toward the familiar, so the automaker's launching an EV that won't stand out next to a Q3 or a Q5. But that doesn't mean the e-tron isn't packed with new features and ideas.

Familiar, But Not Too Familiar

Indeed, the e-tron is far more than a Q5 with a battery pack. It's nearly 10 inches longer, in fact, with a slightly wider track and a generous 115.1-inch wheelbase. (The Q5 measures 111 inches between the wheels.) Without the need to compromise the e-tron's silhouette to accommodate a traditional powertrain, designers worked on honing the vehicle's overall proportions while keeping it recognizably an SUV. The shape is slippery, too, pairing with tricks such as active shutters to yield a reduced coefficient of drag compared to the Q5.

Inside, the cabin is airier and more open than what you'll find in a typical luxury crossover. There's plenty of exposed space where big lumps of machinery would have to go in a traditional car, giving the e-tron's interior a floating, almost industrial look that makes a much stronger statement than the exterior.

The e-tron's designers also focused on providing SUV-grade versatility. Audi promises the e-tron will comfortably seat five adults, with a more usable center rear seat thanks to the absence of a transmission tunnel. Behind the second row, you'll find 28.5 cubic feet of cargo space, expanding up to 57 cubes with the rear seat folded. That handily beats both the I-Pace and EQC, and it puts the e-tron on par with some conventionally powered small crossovers.

Can't Have It All

In keeping with Audi's latest products, the e-tron will offer the company's dual-touchscreen infotainment system. This pairs a 10.1-inch and an 8.6-inch display to handle all infotainment features and vehicle settings, including climate controls. It makes for a very clean, modern look, and although our experience with this setup has been limited so far, we've found it quite usable. There's also a 4G LTE data connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot, along with navigation and smartphone integration.

What the e-tron won't have, in U.S. guise, are digital side mirrors. Overseas, the e-tron will sport cameras in place of side mirrors, with screens built into the doors. These cameras have a smaller cross section than traditional mirrors, reducing drag and generating less wind noise. Unfortunately, they're not yet legal in the U.S., so we'll be getting regular mirrors. What a drag.

Hard Charging

While we don't have official horsepower numbers yet, Audi says that 60 mph should arrive in 5.5 seconds for the e-tron. That's not shabby, but it is a second slower than the electric Jaguar.

Of course, Audis have always been about more than speed. The company has hung its hat on the Quattro all-wheel-drive system since the system's efficacy was first proved in rally racing. Rather than one motor having its power shuffled among four wheels, the e-tron uses two motors — one for each axle. This allows the vehicle to allocate power where it's needed faster than with any previous Quattro setup.

This won't just provide better traction on pavement; the e-tron will have an off-road mode, too. Ride height will be adjustable to allow more ground clearance. The same system can also lower the car at high speed for better efficiency.

And Fast Charging

We don't have an official range estimate yet, but we do know the e-tron will come with a hefty 95-kWh battery pack. That's more battery than anything this side of a top-tier Tesla. How that will translate in the real world remains to be seen.

Audi says that when plugged into a DC fast charger, the e-tron can be charged up to 80 percent of its total capacity in just 30 minutes. That's 10 minutes faster than it is for the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which actually has a slightly smaller battery pack.

But speedy charging is useless if you can't find a charger. Audi has two main partners in its efforts to keep consumers juiced. For home charging needs, Audi is partnering with Amazon, which will apparently handle the purchase and installation process, making getting a home charger as easy as ordering Tide Pods.

For everywhere else, Audi's main partner will be Electrify America, which promises that a network of chargers will be in place in 40 states and 17 metro areas in 2019. Audi e-tron buyers will receive 1,000 kWh of complimentary charging at Electrify stations. We're interested to see how many free miles that will bring.

Pricing and Availability

The 2019 Audi e-tron will start at $75,795 with destination and handling fees. For that price, you'll get a pretty loaded vehicle, with heated and cooled power front seats, navigation, a Bang & Olufsen stereo system, a surround-view camera, 20-inch wheels, and a suite of active safety features. The $82,795 Prestige trim will add a head-up display, leather upholstery, driver aids, and extra sound deadening among other upgrades.

Deliveries will begin in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019. Only 999 units are slated for the States in 2019, and Audi is already taking reservations.

The Bottom Line

Audi hasn't made the fastest EV, but the e-tron does promise to charge faster than its two main competitors, the I-Pace and the EQC. It also has more cargo space and a more familiar look, along with plenty of fancy cabin tech. Check back with Edmunds for full driving and usability impressions as the e-tron's launch date approaches.

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