2019 Audi e-tron initial expostulate review: Drifting an EV SUV

Technically speaking, my initial expostulate of a all-new, entirely electric 2019 Audi e-tron never saw a cutting-edge electronically tranquil all-wheel expostulate complement hold a open highway in Namibia, South Africa. The all-electric SUV isn’t due to reach US roads until subsequent year, yet when Audi asked us if we wanted to put a new EV quattro complement by a paces good in advance, we didn’t spin a automaker down. Turns out, while a new e-tron competence not utterly be prepared for release, that doesn’t meant it’s not adult for some severely stupid drifting.

With open pavement off a menu, we instead headed to a center of a dried around a tiny brush plane, afterwards from there to a salt beds where a temporary “ice track” had been forged out. While we’ve gifted a e-tron’s singular recuperation record before, that was usually from a newcomer seat. This would be a initial time Audi authorised us to take a circle ourselves.

It shows a spin of certainty we competence not pattern for what will be Audi’s initial all-electric SUV: this was to be no tip-toeing around a peaceful march with concerned engineers pleading for me to be some-more cautious. Then again, a 2019 e-tron comes on a heels of the 2019 Q8, Audi’s flagship SUV, that like usually about all nearing from Ingolstadt newly was bristling with technology. The EV usually cranks that adult further.

Almost a same distance as a Tesla Model X, yet a small wider and with a some-more assertive stance, a e-tron is quite a five-seater. That means, with a identical wheelbase to a Tesla, you’re looking during a whole lot of cabin space for both people and their luggage. Inside a case you’ll find room for 23.3 cubic feet of cargo. During a safari drive, that we would positively arrange as a light off-road pulling experience, a dual rear-seat passengers had no complaints.

Audi powers a e-tron with a span of asynchronous motors, a smaller one up-front and a incomparable chronicle in a back, with an initial appetite separate of 45-percent front to 55-percent rear. Don’t pattern that ratio to stay constant, though, even for a minute. In bland pulling conditions we can pattern a bulk of a appetite to come from a rear: that, Audi says, should assistance maximize battery power. Switch to Sport mode and both motors work together to furnish a increased outlay of 355 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque. That’s adequate for 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.

I didn’t pattern Audi to inspire me to exam that out, yet we was wrong. The lane setup consisted of a prolonged true for acceleration testing, a deposit section, a slalom for performance, and afterwards finally a doing test. If I’m being honest, we drifted a e-tron anywhere we could, on any spin where it was even remotely possible.

Hitting a prolonged stretch, after flapping around a parsimonious left-hander, we was means to pound a accelerator and flog boost mode into action, quick removing a automobile behind adult to 70 mph. It’s eerily exhilarating, since a e-tron comes yet a engine scream you’d typically pattern from opening driving. When boost mode kicks in, banishment indeed on 0 cylinders, we usually get a clarity of coercion to rush towards a many sparkling partial of a track: a parsimonious – yet just-wide-enough – hairpin left palm turn. But before we get to that, let’s quick go underneath a piece steel to see usually what a dual motors are doing during this impulse in time.

The front electric engine is mounted together to a front axle, and can grasp a rise outlay of 125 kW or 168 horsepower, and 182.2 lb-ft of torque. Its reflection in a behind is rated during 140 kW or 188 horsepower, and 231 lb-ft of torque. Two-stage heavenly gearboxes – with a singular rigging operation – lane a appetite to a pulling axles.

Each engine is versed with a possess appetite wiring module, that works in and with a expostulate control territory to routine a sensor information entrance from a accelerator pedal, a new brakes, and a electric all-wheel expostulate system. It’s a latter that was giving me that laterally entertainment, and yet Audi isn’t accurately new to quattro cars, how this sold one works is really different.

Like, say, a automatic quattro complement in a Q8, a thought is straightforward: guard what’s function during a front and behind wheels, and feed appetite to whichever requires it, or has a many traction, as quick as possible. Where a Q8’s quattro relies on a automatic tie between a front and behind axles, however, a e-tron does a balancing act electronically.

As we pronounced before, a e-tron will generally use a behind engine in normal or composed driving. Torque is so inequitable toward a behind axle, giving a SUV a arrange of force and altogether pulling dynamics of a rear-wheel expostulate car. Should some-more appetite be required, or if a pulling conditions direct some-more hold adult front, a complement can move in appetite to a front spindle as well. But there’s some-more to this complement than usually reacting to circle slip.

It can envision if a e-tron will trip as we conflict a corner, for instance, or if you’re approaching to understeer or oversteer. When this happens, a quattro drivetrain will take usually 30 milliseconds to react, many times faster than a automatic drivetrain would require. It’s quite conspicuous when any of a wheels are exclusively delivering torque control during entrance and exit during aloft speeds by a doing sections of a track. Think surgical knife-sharp reactions, as a executive cessation control territory predicts circle trip 50 times faster than a automatic chronicle would take, and afterwards automatically brakes a inside wheels in corners so as to pull torque to a outward and tie adult a turn.

With expanded salt beds to play with, Audi speedy me to not usually put all a expostulate modes by their paces, yet try a e-tron out for distance with ESC on, ESC Sport, ESC Off with DriveSelect on auto, and afterwards branch off ESC altogether. That means you’re fundamentally on your own.

It also means we can expostulate a e-tron like a lunatic, that we did, yet meditative about what drivetrain pattern is compulsory for a sold road. The complement works seamlessly in a background, and overtly we couldn’t feel it during work during all. It competence be electronic, yet there was zero of a clarity of computerized retirement that we competence expect.

Had we been on unchanging roads, we consider that would be my pivotal takeaway: regardless of that expostulate mode we switch to, you’re going to have a ton of fun pulling a e-tron. Since we was mostly roving laterally accompanied by outrageous plumes of dust, though, my courtesy was elsewhere. There, my large fulfilment was usually how many trip we get between a ESC being off and on during aloft speeds, such as when we was pulling by a parsimonious doing and opening territory of a track. The hairpin flapping territory could be tackled either ESC was enabled or not, yet we get some-more control with it switched off. That means a wider radius of deposit and during a many aloft speed.

SUVs aren’t typically famous for being sports cars, yet a e-tron never felt reduction than centered. That multiple of immediate torque and crafty quattro indicating it in a many effective instruction left me with an accurate clarity of what a front and behind ends were doing during all times, adult until a impulse a automobile straightened up.

The tech doesn’t stop there. Audi given a 2019 e-tron with a five-link front and behind atmosphere cessation complement as standard, and so not usually does fiddling with a expostulate name complement change a expostulate and steering settings, yet a function of a adaptive cessation too. Unusually, a e-tron gets pneumatic springs that adjust divided to fit a prevalent highway conditions, tweaking a application and miscarry on all 4 wheels invariably as we drive.

Air cessation also means a ability to adjust a float height, something that comes in generally useful for off-road driving. In off-road mode, a cessation will lift a e-tron to boost a belligerent clearway by 35 millimeters or 1.4inches. Select “lift” mode and a cessation cranks adult another 0.6 inches. Back on paved roads, a cessation will automatically revoke a e-tron by as many as 26 millimeters or 1.0 in. from a customary height, to revoke breeze insurgency and urge aerodynamics.

I had a possibility to see a lift mode in movement a following day, holding a e-tron off on a “safari” designed to rather impersonate what folks competence knowledge should they take it off-grid to a cabin in a woods. Whether you’re on or off a road, with an spindle bucket placement of 50:50, and a additional 45-percent torsional acerbity compared to required SUV, I’m flattering assured that a e-tron is prepared to take on anything an owners competence pretty be approaching to chuck during it.

Off-grid does advise roaming over a e-tron’s fuel of choice, yet with a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery we should have adequate to leave a highway behind. Mounted in a floor, between a axles for best weight distribution, a battery is good for around 248 miles on a full charge, on a European exam cycle during least.

Helping strike that series is a fiendishly crafty appetite recuperation system. Lift off a accelerator and, like in all EVs, a e-tron uses a electric motors as generators to modify kinetic appetite behind into appetite for a batteries. What’s some-more engaging is how Audi uses braking. Hit a stop pedal, and a e-tron uses an all-new electrohydraulic actuator to mix regenerative braking with a small submit from a normal front brakes to maximize how many electricity we can recover.

90-percent of a time, Audi tells me, a electric motors alone can stop a e-tron amply yet requiring a normal brakes. Indeed, negligence from 60 mph, a complement can recuperate a limit of 220 kW, that is honestly startling in a prolongation EV segment. As you’d hope, it’s all still invisible to a driver: there’s no change in pedal feel. Where we see a difference, in fact, is in a range. Audi says a complement is obliged for as many as 30-percent of a 248 miles a e-tron can deliver.

At a finish of a day, Audi isn’t billing a e-tron as a sports automobile by any means, yet it substantially could do. The “Sport” in SUV here isn’t usually marketing: a multiple of quattro, electric drive, and effective brakes were some-more than sufficient for rebellious a severe march Audi had developed, and leave me with small doubt that a e-tron is adult to doing what some-more required roads competence chuck during it.

When Audi offering a possibility on a same lane yet during night, with zero yet a headlamps of a EV to beam me around, it’s covenant to a car’s doing and electronic systems that even with a ESC switched off we had no problems removing around during tighten to my speeds during a day. we shot a above video above with a night-vision camera, incidentally – in reality, prominence was a whole lot worse!

There’s copiousness some-more to speak about a 2019 e-tron. we walked divided tender by how still a cabin is, not to discuss a interior design, technology, and fit finish, and I’ll go into some-more fact there in a after article. For now, though, if there’s one thing we can be positively certain of, it’s this: if electric cars had a repute of being quick in a true line yet complicated in a corners, Audi has put that to rest, and decisively. Bravo, e-tron, bravo.

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