Cars

2021 Audi e-tron – Quick Take

2021 Audi e-tron, fully electric AWD SUV. A luxurious, smooth, and quiet all-electric SUV that impresses even traditionalists

I recently dropped off my ’18 Audi A4 for it’s annual winter tire swap, and this 2021 Audi e-tron fully electric SUV was provided as a ‘loaner’ for the day.

I hate to say this, but I was impressed.

As a (mildly) ‘traditional’ car guy, I LIKE raucous gasoline engines. The howl of high performance engines like those in a flat-six Porsche, a flat-plane crank Shelby GT350 V8, or a V-twin Ducati motorcycle is music to my ears.

But I’m also drawn to new technology, and the 2021 Audi e-tron SUV has new tech by the bucket loads.

Ingrid and I got to spend the day running errands in the 2021 e-tron courtesy vehicle from Southgate Audi, and I was mightily impressed.

The e-tron is impressively SILENT in city driving. I noticed a barely perceptible whine from the twin electric motors when braking to a stop. And the Audi’s acceleration is satisfyingly robust. The claimed 355 horsepower (402 hp in boost mode) provides sufficient thrust to push one’s back firmly into the seatback and trigger the inevitable, “You don’t have to do that” advisory from Ingrid.

The e-tron’s interior will be instantly familiar to Audi owners. Most of the steering wheel controls are similar to our ’18 A4’s, and like all Audis, the cabin is best described as spacious and Teutonically modern. It’s visually clean, uncluttered and more pleasing to the eye than many recent offerings from BMW and Mercedes.

On the highway, the cabin is absent of wind noise, but the tires do generate a low level thrum, noticeable only because the rest of the cabin is so quiet. Ingrid commented that our A4 sedan seems slightly quieter than the e-tron on the thumpy Anthony Henday pavement. (But the A4 is an exceptionally quiet car. Car and Driver magazine stated in a 2017 review the A4 registered lower dBs than Audi’s own luxury flagship A8.)

The e-tron has adjustable suspension. I set the suspension in “Comfort” and SUV delivers a cushy, yet typically Germanic controlled ride. And for such a large vehicle (a hefty 2595 kg), it handles remarkably well, with little body roll in cornering. But push the big Audi through corners and the vehicle’s mass becomes noticeable.

2021 Audi e-tron

Our test e-tron was a base model, and was missing a few features we’ve come to appreciate that our A4 is equipped with (Adaptive Cruise Control and Speed Sign Recognition, both available as options on the e-tron.) I also noted the e-tron’s base infotainment system did not match the very good sound quality of the Bang and Olufsen audio system in our A4,

2021 Audi e-tron interior
Exceptional displays. Shown – navigation (upper), HVAC (lower)
2021 Audi e-tron – capacious cargo hold with an expansive, flat load floor
2021 Audi e-tron – under the hood

Final thoughts

I’ve never been much of a hybrid or electric car ‘fan’, but the 2021 Audi e-tron certainly opened my eyes, which is undoubtedly the wave of the future.

The 2021 Audi e-tron is powerful, quiet and luxurious. For those who suffer from the dreaded ‘range anxiety’, we picked up the e-tron (with less than a full charge on the batteries), and the range still showed a very acceptable 300 km. (Audi claims a longer range on a full charge.) For many drivers, this is more than plenty of range for the 90-percent of our trips that are in the city.

And I have to admit, the idea of going all-electric is certainly appealing not only in terms of giving one the feel-good sense by lowering one’s environmental impact, but also giving one a feeling of independence by being able to plug in the vehicle at home to charge it and cutting one’s ties to the petroleum companies. And the more gasoline costs rise, the more attractive electric vehicles like the Audi e-tron will become.

2021 Audi e-tron 55 Technik quattro. Base price: $93,250. Price as tested: $100,080.25 (includes Freight & PDI and fees.)

The 2021 Audi e-tron is available now for test driving. In Edmonton, contact Southgate Audi, 780-462-AUDI.

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