New Audi e-tron Sportback 2020 review
The new Audi e-tron Sportback is an accomplished electric car, but it costs nearly £4k more than the standard e-tron
The Audi e-tron Sportback is not a car that anyone asked for. It has no direct competition, but having said that, as a relaxing, comfortable and premium electric SUV, it hits all the right notes. Whether it’s worth the near-£4,000 premium over a regular e-tron will be down to personal preference on the new look.
If you thought coupe SUVs were already niche in themselves, Audi has gone one step further with the e-tron Sportback. This is the first fully electric coupe SUV to hit the market and it’s priced from £79,900, so you’re paying close to £4,000 premium over the standard Audi e-tron.
The Sportback line-up mirrors that of the regular e-tron so there are two versions available, starting with the 50 quattro, which has a 71kWh battery, 217-mile range and develops 309bhp. The more potent 55 quattro, which we’re driving here, uses a 95kWh battery for a 278-mile range, and develops a more eye-catching 404bhp.
One thing that doesn’t change, regardless of the version, is the compromise you have to make with the Sportback. It’s 4.9 metres long, like the regular model, but there is around 20mm less headroom in the back, along with an overall luggage capacity that has dropped by 45 litres because of the sloping roofline.
The Sportback swallows a total of 615 litres, the e-tron 660 litres. With the rear seat folded down, the Sportback is slightly behind at 1,655 to 1,725 litres. Is it a price worth paying? To our eyes it's certainly one of the better-executed coupe SUVs, with a well-proportioned, sporty silhouette.
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On the move, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that the Sportback behaves much like its bigger brother in every way, despite the new look. The first thing that strikes you is just how calm and quiet the e-tron Sportback is at speed The initial surge is acceleration is always quite surprising and entertaining but right after the 5.7-second sprint from 0-62mph, there’s near silence. Nothing rattles, shakes or booms.
The steering is smooth and consistent with its weighting, which means the car feels stable and secure on the move. Seven driving profiles are available via Audi’s Dynamic Select button, from Eco to Dynamic. But rarely does the ride become firm; there’s alway a degree of suppleness to the ride quality. On the motorway, the e-tron’s air suspension can even drop the ride height by 80mm to help increase range, too.
But this is an extremely heavy car, at 2,480kg. The battery alone weighs up to 700kg, so rather than trying to inject the e-tron with any sort of sporting dynamics, Audi has focused on making it refined and soothing to drive rather than truly agile and engaging. In our view, it is the best strategy it could have taken.
Passengers in the back are a little shortchanged, however. The 20mm lower roofline may not sound like a lot but it is noticeable; those approaching 6ft will feel their heads beginning to gently brush the roof lining. But overall, there is still enough knee and shoulder room to fit three abreast.
Up front, there is on change over the standard e-tron. That’s to say there’s a feast of digital displays that are used to operate all of the car functions; the lower set-up gives access to the climate controls, while the upper section is used for navigation and media. As we’ve come to expect from Audi’s latest cabins, everything is beautifully built and ensures long drives don’t become a chore.
Speaking of long drives, they are reasonably feasible, thanks to the e-tron’s rapid-charging capability. Hooked up to an ultra-rapid 150kW charger, the battery can be topped up from 10-80 per cent in 30 minutes. The only trouble is finding one; currently there are fewer than 900 publicly available in the UK, compared with around 27,000 slow, fast and rapid chargers.
|Model:||Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro|
|Engine:||95kWh battery, two electric motors|
|Transmission:||Single speed auto, four wheel drive|