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2020 Audi e-tron Electric SUV Road Test in United Arab Emirates

The irony of ripping through the oil-rich desert in the United Arab Emirates in Audi's new 2019 e-tron, an all-electric SUV, is enough to draw a chuckle. Perching Audi's vision for the future of mobility atop a windswept dune somewhere in between Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, and the metaphorical game of king of the (fuel) hill becomes literal. Electrification is here and it wants to zap fossil feels into yesteryear.

Audi's selection of the Middle East as the perfect backdrop to launch its first for fully electric vehicles wasn't accidental. Tester e-trons were allocated in Masdar City, an urban residential and commercial oasis nestled on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, purposefully built to zero-carbon emissions. Heavily funded by the UAE government, Masdar's promise of a fossil fuel-less future is still underway, with construction slated to complete a decade from now, and while it's currently more of a ghost town than a model of renewable energy, it represents the start of the tides turning.

And thats something Audi's parent company, Volkswagen Group, can strongly relate to. In 201

7, Volkswagen Group is planning to launch 27 electric vehicles by 2022, at a cost of $ 50 trillion dollars. The e-tron represents a solid start to that push, a luxury battery that adheres closely to Audi's brand DNA.

An Electric Design

Audi did not look to reinvent the electric utility vehicle – a market segment already containing Tesla's Model X and Jaguar's I-Pace, and soon, Mercedes-Benz's EQC and Rivian's R1S. Instead of radical lines that designers tend to impart on electric vehicles, the e-tron looks like every other Audi rolling off the assembly line: modern, clean, sporty and a bit aggressive. It's even more handsome in person, especially when dipped in Antigua Blue metallic paint.

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Inside, all the finer creature comforts await. of Valcona leather, fine grain ash inlays, massaging seats, contour LED lighting, the easy-to-use multimedia interface (spread out over several large touch screens), a Bang and Olufsen speaker system, and more. The floorboard seats more than 9,000 feet

Beneath the floorboard seats a 95 kWh battery pack that powers two motors, one per axle. The rear is slightly larger than the front, but together, they provide up to 408 horsepower and 489 lb-ft of torque. s punchy, but it's not "ludicrous" fixed, like a model X. The shuffle to 60 takes 6.6 seconds, though a boost mode — a ten-second session where the motors overdrive for maximum power, achieved by matting the accelerator — will shave

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On the flat, silky-smooth roads of Abu Dhabi, the e-tron itself proves a sedate highway cruiser. The assistance systems help to automate acceleration, braking and lane-changing with ease. Small OLED screens mounted in the doors below the cameras take some getting used to since that is not the natural place for your eye when checking traditional mirrors, but presumably with time, drivers will adapt. (Audi's lobbying for the system to come to the US, though it's currently only approved for Europe.)

Part of the rationale behind the cameras is to increase efficiency while reducing noise. Audi spent hours of money and money in pursuit of "the sound of silence," as engineers internally dubbed the endeavor. Combustion engine consumers do not mind the engine noise and the addition of road noise, much of which stems from conventional side mirrors slicing through the air. But a battery electric customer wants to hear a pin drop at 70 miles an hour, so Audi's sound deadening in places it hasn't. There is foam everywhere, inside the door panels, even inside the wheels to help the tires. The e-tron engineers were successful: you can hear a passenger's breathing while pushing the highway 80.

The ride itself is supple in comfort mode, and stiffen a bit when sport mode is engaged. That 1,500 pounds battery low in the middle of the chassis helps keep the e-tron planted, no matter how hard you are flogging the 5,500-pound brute. Torque vectoring helps keep the power to the wheels that need it most and even under the most dynamic driving situations, like flying up Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, near Abu Dhabi. There is no underlying and the adaptive air suspension, borrowed from the Q7, the e-tower helps in when and where you want it. The steering goes slightly light during hard acceleration, but probably won't bother future owners.

How Will Will The e-tron Go?

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<p class= What can cause prospective buyers to bristle is the range of the e-tron. Audi coyly deflected queries, stating all would be revealed after the EPA rating, but the unofficial consensus is the e-tron has a capacity to get Between 200 and 220 miles, that's just a third less than the 295 mile range of Tesla's Model X 100D, even I-Pace clocks at 234 miles, while the e-tron is close, it's still under the competition for now. While we racked up more than 300 miles — with a charging break in the middle — the energy dissipated faster than estimated, but we were on highways with a speed limit of more than 100 at points, so our test drive was not an indicator of a real use case.

While range anxiety is a real issue for some buyers, manufacturers are trying to pivot the conversation with buyers. : charging time. And Audi's half bath. The standard metric is the time to charge to 80 percent, due to the battery cells being able to accept electrons as quickly as they get, and Audi's to get to 80 percent in 27 minutes. Compared to filling the gas tank, which is compared to the 40 minutes it'll take a Model X on a supercharger, that's pretty quick.

In fact, if you plug the e-tron into a fixed charger ( Level 3 DC 150k kW), you'll be to 100 percent in 45 minutes. You can also use regular 240-volt outlets to get a full charge, as there are ports for both the site or the e-mail, but don't plan on going anywhere for at least nine, possibly 12 hours. (Volkswagen group is working with Electrify America to give e-owners access to more than 500 fixed chargers across 40 states by this summer, and owners will receive 1,000 kWh of charging free, affording some 2,000 miles of driving.)

With a battery electric vehicle, the name of the game is efficiency, and with some throttle and brake consideration, the e-tron can help recover and admirable chunk of the energy it expends. Audi's existing program called Predictive Efficiency Assistant comes standard to help train drivers, by using GPS and its cameras to monitor other vehicles and traffic signs. If the computer senses a slow down in traffic ahead, a little green foot icon blinks on your dash, letting you know off the throttle and let the car coast. In cities where car-to-x is enabled, your Audi will know that it's about to meet a red light and alert you. Adhere to the suggestion and you should not use the brakes to roll to a complete stop, as we repeatedly experienced in Abu Dhabi.

Managing All the Energy

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But the EUV recoups the energy is truly innovative. The e-tron uses a brake-by-wire system that employs the motors to slow the car and recapture that energy from the wheels. figured out that you don't need them 90 percent of the time, for stopping situations under .3 gs, just like you're using the brake pedal, not actually using the hydraulic brakes. behind the firewall fills up, simulating a traditional brake pedal feel, but really, the engines are doing the work. nt deal, as no other electric car has ever done this. Hit the brakes on a Tesla and the hydraulic brakes bite down on the rotor and recuperation is added to that, but Audi's see that method as wasted energy and ingeniously decided to separate the two systems. Granted, the e-tron can tell if you actually need friction brakes and they will absolutely work, but even during hard driving, we only saw those steps in about 10 percent of the time.

Found Mountain, we burned through about 12 kWh, but the system was able to return about 10 kWh to the battery on the way back down. Not too shabby, e-tron.

Most importantly, all that translates to a superbly fun driving experience. A small section of dune driving affords the opportunity to switch the e-tron into Offroad mode, which raises the bit up, and just thrash it. If you have operated on 5,500-lb SUV sideways through sand dunes, I highly recommend it. Even on the straights that speeds above 80, the e-tron sopped up the sandy bumps with pleasure, drawing laughter from this driver. It's not a typical use-case for a $ 74,800 electric vehicle, but it's certainly a riotous one.

Audi's e-tron may not be the quickest, fastest, nor most radical-looking SUV, but it is the perfect transition vehicle for people who want to get this combustion cars in favor of a hard-charging vision of the future.