Audi e-tron 50 Advanced review: e-tron to the 'Tron
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2020 Audi e-tron 50 Advanced quattro
- Luxury SUV motoring
- Quiet and refined
- Solid battery range
- Still road/wind noise at speed
- Mild range anxiety
- Slower max charge rate than 55 model
From Auckland, an Audi e-tron to Hamilton, aka the ‘Tron, is an easy 120km drive, even for almost any EV made in the last five years. With my own drive to and from the DRIVEN office just short of 135km, the round trip of 270km is barely a second-thought for a fully charged Audi e-tron 55 quattro.
We first drove the e-tron 55 in Queenstown in August last year, towed 1.6 tonne trailers, and generally found its performance (0-100 in 5.7 secs) and range (300-400km real world) quite impressive, as it should be for a $150,500 luxury SUV; it offers plenty of margin for “real world” use, without second-thought for using electric options like radio, headlights, wipers, heated seats and AC.
We had a local Auckland drive a month later and discovered the main issue with EV ownership is one of charging: less about locations, more about speed; and in August, NZ’s first hypercharger opened, along with the massive network of charging stations across the country. NZ is already quite EV-friendly, and way ahead of Australia.
Now, Audi has launched the e-tron 50. Same SUV, slightly smaller battery and a cheaper entry price: $119,990, as a special price for the first 25 sold.
The most important number is range, and at 328km, it’s designed for those city-dwellers who travel little more than, typically, 50km per day. That’s a working week ticked off, with km to spare.
The new 50 is also a few tenths slower (0-100km/h in 7.0sec vs 6.6 sec), though we actually tested the 50 at a matching 6.6 seconds, so it’s quicker than the claim. The new 50 has 14 per cent less power (230kW versus 265kW), four-per cent less torque (540Nm versus 561Nm) and charges eight-per cent slower (120kW versus 150kW), though that will only matter on those public chargers with the capacity.
And of course there’s the price difference, which saves $30k. All that somewhat underlines that on paper, there isn’t a lot to lose by buying the new 50… depending on its use.
Putting that use to an extreme test, we set out to push it beyond the practical, and see if the new e-tron could do the ‘Tron: our DRIVEN office in Auckland CBD, to my home in Hamilton, and back again, a round trip of 270km.
Of course we should tick off the driving component, and the 50 quattro is just as loaded with smooth, effortless acceleration, packed in a luxurious SUV with all the leather and tech and comfort expected of an SUV like this.
We picked up the Audi from Auckland HQ, fully charged, showing a range of 258km (theoretically 12km short of my round trip). Reaching Bombay at 79 per cent battery and 179km range remaining, we stopped off at the new ChargeNet Hypercharger, for a quick safe-to-be-sure boost. After 15 mins, and a little over $5, the charge was back up to 94 per cent, and the range up to 191km - for the 223km remaining in the round trip. Maybe the maths won’t work out…?
With the AC and fans off and only the radio running, by the time the Audi rolls into home, the range has dropped to 158km. At 6pm, the Audi’s home socket charger was pulled out and plugging in… 12 hours later, at 6am – charging up to 11kW - it had added 29km to the range: basically 12 hours for 30km, also reinforcing the notion that home 32-amp Wallbox-style EV chargers are basically a must-have with an EV car, to effectively double the charging capacity. Though we later discovered it was on a default 50 per cent charging setting.
So the real test would be back in the morning, and with 2 degrees outside, and 187km range, both the driver’s seat heating and the AC heater were used to warm the cabin, which immediately took 10km off the range. The 50 quattro settles into a morning drive, using radar cruise control on a GPS 100km/h, and hits typical Auckland slow-n-go traffic, pulling into the DRIVEN office with 47km range remaining: using 140km of power to drive the 135km, proving that the predicted range is quite accurate.
Back on a public fast charger 500m from work, and re-armed with 241km, day two proves a little easier. Starting with 180km, and a 135km drive, it arrives in Auckland with 21km to spare, therefore using 160km of battery, showing just 7 per cent. So while the e-tron 50 is designed for shorter suburban drives, it’s good to know that, thanks to chargers dotted along the way, even big drives are fine with the smallest version of the Audi EV SUV.
The lesson learnt? That the Audi e-tron is an SUV for the future, available now. The new “short range” 50 was never designed to do the Auckland to Hamilton drive every day, but even with a real world range of 260km, provided there’s a fast charger either at home or close to work, EV motoring is starting to become a feasible, practical way of the future of motoring.
AUDI E-TRON 50 ADVANCED QUATTRO