Audi e-tron

Bu Jonathan Kersting, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Just as we were winding down RoadTrip 2.0 and coming off of our EV high, Audi’s new e-tron hit the streets of Pittsburgh.

Excited to see Audi’s latest push into the EV market, I wanted to get behind the wheel and see how it sizes up. Cochran Audi in the Strip District gave us the keys and we went for a spin!

Before I jump into the driving experience, let’s get some of the technical details out of the way.

The e-tron has a range of 204 miles. And with a 150 kW DC charger, you can add 54 miles of range with a 10-minute charge. Not too shabby considering Greencarreport.com says 98 percent of single-trip journeys are less than 50 miles. Audi is part of Electrify America, a nationwide network of 16,000-plus charging stations, and it gives e-tron owners 1,000 kWh of fast charging within the first four years of ownership. On the performance side, the e-tron will do 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and it can tow 4,000 pounds.

At first glance, the e-tron looks like its sibling Q5 minus the tail pipes. The e-tron embraces full Audi DNA across the board from luxury, fit-and-finish, performance and mind-blowing technology. At first, you’re a bit overwhelmed with all of the features like Virtual Cockpit, MMI touch response system and parking assists. Yes, there is a 3D parking assistant to ensure that you don’t curb the gem-like wheels!

The touchscreen is haptic and provides a slight reassuring click that you’re selecting the right option, function or mode. The real joy of the e-tron is getting it on the road. It is whisper-quiet – just the barely audible sound of the electric motor upon deceleration.

Driving through typical congested East End traffic, I quickly forgot that the e-tron is an EV. Just felt like driving a high-end luxury SUV. The e-tron handles more like a car than an SUV, though.

This can be attributed to its low-positioned battery and dual motors on each axle. Couple that with a five-mode air suspension and the e-tron can tackle all types of terrain. Especially since the e-tron’s DNA includes Audi’s world-famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Fear no winter or rutted road with the e-tron. I kept the e-tron in “Dynamic” mode to lower the suspension, and it carved corners as if uneven Pittsburgh pavement became a set of rails.

Surrounded by luxury and technology as only Audi can, there is very little to complain about with the e-tron. I’d be curious to see the actual battery range with a full-day test drive as I did with the Model S on RoadTrip 2.0. Maybe a RoadTrip 3.0 is in order?

The e-tron has a starting price of $74,800. There are tax credits and incentives to bring the price down. Check out www.audiusa.com/models/audi-e-tron for more details.