Electric cars still receive a frown. One, for their practicality in the Indian demographic universe, and then for their odd looks.
The latter is more a fall-out of the not-so-charming Mahindra Reva that was the only electric car most of us have identified with for a long time. But then, along comes Audi with its own electric car that doesn’t fail to attract double takes as it silently glides over the highway, all set to inspire a generation of eco-conscious motorists.
This one’s called the Audi e-tron and it’s a rather sharp-looking SUV from the German automakers. Its sporty façade is led by a platinum-grey Singleframe grille, which is flanked by Audi’s standard digital Matrix LED headlights. The handsome ridges and lines on the hood and the orange brake calipers give it a youthful, energetic touch. At the sides, black inlays bookmark the position of the battery, adding to the sporty quotient. The LED tail lamps stretch across the rear in a continuous strip. It’s a great-looking electric car, hands-down among the best SUVs in the electric segment to touch Indian shores.
The interiors aren’t shy of style either. On the front sits the wraparound dash panel with a pair of MMI touch-response displays that light up the driver’s cockpit. Audi’s virtual cockpit never fails to amaze, no matter how often you experience it. The well-appointed interiors pay special attention to comfort, with cozy bucket seats, ambient lighting options, a highly-recommended air quality package that treats your olfactory senses with aromatherapy, and 4-zone automatic air conditioning.
Simply open the Panoramic Sunroof and enjoy the sounds of the forest you’re navigating through, with the engine’s nearly silent hum playing its unintrusive role. The Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system will serve when you want to create a musical ambience, with a 750 Watt output, from 16 loudspeakers.
When Audi promises comfort, they deliver. The Adaptive Air Suspension is remarkably effective, keeping the car stable even around hairpin bends. The perpetual foe of European cars in India happens to be the great Indian Speed-breaker, something that can easily be managed with the Raise function that protects the underbody from scraping. This also helps ensure that the battery isn’t affected by the impact.
The suspension adjusts as per the driver’s ride select options and is dynamic and highly responsive — much like it is in the Q7.
The technology extends to the Matrix Headlamps, which brag about being among India’s first Predictive Cornering lights. The Progressive Steering feature helps handle the e-tron better in spite of its size. The driver is assisted with steering response depending on what speed they are navigating at.
When it comes to electric vehicles, there’s always the same set of questions — range, charging facilities, battery life, and ‘is it a good decision’. We’ll get to the last part later, but speaking about the battery, the e-tron is powered by a 95kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers two electric motors at both axles. It produces an impressive 402bhp and 664Nm of torque. It is eerily quiet, yet fun to drive. The Sport Mode is the most exciting one, with the e-tron gaining the ability to go from 0-100 kmph in just 5.7 seconds — a spec that would surprise you once you realise that the SUV weighs a massive 2.5 tonnes. The 7 driving modes spoil you entirely.
As for the range, the e-tron can easily pull off a minimum sprint of 350 km and a maximum of 450 km on a single full charge. Charging is convenient as all you need is a 22kW home charger that can juice the battery up to 80 per cent in under five hours, a task that can be accomplished in about two hours, if you choose a public charger.
The Audi e-tron does look fabulous, but it is so incredibly practical that one would trade the serious cash for this one. It’s got most of the goodies that the Q7 brings with it and an eco-conscious soul thrown into the mix.
Power: 402bhp/561nm of torque, AWD
Top speed: 199kmph
Battery: Lithium Ion/95KwH
Range: 440 km (claimed)
0-100kmph: 6.6 seconds
Price: Rs1.1 crore (ex-showroom)