Johannesburg - Audi's e-tron sport utility vehicle has been on sale in Europe for a year already and most recently the company launched the Sportback version of the model.
Said to combine the dynamics we've come to know and appreciate from Ingolstadt's finest-handling cars, with ultra-luxurious high-tech intestines, the e-tron is not your typical SUV.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL
The latest e-tron Sportback's battery pack offers 95kWh of gross energy (86.5 kWh net) and operates at a rated voltage of 396 volts.
The battery pack is fitted as a wide flat block beneath the passenger cell, to which it is bolted at 35 points for maximum rigidity.
Audi says the battery system is exceptionally strong and crash-proof, thanks to a solid protective frame and an aluminum laminate that holds the 36 cell modules. The modules are arranged on two levels, as a long lower “floor” with 31 modules and a short upper floor with five modules. Each module integrates twelve ‘pouch cells’ and the unit's cooling system is located beneath the cell chamber.
The batteries feed two electric motors, one on each axle, which send motivation to all four corners for maximum acceleration during heavy throttle load. In part-throttle applications, the vehicle will decide on which wheels do either the pushin' or the pullin'.
PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMY
Those asynchronous electric motors on each axle are fed with three-phase current by the power electronics. In the range-topping 55 model (there's a 50 model available overseas too), you'll get an output of 265kW of power and 561Nm of torque. Not only are these output figures good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.6 seconds, but it will also keep galloping toward an electronically limited top speed of 200km/h.
Move the gear selector from Drive to Sport and you'll unlock 300kW of grunt for a period of 8 seconds. Do this at standstill and launch the car and you'll accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds - that's as fast as a Honda Civic Type R.
Drive with a light foot though and you'll truly enjoy the e-Tron Sportback's emission-free energy consumption. According to Audi, a full charge of the 95kWh battery will give you a combined cycle range of 446km between trips to the "pumps".
In terms of the pumps, or the electric chargers, in this case, Audi says it will take just 30 minutes to fuel up the e-tron Sportback from empty to 80%-charged using a 150kW DC charger. These charger systems won't be as freely available in South Africa as they will be in Europe, so you'll most likely make use of AC charging at home or the office.
Audi's range of solutions for charging the e-tron Sportback in the garage at home depends on the capacity of your domestic power supply. The standard compact charging system is suitable for a simple 230-volt connection and for a 400-volt three-phase outlet with an output of up to 11 kW. The optional charging system offers smart charging functions, for example, preferred charging at low-cost times.
MORE THAN JUST WATTS
Ultimately, while the key selling point of the e-tron range is the fact that it's electric, one cannot deny that it's a luxury vehicle at its core. You still get amazingly high-levels of comfort and luxury features as standard, and you can personalise your e-tron to your heart's content through Audi's personalisation programme.
If you currently drive a premium, luxury car and you're thinking of upgrading to something new and very different to the internal combustion vehicles you're used to, the Audi e-tron Sportback, like the Jaguar i-Pace that's already sold here, represents the future of fast premium motoring.
While we await the arrival of the Audi e-tron in South Africa within the next 18 months, here's a short clip of Sebastian Dingert, Product manager of the Audi e-tron Sportback, walking us through some of the features of the new face of quattro.