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REVIEW: Audi e-tron Sportback S is an impressive glimpse into the future

Published Jul 12, 2022

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Pretoria - It’s a niche market when it comes to electric cars, especially at the price, and, as I write this, South Africa is on stage six load shedding, read blackouts.

Analysts don’t predict an improvement to the electricity crisis any time soon and to top it all, fuel prices continue to soar monthly, with R30 a litre a very real prospect soon, leaving us between a rock and a hard place.

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This isn’t a political commentary piece but you get my drift, so on to the Audi e-tron Sportback S quattro 370kW. It’s a mouthful, I know, but also an eye-catcher in “myth black” that had many people asking what the car was about.

Well, for a start, the battery capacity is 95kWh which, with normal driving, should give a range of about 340 to 380km but more impressively, it produces 370kW and 973Nm of torque, with a top speed of 210km/h all done without a sound.

Price was also one of the questions often asked and, even at one of the more upmarket malls in Pretoria, there were a few raised eyebrows at the quoted R2 425 000. That’s excluding the R376 600 options fitted to our test car that included panoramic sunroof, Audi phone box with wireless charging, puddle lights, night vision assist, head up display and the black styling package.

There was also a second charging point, an AC on-board charger of up to 22kW and a 22kW “connect” charging system.

Yes, at this stage, pretty much a niche market for the well-heeled. Even so, it is a damn fine-looking car, with only the odd decal giving the fact that it’s an e-tron away. On the face of it, it looks like a regular Audi internal combustion engine vehicle.

The best for me though was the night vision assist which is a feature I haven’t experienced before. It is almost magical.

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Front sensors monitor the road ahead and the beams change constantly, depending on the surrounding conditions, so you might have pencil beams moving up and down the road or within a millisecond on a wide spread across the highway.

The interior is pure luxury with plush soft touch surfaces and large screens dominating the dash including the infotainment system and the digital cockpit which you can set to your liking.

During the time, I tested the Audi e-tron I had a pretty hectic schedule and when I collected it, it had a range of 240km.

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I knew I would have to charge sooner rather than later but it would have to be later because there was a bit of driving to be done.

It was a Thursday and my son’s last performance in the school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, so I collected him to take him to school early before picking up the rest of the clan for the evening’s show.

From the school to my partner’s house to pick her up and then to my parents to see their grandson on the stage in his final year.

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My father, who started his ICE days on the back of my grandfather’s motorbike with Nazis shooting at them over a bridge and later, as a ducktail on a Triumph motorcycle in the ’50s progressing through various Chevs, Fords, Beetles, Peugeots and many more, was blown away by the car and I consider it a privilege for him to have driven in one this late in life.

The sheer quality, comfort and outright blistering take off has him talking about it every time I see him.

Anyway, after the concert the route had to be repeated in reverse and when I parked at home I had 75km range left, not enough to get to school and back the following day.

Fortunately, the cast had been given the day off school so I had to rely on home charging through a normal plug.

If you’re an owner though, Audi will offer R5 000 support to set up a three-phase dedicated home charger which should take about 13 hours to charge from empty.

I don’t have a dedicated charger so it would take just over two days for a full charge. I plugged it in, in hope because, as I write this, we’re on stage six blackouts which means I have 12.5 hours of electricity in a 24-hour cycle.

On Saturday, we were having dinner with friends in Joburg and staying over for the night so I pulled into Irene Mall to use its DC charger at R5.88/kWh. Charging time was just over three-and-a-half hours and I’m assuming I was plugged into the AC charger because an I Pace was parked next to me using the second plug.

There’s only so many shops you can browse in or so many cups of coffee and muffins before you get bored out of your mind and, frankly, annoyed because there’s a lot of things I would rather be doing on a Saturday morning.

And, I suppose, that’s where the paradigm shift comes in that everyone talks about when it comes to EVs. Yes, you have to plan more than with an ICE vehicle, and yes it will take a while for you to get used to it, but still…

If you have the means to set up a home charger and a proper solar solution coupled with an improved charging infrastructure, then the Audi e-tron Sportback S quattro 370kW is a peach because it’s a beautiful thing to drive.

IOL Motoring

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