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Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Audi’s e-tron SUV crossover had a makeover not that long ago – but it now has more competition than ever. So is it the class leader, or are the likes of Tesla bolting ahead?

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )
By Tim Barnes-Clay
Dec 08, 2021
More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a Audi e-tron brochure
Request a Audi e-tron test drive
Pros:
  • Very luxurious interior
  • Low running costs
  • Quiet and comfortable
Cons:
  • Limited powertrain compared to rivals
  • Rivals are more fun to drive
  • Lack of physical buttons and switches
Regit rating:
“ 7 / 10 ”
Starting price:
£68,825 as tested

Introduction

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

As the name suggests, Audi’s e-tron is an all-electric car. It's a mid-size SUV crossover that sits between the Q5 and the Q7 in the range.

Perplexingly, this isn’t a Q6 e-tron, though – that's a separate car that will arrive in 2022. So, it will be an interesting comparison – and, although other Audis (notably the Q4) have e-tron in their names, this doesn't have a Q-number at all. So, it's just the e-tron. And not to be confused with the e-tron GT, either, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

If the name is head-scratching, the figures don’t look especially brilliant either. Range and performance fall behind its rivals. And, taken in isolation, it isn't easy to see how the e-tron can compete. After all, the car is going up against the BMW iX3, Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC, and the Tesla Model X.

We’re testing driving the mid-range S-Line trim, which includes 21-inch alloys, vehicle charging ports on both sides, contrast finish bumpers, Audi Virtual Cockpit and MMI Navigation Plus. It also has deluxe two-zone climate control, including remote preconditioning, front sports seats in Valcona leather upholstery, a comfortable front centre armrest, and Audi Matrix LED headlights with dynamic front and rear indicators. What’s more, you get adaptive sport air suspension and S-Line exterior styling with privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and an electric tailgate.

The 50 Quattro model has 313PS and a 0-62mph time of 6.8-seconds, while the 55 Quattro model will manage it in 5.7-seconds with its 408PS.

Of course, the ‘Quattro' tag means that it's four-wheel drive.

On The Road

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Performance

The e-tron’s performance sounds quite reasonable, and indeed it is. But you might be surprised at how far behind its rivals it is. The Jaguar I-Pace, for example, is a second quicker to 62mph than even the higher-powered 55 Quattro.

Nevertheless, the e-tron delivers an instant burst of acceleration off the line, and this first impression from a standing start means it still feels swift.

There is always plenty of power in reserve, no matter your speed. This means that if you’re doing 60mph and need to overtake, the e-tron will happily – and effortlessly – oblige.

Around town, the power off the line may take some getting used to if you’re not careful. But, instant torque is a feature of all-electric cars, so we'd imagine the e-tron’s ‘lack’ of power means rivals will need even more care.

In just about any given situation, the performance is there for when you need it.

 

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Ride Handling

Our S-Line trim's adaptive sports air suspension helps keep the ride smooth. However, some of the extra comfort over lower grades is offset by the larger alloys, which are 21-inches on the S-Line, compared with 20 further down the range.

Still, the comfort meets that of its rivals, while wind noise is well soundproofed out of the equation, helped by the acoustic windows.

The suspension’s Dynamic mode is preferable at higher speeds as the body roll is controlled better. Mind you, this will mean bumps are more noticeable at low speed.

It has plenty of grip, too. And around bends, you’ll expect a degree of resistance, given this is a large vehicle. But the lean in the corners is well limited.

The Audi still feels heavy, though, and this restricts the car's agility. In terms of outright handling panache, other rivals offer a more entertaining driving experience.
 

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Styling

Looking at pictures, you could be forgiven for thinking you were staring at an Audi A3. There is an undoubted similarity, but the e-tron is a lot bigger in size.

At the front, the large hexagonal grille dominates, with chrome vertical stripes. The lower grille has two diagonal struts on either side, adding to the sportiness. Either side of these, there are blackened, triangular air intakes that give the car an aggressive, muscular stance. Triangular headlights taper inwards to a pin-sharp point above the grille.

Down the side, you get S-Line badges, which act as tiny fenders. While there’s a generous size to the side-skirts, above which there’s a crease and an indentation, which is coloured black, to give the car an athletic presence. The alloy design on the S-Line is called ‘arm turbine’, with each wheel featuring five blades that look like futuristic windmill sails.

The rear is more modest, although there’s still a sweeping rear window, which a body-coloured spoiler overhangs. The taillights run along the width of the boot beneath the Audi badge. There’s another blackened indentation in the bumper, too.
 

In The Car

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Behind the Wheel

The cabin looks as great as you’d expect from an Audi. The steering wheel only has horizontal spokes, while the dashboard is angled, so the infotainment screen faces the driver.

The dash is chiselled and angled, rather than wavy and sloping, complementing the aggressiveness of the S-Line’s exterior.

Other than a few buttons on the wheel, everything is digitised. Annoyingly, this means the climate control must be adjusted from a lower touchscreen, making it trickier to use on the move.

The larger 10.1-inch screen sits above it. Like the Virtual Cockpit, it’s crisply clear and very responsive, while the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display is beautifully laid out and informative.

You’ll find two USB ports inside, along with wireless phone charging.
 

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Space & Practicality

The front has bags of room, so you can sit and relax without feeling boxed in. In the back, there’s a decent amount of legroom, too. So three adults sitting shoulder-to-shoulder will be fine for all but the longest of journeys. Even taller grown-ups won’t be complaining about the headroom, which is plentiful, as the roofline doesn’t curve down much above the rear seats.

The door bins are large, like the glove compartment, while there’s plenty of storage space in the centre console.

For boot space, you get 660-litres, expanding to 1,725-litres with the rear seats folded down. Levers in the boot will lower them for you in a 40:20:40 configuration. There is a small lip, but it's not so big as to cause a problem.

Underneath the bonnet, there’s a smaller amount of storage space.
The visibility out of the front is good, as the pillars on either side of the windscreen are thin. They're much thicker in the rear, although you get a rear-view camera to help you out.
 

Ownership

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Running Costs

The front has bags of room, so you can sit and relax without feeling boxed in. In the back, there’s a decent amount of legroom, too. So three adults sitting shoulder-to-shoulder will be fine for all but the longest of journeys. Even taller grown-ups won’t be complaining about the headroom, which is plentiful, as the roofline doesn’t curve down much above the rear seats.

The door bins are large, like the glove compartment, while there’s plenty of storage space in the centre console.

For boot space, you get 660-litres, expanding to 1,725-litres with the rear seats folded down. Levers in the boot will lower them for you in a 40:20:40 configuration. There is a small lip, but it's not so big as to cause a problem.

Underneath the bonnet, there’s a smaller amount of storage space.

The visibility out of the front is good, as the pillars on either side of the windscreen are thin. They're much thicker in the rear, although you get a rear-view camera to help you out.

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Quality & Reliability

The front has bags of room, so you can sit and relax without feeling boxed in. In the back, there’s a decent amount of legroom, too. So three adults sitting shoulder-to-shoulder will be fine for all but the longest of journeys. Even taller grown-ups won’t be complaining about the headroom, which is plentiful, as the roofline doesn’t curve down much above the rear seats.

The door bins are large, like the glove compartment, while there’s plenty of storage space in the centre console.

For boot space, you get 660-litres, expanding to 1,725-litres with the rear seats folded down. Levers in the boot will lower them for you in a 40:20:40 configuration. There is a small lip, but it's not so big as to cause a problem.

Underneath the bonnet, there’s a smaller amount of storage space.
The visibility out of the front is good, as the pillars on either side of the windscreen are thin. They're much thicker in the rear, although you get a rear-view camera to help you out.
 

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

Safety & Security

The front has bags of room, so you can sit and relax without feeling boxed in. In the back, there’s a decent amount of legroom, too. So three adults sitting shoulder-to-shoulder will be fine for all but the longest of journeys. Even taller grown-ups won’t be complaining about the headroom, which is plentiful, as the roofline doesn’t curve down much above the rear seats.

The door bins are large, like the glove compartment, while there’s plenty of storage space in the centre console.

For boot space, you get 660-litres, expanding to 1,725-litres with the rear seats folded down. Levers in the boot will lower them for you in a 40:20:40 configuration. There is a small lip, but it's not so big as to cause a problem.

Underneath the bonnet, there’s a smaller amount of storage space.

The visibility out of the front is good, as the pillars on either side of the windscreen are thin. They're much thicker in the rear, although you get a rear-view camera to help you out.

Summary

Audi e-tron Electric S-Line (2021 - )

The Audi e-tron is a worthy candidate for your cash.

With a fantastic interior, it’s got incredible comfort levels on the move and is relaxing and quiet to drive.

It isn't the quickest in an undeviating line, though, and some rivals have it licked for range.

The infotainment system, though superb looking, can be tricky to use on the move, not helped by the removal of nearly all physical switches and dials.

Other rivals are more fun to drive, and there’s plenty of competition out there. This model isn't the class leader if your focus is on outright performance and handling.

But for luxury and comfort, you’ll struggle to do better anywhere else.
 

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a Audi e-tron brochure
Request a Audi e-tron test drive
By Tim Barnes-Clay
Dec 08, 2021