Cars > Electric

Audi goes electric with the e-Tron 55 Quattro

The automaker shows that it doesn't need to reinvent itself to go engine-less

The e-Tron is a familiar face with loads of new tech underneath. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

In what is perhaps a massive turnaround from the Dieselgate scandal that broke out in 2015, Audi is now leading the charge in electric vehicle mobility, keen to rid itself of its dirty past just seven years ago. The brand was one of the first luxury European brands to globally market its EV lineup, which has now grown to three models (the sedan, the SUV, and the SUV coupe) with more models in the pipeline.

For a country that’s crazy about SUVs, the first model to gain popularity from the marque in the Philippines is the e-Tron 55 SUV.

The e-Tron is surprisingly capable off the beaten path for an EV. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

At first sight, the body size is something like a smaller Q8: squared-off, wide but short (larger than a Q5 but shorter than a Q7). For those numbers obsessed, the e-Tron rides on a 2,928mm wheelbase, with a total length of 4,901mm, a width of 1,935mm (2,043mm with the side mirrors), and a height of 1,629mm. There’s a useful 1,489mm of width inside the very airy cabin, and the track width is 1,655mm.

Perhaps the most impressive bit of numbers data is the advertised wading depth of 500mm. Are you bold/brave/crazy enough to actually drive through flooded waters or mild river crossings half a meter deep in an EV?

The e-Tron's design strikes the right balance between traditional and futuristic. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

The beauty of the e-Tron 55 is that it looks, feels and drives similarly to a regular internal-combustion-engined Audi—light, easy and effortless—but with all the positive attributes of an electric vehicle. Silent, smooth and technology-packed, with the surety of grip afforded by Quattro all-wheel drive, and the instant and massive surge of power from the dual asynchronous motors powering the front and rear axles, with a 95kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The author could've pushed this futher on a single charge if he wanted to. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Audi Philippines claims a range of as much as 408km on a single charge, comparable to a typical gasoline Audi SUV. In the real world, after four days of driving in mostly city conditions, covering a shade under 100km with heavy traffic, the car still had a 66% charge when I returned it.

I could have easily gone over 300km if my driving was confined within Metro Manila. And remember that a typical charge-up in an e-Tron is less than P1,000. That’s literally a fifth or less than the cost of a diesel or gasoline SUV.

The e-Tron's cabin presents itself as a serene yet high-tech place for all occupants. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

The lack of engine sound can sometimes accentuate tire and wind noise and other external audio interferences, but the vehicle is extremely well-insulated inside, making for a very cocooned environment.

But out on the open road, the available 402hp and 664Nm can be had two ways: smooth as silk or hard like Thor’s hammer. The throttle sensitivity feels just right: well-metered, intuitive, and progressive, making for smooth, easy progress in traffic.

The brakes look quite small inside the massive wheels, but are hardly used as the electric motor’s regenerative braking abilities do the majority of braking under most driving conditions to help charge the battery better and sooner, with the regular mechanical brakes only working in earnest under full load or emergency situation.

Despite these huge rollers, you'll be guaranteed a plush and stable ride. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

It’s a heavy car at under 2,500kg. And while straight-line acceleration bends the laws of physics despite the weight disadvantage, you can’t beat Newton around corners, particularly quick left-right-left transitions. But it isn’t meant to be a sporty ride, focusing rather on refinement, luxury and smoothness.

The weight, in fact, helps tame the ride, despite riding on huge 21-inch wheels shod with equally massive and grippy Bridgestone Alenza all-season tires measuring 265/45, thanks to the aforementioned air suspension. Ride height is set at 172mm, which makes entry and exit a breeze, but lowers by 20mm at speed for better aerodynamic efficiency. It also allows for 76mm of increased height adjustment depending on drive mode.

The e-Tron should prove to be a very familiar experience for those who want an EV without the learning curve of one. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Thinking about making the plunge and getting yourself into an EV as your next car? The e-Tron will make that transition safe and easy with its familiarity, but impress you with its futuristic driving feel and dynamics (not to mention efficiency while doing your part to help the environment).

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.