The real battle for the hearts and minds of those who want an electric car, or will shortly feel they have no choice but to buy one, starts here. Here’s an Audi: a full-sized SUV-type family car, as electric as your toaster and about as mainstream, too. Tesla is the citadel and the rocks are now flying.
So Audi flew us to the Middle East, where there’d be no chance of needing the heating, headlights, windscreen wipers or any of those juice-sapping conveniences that constitute so much of the reality gap between claimed and actual range for electric cars. But nor did they appear to know about the 100mph speed limit just introduced on a new Abu Dhabi motorway, so I made its batteries drag two and half tonnes of metal through the air at an even tonne then, when we got lost, went quite a lot faster on a gravel road.
But the thing still did more than 200 miles before I got to lunch, where specially provided 150kW chargers gave me 200 more in little more than 20 minutes. And suddenly it all started to make sense.
The e-tron provides a perfectly pleasant place. It doesn’t handle at all, but then few who buy one will care. It’s Bodleian quiet, exceptionally comfortable and has a well laid out and presentable interior.
The e-tron shows how easy and, yes, how pleasant electric cars can be. But now show me one that’s great to drive…
Engine Front and rear electric motors
Power to weight 162bhp per tonne
Transmission Single-speed automatic
Top speed 155mph
Economy 248 miles
Verdict Solid start, but lacks fun factor
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