Audi claims a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.7 seconds and in reality this feels about bang on target. Maximum speed is apparently governed to 200km/h, but in the limited period I had the E-tron in my possession I got nowhere near this as I spent all my time navigating the ever-congested streets of Joburg.
And in this environment the E-tron truly excels. It’s so quiet and refined and easy going that a great percentage of one’s usual rush hour angst melts away. Comfortable too. Riding on standard adaptive air suspension that can be set to differing ride heights and various degrees of suppleness, this electric machine shrugs off the crappy bitumen that plagues our decaying suburbs.
Another cool E-tron feature is its regenerative braking system that offers three levels of bite ranging from everyday-mild to ultra-aggressive. Almost mimicking the “steps” you’d experience rowing up and down a traditional transmission, these stages are actuated by tapping paddles in front of the steering wheel. It’s a welcome addition and one that adds a bit more interaction to the otherwise anodyne electric car driving experience.
My one major gripe, however, is how hefty the E-tron is. Thanks to that huge battery pack this Audi tips the scales north of the 2.5-tonne mark, which is about 500kg more than a diesel powered SQ5 Sportback.
You feel it under braking and you especially feel it through corners — particularly when you are carrying a fair amount of speed into them. All electric cars of this ilk are chunky monkeys, but some, like the Jaguar I-Pace, seem to do a superior job at disguising their kerb weight whereas the Audi always feels somewhat hamstrung by it and even more so when you really start turning up the wick.
Enjoy it at more sedate speeds, however, and the E-tron drives with all the effortless poise and polish you would expect from a luxury Audi SUV. Albeit one powered by electricity instead of liquidised dinosaur bones. Not that you’d be able to pick this up from looking at it, of course.
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