Balbir Dhillion, head of Audi India, says, “The company is focusing on products, customer centricity and digitization. We expect 15% of our sales here through electrified cars by 2025 and local assembly can’t be ruled out.” With promises and commitments out of the way, turn towards the e-tron 55.
The strength of e-tron 55 lies in the way it looks, feels and drives. As we go along, I’ll touch upon all of that.
The e-tron 55 commands presence like none of its rivals — thanks to full-blown SUV design and not a crossover inspiration. With a single-frame grille, the e-tron 55 tries to mimic the Q5s and Q7s. These SUVs also remotely share the MLB Evo platform. The reference inherently suggests, the size is going to be distinctly large.
The e-tron runs almost 5 metres in length, 2 metres in width, rides on 20-inch alloy wheels and packs a boot space of over 650 litres.
It’s all-electric but doesn’t scream electric from the way it looks. The wholesome height gives the feel of a full-size SUV and not a crossover. Even from the rear, the connected tail lights, the slightly elevated tail blend well with the design. The matrix LEDs upfront, connected LED strip on the tailgate showcase typical Audi design language.
If you think black lifts the premium quotient inside the cabin, here is a heavy dose of dark material wrapping the seats, dashboard and door panels of the e-tron. At times, you feel the cabin visually monotonous black and red accents, stitching on the fabric or a flat bottom wheel would have looked better. The interior is peppered with a panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable seats, wireless phone charging, three-zone climate control.
Adaptive suspension is again a segment-first for EVs in India. The ground clearance is healthier (standard: 172 mm) in e-tron than the rivals, so your floor batteries are away from the speed breakers.
I like the fact the cockpit has been designed in a driver-focused way. The steering wheel is light, easy-to-hold, agile and responds sharply. The driver’s display is a virtual cockpit with sharp and crisp detailing. The twin touch screens – one for entertainment and the other for AC controls – are slightly titled towards the driver, making it easier to access on the move.
E-tron, much like its rivals, gets twin-axle motor and all-wheel drive. Expect 360 horsepower and 561 Nm of peak torque in the general condition which increases by 50 units if driven in Sport or Dynamic mode.
Audi supplies a 95 kWh battery pack to the e-tron 55 which is the largest in terms of capacity among rivals. The battery delivers up to 440 km, according to WLTP cycle claims. But in real life and city conditions, the e-tron should deliver around 400 km.
E-tron isn’t the quickest to 0-100 kmph. I-PACE and EQC pull off 100 kmph from standstill in 4.8 seconds and 5.1 seconds respectively. The Audi is almost a second slower than the I-PACE. Does that matter? If the venue isn’t a race circuit, e-tron’s consistency on regular roads is praiseworthy. The Quattro traction system blindly sticks to the tarmac, giving optimum grip even in case of understeers.
The ride quality is slightly on the firmer side, as expected from a CBU (completely built unit). On rough terrains, the ride turns lumpy and air suspensions seem to bottom out when pushed hard. It’s still commendable among the rivals.
As for the charging, the 11kW AC charger Audi will supply as part of the package, refills the battery in 8.5 hours while a 50 kW fast charger at dealerships will take less than 2 hours.
Should you buy an e-tron? Well, Audi India says healthy bookings are coming from tier-1 and tier-2 cities. More and more carmakers joining in the electrification momentum will help the larger cause of EV adoption. For now, the e-tron (Rs 1.17 crore ex-s) will be within the reach of a handful but appears to be the most appealing package.