Home: Motoring > New SUV is the first of ten electric-powered models by 2025

Audi joins electric car ranks with e-tron Quattro

From:Greg Kable 2018-09-18 18:04:46

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Greg Kable, who comes from Stuttgart, Germany, provides test drive manuscripts for several European automotive magazines such as Autocar, Auto Motor Und Sport.

Greg has more than 20 years of experience in automotive evaluation. He once worked as a Porsche professional test driver and represented the Porsche team in many world-class caravan competitions with super-high driving skills.


The all-electric Audi e-tron quattro will offer a range of over 400km, a recharge time of 30 minutes on a high-powered 150kW AC charging system and 0-100km/h acceleration in under six seconds when it goes on sale in China 2019.

Pictured here following its unveiling at a media event held in San Francisco on Monday evening ahead of a more formal launch set to take place at the Paris motor show in early October, the new five-seat model is the first electric-powered Audi to be placed into large scale production, following on from the ultra-exclusive R8 e-tron assembled in unspecified numbers as part of an in-house electric car development project back in 2016.

Equipped with two electric motors, the four-wheel drive Audi has been conceived to rival a growing number of luxury electric vehicles, including the recently unveiled Mercedes-Benz EQ C, Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and a production version of the BMW Vision iX3 concept in the first step of an €40 billion (319 billion Chinese Yuan) passenger car electrification offensive made public by the German car maker’s suspended chairman, Rupert Stadler, earlier this year.

Chinese pricing is yet to be announced, but Audi says the e-tron quattro will be sold at around €80,000 (638.701 Chinese Yuan) in its home market.

Initially previewed in concept car guise in 2016, it is the first of up to 10 new electric-powered Audi imodels planned for introduction by 2025, including a four-door GT to be previewed in concept car form at the upcoming Los Angeles motor show and a possible production version of the arresting PB-18 supercar shown at the recent Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey.

The e-tron quattro is based around a heavily modified version of Audi’s existing MLB platform, as used by a number of more conventional combustion engine models, including the A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7 and Q8 model lines. Key changes to its body structure include a new floorpan, which has been adapted to house a large lithium-ion battery. Without a conventional transmission tunnel, Audi says it helps to provide its latest model with class leading levels of interior accommodation.

Audi’s first series production electric is powered by a newly-developed drive system also earmarked to appear in the German car maker’s upcoming electric powered e-tron GT. It features two asynchronous electric motors – one used to drive the front wheels and the other providing drive to the rear wheels through separate single speed gearboxes and differentials. Together, they deliver a Mercedes-Benz EQ C equalling 300kW and up to 660Nm (467lb ft) of torque to all four wheels.

At low-to-moderate speeds the rear mounted motor exclusively powers the rear wheels. At higher speeds and periods of sustained acceleration the front motor is engaged to strengthen performance and provide the e-tron quattro with four-wheel drive capability via a system dubbed electric quattro. Although it is holding back on announcing an official kerb weight, Audi quotes a 0-100km/h time of less than six seconds along with a limited 200km/h top speed for the e-tron quattro, which is produced at the company’s newly re-organised and re-fitted manufacturing plant in Brussels, Belgium.

Audi also says, its new model offers a towing capacity of up to 1800kg.

In a move aimed at providing the new Audi with broad driving appeal, the e-tron quattro comes as standard with a drive select function that offers seven different driving modes, including dedicated sport and off-road modes. Along with four-wheel drive, torque vectoring is also employed to aid traction when grip levels are low.

Energy used to run the two electric motors is stored in a liquid cooled 95kWh lithium-ion battery that, in combination with its sturdy aluminium housing structure, is claimed to weigh up to 700kg. Comprising of 36 individual modules, it is housed within the floor of the new SUV underneath the cabin and bolted to the platform of the new Audi SUV at 35 points in a move claimed to increase the overall torsional rigidity of the body. At launch, each module is set to include 12 pouch style cells. However, Audi is looking to switch to prismatic cell technology, which officials say offers greater energy density, in the future.

Official Audi figures put the range of the e-tron quattro at over 400km under the new WLTP test procedure. This is 14km less than that quoted by Telsa for the Model X 90D but the same range announced by Mercedes-Benz for the EQ C, which uses a smaller 80kWh battery.

Audi says the recuperation system used by the e-tron quattro is among the most efficient yet offered on a production electric car, with tests showing it can recuperate up to 30 per cent of the new model’s toal range. It uses both of the electric motors to recover kinetic energy during coasting and under braking.

The driver can choose between three levels of recuperation via steering wheel mounted paddles with the lowest setting allowing coasting free from magnetic drag from the motors. During braking, an integrated control system decides whether to use the electric motors as alternators or friction brakes at up 0.3g of retardation, which Audi figures suggest covers over 90 per cent of all braking manoeuvres. In more determined braking, it performs a full brake application at each wheel.

Audi’s first true electric car comes as standard with an 11kW DC charging system. So configured, its battery to be recharged on either 230 volt or 400 volt three-phase household electricity outlets, with the latter claimed to provide an overall recharging time of around eight and half hours.

Buyers can also choose optional 22kW DC and 150kW AC systems. In the case of the latter, the recharging time is put at 30 mins. The charging process can be managed via smartphone app, allowing varying charging times and the operation of varying functions, including the air conditioning and heating.

The e-tron quattro is underpinned by an air suspension similar to that offered on the Q7. It offers 76mm of ride height adjustment, including a highway setting that lowers the body at speed for added aerodynamic efficiency and two off-road settings that raise the body by a maximum 50mm over the nominal ride height.

The inherent design of the electric drive system and the placement of the battery low down within the chassis at floor height is claimed to provide Audi’s first series production electric car with a front-to-rear weight distribution better than its combustion engined siblings at respective 51:49 per cent. As with the Q5, Q7 and Q8, the suspension features a five-link design both front and rear, while the electric steering boasts a variable ratio according to steering angle as well as speed dependent assistance that sees it become more direct as lock and speed increase.

Stylistically, the e-tron quattro adheres closely to the 2015 concept car of the same name. Typical Audi cues include a octagonal-shaped single frame grille, heavily structured front bumper and angular headlamps with a distinctive new teardrop design similar to that incorporated on the second-generation Q3.

Despite its electric propulsion, Audi says the inclusion of a fully functional grille is necessary to allow air to cool the power electronics system which control the amount of power delivered to the front and rear wheels.

Along the sides, the new battery-powered SUV also receives a prominent shoulder line that, as in other recent Audi models, runs from the outer edges of the headlamps to the forward tip of the tail lamps, optional rear-view exterior cameras as an alternative to conventional rear-view exterior mirrors.

A long roof extends well back towards the rear, which is dominated by a large spoiler within the upper section of the e-tron quattro’s one-piece tailgate as well as a full width light band between the tail lamps and a diffuser element within the lower section of the rear bumper.

Audi says it will offer its first true series production electric car with a choice of three wheel sizes; 19-inch is standard with both 20- and 21-inch an option in most markets. When fitted with the former and standard fit 225/55 profile tyres, the drag coefficient is put at 0.28 in combination with optional rear view cameras.

This makes the e-tron quattro more aerodynamically efficient than the new Mercedes-Benz EQ C, which boasts a claimed drag coefficient of 0.29.

“We’ve worked hard in the wind tunnel to boost the aerodynamic efficiency, especially around the front end, which in terms of efficiency sets new standards for Audi. A lot of effort has also gone into combining new technology such as the rear view cameras within the design,” says Alexander Hesse, the in-house designer responsible for the e-tron quattro’s exterior design.

The e-tron quattro is 241mm longer, 45mm wider and 44mm lower than the second-generation Q5 with which it shares key parts of its MLB underpinnings at a length of 4901mm, width of 1935mm and, with its air suspension set in its nominal position, height of 1616mm. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 108mm longer than its more conventional SUV sibling at 2928mm.

By comparison, the EQ C measures 4761mm in length, 1884mm in width and 1324mm in height. The new Mercedes-Benz, which will follow its Audi rival into showrooms next year, also receives a wheelbase that is 55mm shorter than that of the new Audi at 2873mm.

The interior of the e-tron quattro draws on the design first established on the latest generation A8 luxury sedan with multi layered dashboard featuring three separate high definition monitors for the instruments, infotainment system and ancillary functions. Newly developed monitors are also incorporated in upper leading edge of the front door trims in models fitted with the optional rear view cameras.

Nominal luggage capacity is put at 660-litres, including 60-litres in a storage compartment underneath the bonnet. With the rear seat backs fold down, the space increases to 1725-litres.

Editor:Greg Kable