Audi e-tron SUV - Interior & comfort
Stunning e-tron interior design combines with uncanny quietness to luxurious effect
Although electric cars tend to be fairly quiet by default, we were still surprised just how silently the e-tron can move. The electric motors are almost completely quiet, and the interior is well insulated against the ruckus of road and wind noise. Even with big 21-inch alloy wheels fitted, the e-tron proved adept at soaking up bumps in the road, too - traits that are aided by its air suspension and two-and-a-half tonne weight.
Audi e-tron dashboard
Audi claims that the e-tron's spacious, comfortable interior 'makes electric mobility a premium experience'. It's certainly well equipped, and the interior design is full of the top-quality finishes we've come to expect from the brand. It also makes use of the dual-screen layout seen in the Audi A6, A7 and A8, along with a standard 'Virtual Cockpit' configurable digital dashboard.
Spec highlights include Audi's top 'MMI navigation plus' infotainment system, which has been tailored to suit EV drivers. It uses 10.1-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower full-HD screens with haptic feedback to register when a command has been input, and offers an 'e-tron route planner' feature. This calculates a route that passes charging points where necessary, taking real-time traffic levels into account. It can also facilitate automated payment via Audi's 'Plug and Charge' system that will roll out during 2019. MMI is a neat system, but we reckon BMW's latest infotainment is more intuitive.
There are assistance systems installed to reduce driver workload and improve efficiency. Key among these is 'efficiency assist', which monitors your driving style and displays predictive energy usage information, and determines when best to employ the car's energy recuperation system. When adaptive cruise control is engaged, the system can also brake and accelerate the e-tron according to traffic conditions, avoiding wasteful use of the brakes in favour of regenerative braking.
A smartphone app is available to enable limited remote control functionality, andl LTE Advanced and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity are also provided. Audi also says that the e-tron offers an upgrade path, so buyers can add certain features at a later date. The LED headlights, for example, can be converted to intelligently controlled matrix LED units, while infotainment modules such as DAB+ radio and Audi's smartphone interface system can be added.
A novel feature of the early 'Launch Edition' cars is a pair of 'virtual' door mirrors that use high-resolution cameras in place of reflective glass, which send images to a pair of interior screens. We found them more awkward to use than traditional mirrors, though, and certainly wouldn't recommend you pay the £1,250 to add them to a non-Launch Edition car.
Just like conventionally powered Audi models, there's a raft of options available. The Comfort and Sound Pack adds a Bang & Olufsen stereo with 16 speakers, ambient interior lighting, advanced keyless entry and a 360-degree camera to make parking easier.
It's also possible to add features like a panoramic glass sunroof, privacy glass and extra leather trim for the interior. Technology can be further extended with a head-up display (£1,500) and Night Vision Assistant (£2,200), but these are pricey additions.