First Drive

First Drive: Audi E-Tron Sportback

The story:
Audi has expanded its e-tron electric car line-up with a coupe-styled version called e-ron Sportback, which cost £1600 more than the more practical SUV-styled e-tron
Category:SUV
Key rival:Mercedes EQC
Audi e-tron Sportback 55 S Line
Price:£78,245
MPG:Range: 241 miles
Emissions:0g/km
On sale:Now

Audi has doubled the size of its all-electric offering with the addition of a Sportback body style to the e-tron EV. It is offered with the same 71.2kWh or 95kWh electric motors (badged 50 or 55) and has range figures of 193 and 248 miles respectively.

The Sportback will be chosen for purely aesthetic reasons, because it’s £1600 more expensive than the regular e-tron, has a slightly lower range figure from the same battery and loses 45 litres of boot space to that lower roofline. However, whole-life costs are very close, thanks to the Sportback’s better residual values.

First Drive- December 2020- Audi E-Tron Sportback- Image 3The looks are subjective in terms of whether the Sportback improves on the e-tron’s understated styling, and the two cars are otherwise very similar in terms of equipment, driving experience and performance, sharing a 6.6-second 0-62mph time for the more powerful motor and 6.8 seconds for the less powerful alternative.

The driving experience is one of relaxed performance; the Sportback has no sporting ambitions, and is instead a composed and comfortable long-distance steed with a range that will easily hit 200 miles with the larger-battery model.

First Drive- December 2020- Audi E-Tron Sportback- Image 2Something to avoid is the £1250 optional door mirror cameras that display on screens mounted into the door panels. The system’s benefits are slightly better visibility in the rain or at night, as well as a small aerodynamic improvement, but the screens can be nausea-inducing for some drivers and they also make parking manoeuvres more tricky because leaning forward or back doesn’t change the angle of view as would be the case with the perfectly fine mirror set-up. And that’s without mentioning the cost of repair if one takes a hit. Technology answering a question nobody asked, and a waste of money in an otherwise excellent, if already expensive, car.

paul barker

The verdict

The looks may sway it over the regular e-tron, and a good range, pleasant driving experience and high-quality interior are strong draws for what is still an expensive up-front cost that will of course benefit from low BiK payments for the next few years.