Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Two power outputs available
  • Heavy vehicle, but even the slowest vehicle is quick
  • Overtaking is still a breeze

Audi’s first fully electric plug-in production model features a pair of electric motors, with one for each axle for its Quattro all-wheel drive system.

>> We rate the best electric SUVs for 2020

There are two power outputs to choose from, badged 50 and 55.

The entry-level 50 produces 312hp and 540Nm of torque. Despite the considerable 2,370kg weight, this is still enough to heave the E-Tron from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds. Top speed is 118mph.

The more powerful 55 model was available from launch and produces 360hp. That power can be momentarily increased to 402hp under boost when Sport is selected on the transmission, allowing the E-Tron to complete a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds. Take it out of Sport mode, and this time increases to 6.6 seconds. Top speed is in the region of 124mph.

It retains Audi’s Drive Select system, which offers a choice of Offroad, Allroad, Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and a configurable Individual setting, Audi’s BEV not just an SUV in looks, then, it promising some real off-road ability.

We didn’t think it felt as lively as itsTesla or Jaguar rivals, but then the 5.7-second 0-62mph time is testament to that impression too – both Model X and I-Pace are much faster off the line.

The more powerful 55 is claimed to travel further on a full charge, too. You can read how the two compare on the mpg and running costs page of this review

When it comes to towing, both have an unbraked trailer limit of 750kg.

How does it handle?

  • Physics-bending in a straight line
  • Struggles to hide all of its bulk in the bends
  • One of the best bits about the car

Audi slaps the Quattro rings and a Dynamic mode on most things nowadays, but the E-Tron actually earns those badges. In a straight line, it does what we’ve come to expect from electric cars; it’s remarkably quick to 30mph, and only really shows its weight when in braking zones. We were even impressed at just how composed the car is in the twistier bits: driven gently, like an eSUV should be, it’s remarkably fun to push.

The E-Tron is agile in corners – providing you add respectful levels of steering angle. Driven in a measured way, you’ll find much less body-roll than you’d expect of a 2.5-tonne car. It’s efficient, too, boasting a drag figure of just 0.28, which is relatively low for an SUV.

It’ll also perch up on the same suspension for the best ground clearance should you want to take the car off road, with ground clearance of 172mm and a fording depth of 300mm. We found the ride quality impressive on its air springs, with a natural feel despite the fact our launch cars were sat on 21-inch alloys.

The steering felt a little light in Comfort mode, but gets heavier as you select sportier gaits from the E-Tron, and it’s fabulously responsive when you turn into a bend.

The brakes nip at your inside wheel where required to tighten the car’s line, but a cleverer trick is the introduction of a two-stage brake pedal. This means the car actually uses its motors in reverse, as a sort of generator, to recover some of the energy lost when you don’t need full braking power. Push harder and the car’s traditional hydraulic disc brakes begin to work, but you get 0.3g of deceleration with the motors alone. Thankfully, this entire process is rather seamless, which is exactly how it should be.

We didn’t think it as abrupt as Nissan’s Leaf can be when slowing down, but during our test the car told us we’d managed to recuperate nearly seven miles of range simply by braking or lifting off. You can also use the paddles to reduce or increase the rate of energy recuperation, and it’ll feel like the car is sticking in the higher modes.

The battery weighs around 700kg and is housed in the E-Tron’s unique structure - which Audi engineers claim is some 40% stiffer than that of the Q5. Its total kerb weight is a not inconsiderable 2,490kg, which highlights how impressive the handling is in spite of that heft.