Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Audi quality throughout the cabin
  • Very few buttons to press in here
  • Don't bother with the camera door mirrors

Jump aboard the Audi E-Tron and it should familiar if you’ve been in an A8 or any recent model refresh. Inside, it’s all haptic-feedback and touchscreens, with black panels throughout asking you to swipe and prod. Obviously, this marks a drastic change from the clickwheel system of the last few years: if you don’t like it, there’s no way to go back, though.

At first, it’s hard to judge how much pressure to use when flying through menus, but the haptic feedback system does ultimately help. At the same time, Virtual Cockpit has been adapted well for the E-Tron.

An industry first for Audi here, as the door mirrors on each side are replaced with cameras which use screens to display an image inside, just above the door handles. We simply couldn’t get used to this, if only because it took us nearly all day to get used to looking somewhere that wasn’t out of the window in order to see backwards. It feels counter-intuitive as  you look to where the mirror should be, and then look down from there to a display inside the car. They're not as adjustable as a regular mirror would be, either.

The perimeter of the screens flash when there’s a vehicle in your blindspot, which we found useful given the screens didn’t seem quite as clear as a regular door mirror. We also felt they were fiddly to adjust by using a fingertip on the screen itself. However, the camera system means less drag, and that’s important in a large electric SUV.

Our drive gave us a good impression of Audi’s premium audio system, and navigating the touchscreen menus revealed a number of elements unique to its drivetrain. There’s a ‘Range Mode’, allowing drivers to select the most economical air-conditioning mode to increase the maximum range, while the regeneration on offer from the drivetrain is variable, allowing sailing modes at speed, or high regeneration via the motor in stop-start city traffic.

Is it comfortable?

  • Adaptive but comfortable in the right mode
  • Cabin noise is the only real sound
  • Will be tried with electric door mirrors, soon

Considering the smallest wheels fitted on the E-Tron are 20-inches in size, the ride quality isn't as harsh as some may fear. We've tested models with the larger 21-inch wheels and we're glad to report that you won't be bouncing around too much on rougher road surfaces or be thrown about when going over bigger bumps.

It's not perfect, and the 'smaller' 20-inch wheels should be ever-so-slightly better, but it does a pretty good job at isolating you from the road. 

When in Comfort mode, the E-Tron’s adaptive air suspension is able to smooth out most ruts and bumps in the road, while still feeding back a good amount of information to your fingertips. Click over to Dynamic, however, and you will start to feel the imperfections creeping through your seat. It's not uncomfortable by any means, it's just unsettled - and sometimes the little bumps that frequently make themselves felt can become a little annoying.

The loudest noise the cabin isn’t the drivetrain – that’s just a pleasing whirr that occasionally appears in the background – it’s actually wind and road noise. At urban speeds, road noise overtakes anything from the electric motors, and at motorway speeds the interior cabin is dominated by noise from both the wind and the road.

Interestingly, at around 70mph, most of the noise we heard seemed to emanate from the standard wing mirrors, while those with the cameras are a little more hushed.

A huge amount of effort has been placed on the aerodynamics, not just for efficiency, but refinement, the E-Tron coming with an acoustic windscreen as well as the option of acoustic glass for the side windows. This has the net effect of making for an extremely quiet cabin environment at most speeds.

Its all-wheel drive system functions a lot quieter than most 4x4s because it’s fully electric, which means the whir of motors takes the place of noisy differentials in the transmission.

Overall, the E-Tron is more comfortable than the equivalent SUV running on petrol or diesel, thanks to its hushed cabin combined with the smooth power delivery of the electric motors and absence of gearchanges. The ride is impressive, considering the size of the wheels, and the seats are comfortable and supportive enough for longer journeys. We suspect you'll need to recharge the battery before you start to ache.

Rear passengers can also have their own climate control settings and vents, along with two USB ports and a 12v power socket.