A brand-new white Mercedes two-door coupe is to my right, matching my speed.I’m slightly ahead and can just see a red P poking out of the side of the front number plate as I try to merge onto the highway.The dark tint on their windows stop me from seeing the face of my rival in this duel, but it’s clear they are a moron.Ordinarily, if someone won’t let me merge I’d be forced to slow down in my 15-year-old Subaru – which merely gets louder, not faster, when you put your foot down.But I’m driving the new Audi e-tron Sportback, and this thing can go from 80km/h to 120km/h in 3.5 seconds.The electric motors don’t make a sound as I surge ahead and the leave P-plater in their Merc wondering what just happened.After a year like 2020 (and we still have a few months of it to go), electric vehicles make a whole lot of sense.It’s nearly bushfire season again, luckily, we all have masks now anyway for the inevitable clouds of smoke.So, driving a car with zero-emissions is something we should all think strongly about.
Audi moves into the electric vehicle market
The e-tron and e-tron Sportback are Audi’s first-ever all-electric vehicles and bring that same quality and construction you expect from the motoring giant.This is how the Audi team describe the new range;This is Audi engineering at its finest: bringing future mobility to life in a way that is impressive, yet familiar enough for customers to be thrilled by their very first experience.There are a couple of options you can buy that will take you a little bit further on the battery, or get you there a little bit faster.Driving the top of the range Sportsback model around Canberra, one of the most startling things is the silence.Yes, most electric cars are near-silent. But the build quality on the Audi is like sitting in a recording studio it’s so sound-proof.Opening the window doing 60km/h is like an explosion of noise after you get used to the quiet.The other thing you notice is the speed. It’s not a hair-raising acceleration like the Tesla, but it gets as fast as you could possibly need to go on a public road.In the e-tron 55 Quattro variants, with 265kW of power and 561Nm of torque, it’s 0-100km/h sprint is 6.6 seconds.But you can use the boost function to do it in 5.7 seconds.With just one gear, the power is smooth and you can access it with ease, removing that annoying habit of cars going up a hill and not having the right RPM for the gear it’s in.
How far can you go before you need to recharge?
Officially, it’s between 300km and 400km depending on the model you drive. I drove from Canberra to Sydney with a lot of detours along the way through country roads.I pulled into a servo Goulburn that had the fast-charge station.It took about half an hour while I snacked on some lunch and it was back to 100 per cent. That is faster than my mobile phone takes to re-charge.Audi says fast-charging will restore 90 per cent of the battery in 30 minutes or a full charge in 45 minutes.But if you are on the road a lot, it’s certainly not as quick as filling up with petrol. You will need to factor this into any lengthy trip.
Charging on the fly
One of my favourite parts of driving the e-tron was the paddles behind the wheel.Pull back on the left paddle and the car slows down. Your power gauge on the dash shows the battery levels going up. Click it again and the braking is even more pronounced.These paddles use the car itself to recharge its own battery. It’s a clever design that has you thinking like a game.How can I put a bit more juice in the battery with this upcoming traffic light?I’m going down a hill, can I use that to boost the battery?It brings an enjoyable aspect to driving that was a totally new experience for me.
So, what does it cost?
All this technology isn’t cheap. Plus, it’s an Audi. It’s a luxurious car to sit in and has all the perks you want with a stylish design.If you want the top of the range e-tron Sportback it will cost $169,350. The base model e-tron 50 quattro is $137,100.The car has incredible upsides just as a well-crafted vehicle. But the zero-emission is the key here. If you can afford to drive an electric car, it’s a strong ethical choice.Original Fast and Furious car among dozens of retro items for auctionView GalleryBrandon Livesay was a guest of Audi for the trip detailed in the above review.