29 Apr 2020
So what’s the all-electric Audi e-tron like to drive in the real world? Ahead of its official presentation in Singapore, Audi Singapore organised a special driving experience in Auckland, New Zealand, for some of its customers. Among them were Jeff Goh and Colin Chen, two long-time Audi fans with a passion for performance cars. They tell us more about their two-day experience getting behind the wheel of the Audi e-tron.
Q: What did you think about electric vehicles [EVs] before this trip?
JG: I suppose I’d thought of EVs as having fairly basic interior and exterior design, quite functional and with limited fun factor when it comes to driving. These were some impressions I’d gained from viewing EVs from other car brands. I also had concerns about their range and availability of charging stations.
CC: Of course I’d seen EVs around and looked at some, but I’d never driven any. Like Jeff, I didn’t know if we’d be able to drive any decent distance and for a good length of time, or whether an EV would need to be continuously recharged like my mobile phone!
Q. What were your first impressions of the Audi e-tron?
JG: Well, it was much larger than expected – it looked smaller in the pictures I’d seen. Without looking closely for the missing exhaust pipes, it’s not easy to tell right away that it’s an electric car. For me, the most eye-catching features are the front grille and the rims, and the muscular and sporty body styling. The interior is luxurious – clearly a car for the high-end market.
CC: I agree, I thought it looked like a large Audi SUV, which I like! The interior trim level was very nice. I’ve never owned a car with a full digital cockpit, as all my cars have had analogue instruments, so this was good. It’s easy to adapt to the digital read outs as they mimic traditional instruments, though of course there’s no rev counter! Overall, it clearly has Audi’s signature design elements and attention to detail, all my usual expectations of the brand which I appreciate a lot.
Q. How was it driving the Audi e-tron?
JG. Surprisingly, the car drives very well for a 2.4 tonne vehicle. The torque was good and quiet in execution – it's nice to be able to accelerate without hearing 'engine strain’ like in a petrol powered car. Given its size, I’d expected the Audi e-tron to struggle during cornering but it actually hugged the road very well with little roll. The ride quality is really comfortable – perfect for our cruise through the New Zealand countryside.
CC: It’s a very easy, smooth drive – you just put your foot down and it takes off with no fuss or lag, no loud noises, revving or exhaust sound. So a very interesting drive on that front. For driving on a daily commute, that’s fine for me. It goes fast, keeps up with traffic and overtakes easily – basically, it drives like a normal car. You can feel that it’s a heavy car when you stop from high speed, but the Audi e-tron’s brakes do a good job.
Q: You got to try the new virtual exterior mirrors – how was that?
JG: Yes, we tried Audi e-tron models with and without them. At first I didn’t find it easy as I was still looking out of the window expecting to see a conventional mirror. They were also quite challenging when reversing into a tight space.
CC: Actually, I liked the virtual side mirrors. The positioning of the viewing screen is quite different obviously, set inside rather than outside the door, but once I trained myself to look at the right spot I thought they were very good. The fact that you can change what you’re looking at and adjust the magnification is smart, too. Maybe the screen could have been a bit larger, but that might be because my eyesight isn’t what it once was!
Q. Did you notice the electric power consumption?
CC: We did some long drives on this trip, well over a couple of hundred kilometres on the first day, and it wasn’t a problem. The Audi e-trons were all plugged into the chargers at night, so they were fully charged for us by morning and ready to go again.
Q: How did you rate the overall experience?
JG: The Audi team is always excellent when it comes to event organisation, so we were well taken care of. Apart from driving the Audi e-tron, I have fond memories of cruising through the beautiful New Zealand countryside, including a wonderful detour to an alpaca farm which was so interesting.
CC: I really enjoyed the trip and it was very well planned. I just wish it could have been a bit longer!
Q: Finally, have your impressions about electric mobility changed at all?
JG: I do like the fact that an electric car is less damaging to the environment. From this driving experience, my take away is that I can own an electric car without having to sacrifice comfort or luxury. I’m also eager to try Audi’s sportier electric models that are in the pipeline, such as the Audi e-tron Sportback.
CC: An EV might not be my next car but this is certainly the way to go. Once charging in Singapore becomes as convenient as going to the petrol station, then I see electric mobility taking off, no doubt about it.