Audi Launches the 2020 e-tron Sportback Edition One, Pledges rapid Electrified Expansion
Audi jumped head first into the go electrified pool, joining Volkswagen in staking its future on big electric vehicle ambitions. By 2025, which is coming scarily quickly, Audi claims nearly one-third of its U.S. line-up will come with some sort of hybrid or fully electric powertrain.
In 2019, according to Marklines.com, total vehicle sales fell just short of 17,050,000. And according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Statistics, 726,500 of those were hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full electric. Combining those together amounts to little more than four percent of sales. In other words, Audi, just like VW, and, frankly Polestar, Tesla, Hyundai, Hummer, and many others are expecting a dramatic shift in attitude toward electrified cars and quickly.
Audi’s full EV assault started with the e-tron SUV in 2019. And for 2020, the Ingolstadt brand is doubling that with the e-tron Sportback. On its face, the Sportback is little more than the SUV with a fastback body. After all, you get the same two-electric motors, one for each axle, delivering the same 355 hp, 402 hp with boost mode engaged, and the same 95 kwh battery pack as well.
But the bigger picture is that Audi is starting its EV sales life right in the middle of a very popular SUV segment, and the sweptback roofline on SUVs is quickly becoming the popular version. This will, no doubt, help the brand from achieve its goal of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2050.
It’s a noble goal, to be sure, but actually less ambitious than others. Mercedes Benz, for example, aims to reach the same target in 2039. Still, Audi giving itself any kind of deadline for a net zero carbon footprint is laudable. And its next step toward that target is the Sportback Edition One.
With just 200 examples planned, the Edition One kicks off the e-tron Sportback with an exclusive Plasma Blue metallic paint, unique styling treatment on the front and rear bumpers and door sills, special leather, orange brake calipers seen through special 21-inch wheels, and projection puddle lamps seen when opening the front doors that say “e-tron Edition One.” Think of it like a top-trimmed Audi Prestige model, and a bit more. Starting price is $89,490
After the 200th Edition One is spoken for, Sportback sales carry-on in 2020 with Premium Plus trimmed models starting at $78,395. If you need less equipment and/or want a lower starting price, wait until the 2021 model year to pick-up a premium model starting at $70,095, but know you’ll have to live with out ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and ambient interior lighting
And while you might think the Sportback is nothing more than the SUV with a different body, Audi made updates to the powertrain that take it a little farther. For example, the Sportback makes use of 91 percent, 86.5 kwh, of the battery pack, up three percent from the e-tron SUV. Audi learned the driver can extract more charge and still maintain battery life. That makes for a range of 218 miles, when equipped with 20-inch wheels., 21-inch wheels drops range a few miles.
Range figures aside, the Sportback works really hard to not feel different than any other crossover SUV, regardless of what propels it. You can tow 4,000 lbs if you want—that should be no problem with 414 lb-ft of torque, 490 in boost mode. You get heated and ventilated seats and 20-inch wheels as standard. You can order one with massaging seats.
The e-tron Sportback is first and foremost a car, one that Audi handed over to try for a little while. I accepted and drove around a quite a bit. That included a drive from Ann Arbor to Detroit, cruise around the city a bit and then back to Ann Arbor, well over 100 miles round trip. And it proved a good test of range anxiety. I started the trip with 170 miles of range, close to 90% charge. I drove normally, no change to speed or style and finished with the trip with 58 miles of range, no problem. Anxiety thwarted.
The Sportback behaves very well on the interstate. It’s quiet, smooth, and rides well. The adaptive air-suspension makes easy work of Detroit patchy pavement. Furthermore, having such a smooth powertrain carrying you along is simply more relaxing than a gas engine counterpart. Otherwise, it’s easy to forget its electric. Everything is normal. You’re just in a luxury SUV, doing your thing.
After getting home, it was time to charge. Using Electrify America, I signed up for an account after downloading the app and then found a charging station about 10 miles away from my house. And I live in Southeast Michigan, Not Southern California. There was a 150kw station available—e-tron’s fasting charging—no problem.
As a first time user, the charge was free. I plugged in the e-tron and it quickly ramped up to 150kw charging speed. After about 20 minutes, it reached 80% charge. Once that happened charging power reduced continuously, such that it took another 8 minutes to reach 90% charged, which is when I unplugged and went on my way. Had I paid, it would’ve cost $26.23 for a total charge of 62 kwh and a charging time of 28 minutes and 11 seconds.
If this was a road trip, I could’ve stopped at a couple of nearby places to sip tea while waiting for the charge. Either way, it’s imaginable to grow impatient of this break every two-three hours. But if it’s not a road trip, just a rare occasion need, no problem. If anything, it breaks up the day nicely.
The Sportback duly impressed for the days work that required transportation. You get spoiled with satisfying power that is both immediate and consistent. Acceleration isn’t overwhelming, 0-60 mph takes 5.5 seconds, but with such instant response, you’re not left wanting for more.
In fact, the only place the Sportback doesn’t deliver stellar results is on a twisty two-lane road. Even with drive mode set to sport, you get plenty of body roll and feel all the weight that has to move around. The steering feels a bit artificial, as well. Sometimes it’s simply due to the driver nanny programs kicking on, like lane keep assist. But even without that, it feels slightly notched in rotation, less analog, more digital. It’s subtle, but it’s there.
Brakes, too, aren’t quite right. Stopping power does not build up linearly and feels as is if there are sudden drops and gains in deceleration as the Sportback transitions between battery-regen and good old fashion friction brakes. It would be better if regen were built into coasting. With the e-tron, you get a small portion of regen, which you manually increase with the left hand steering paddle. I much prefer one-pedal driving with full regen as I lift off throttle and then regular friction brakes for the left pedal when needed.
But, again, that’s noticed during spirited driving on a country road, not really what the e-tron Sportback is intended for anyway. It can do it, but not like, say, an S6. Then again, the S6 doesn’t achieve an MPGe rating of 76 city, 78 highway, 77 combined, either. And that means you can’t bring the S6 home empty, plug it in to a 240-volt charger on the wall, wait 9 hours, and be full again.
The Sportback is a wholly accessable and easy way to transition your everyday driving from an internal combustion engine powered car to excited electrons and feel a lot of luxury while doing it. It’s brilliant.
Source: Read Full Article