Sexier, sleeker but fundamentally unchanged – Is the Audi E Tron 55 Sportback the pick of the electric SUV range or just a case of style over substance? David recently spent a week living with one to see if it’s worth the extra £3k over a similarly equipped normal E Tron.
You’ve probably seen the Audi E Tron quietly cruising round the streets of the UK. In 2020 Audi sold more than double the number of E Trons compared to the year before. Thanks, mostly, to some borderline silly lease deals that made taking the plunge almost a no-brainer. I was one of those people who managed to get a base-spec E Tron 50 for less per month than most run-of-the-mill hatch backs. But what if you want something that has a bit more curb-appeal? That’s where the E Tron Sportback comes in.
It isn’t hard to describe the Sportback. It’s basically the same car with a swoopy roofline making it look sportier and overall more desirable. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s successful. Personally I’m not a fan of these faux-coupe SUV things. Thankfully Audi’s approach isn’t ugly. Far from it in fact. The Sportback is a good looking car. As SUVs go, it’s a great looking car and is one the rare times that this kind of design language improves upon the original.
Thankfully, in the real world, the sexier styling doesn’t damage the E Tron’s practicality. The boot is still cavernous and allowed me to click and collect a wardrobe from IKEA without too much hassle. Of course big boxy items like washing machines won’t fit but if that’s your concern, save yourself the bill at the chiropractor and pay for delivery! The back seat headroom is almost exactly the same so no issue there either.
The rest of the car is the same as any other E Tron 55. It’s fast quiet and smooth to drive. Backroads are still best approached with restraint. You can’t hide 2.5 tons even if the centre of gravity is surprisingly low for an SUV. For the best ride, avoid the bigger wheels. The smallest wheels still look good and will make long journeys feel like your driving on a road of pillows. Almost.
Range is still poor by Tesla standards. I managed 190 miles with sensible driving in early Spring weather. Some can get over 200 but it’ll take serious restraint. I was once told by another EV owner to turn off the climate control to get better range but frankly that’s not how these cars are meant to be used. You shouldn’t be shivering in your £90k SUV.
Like most press cars, this E Tron comes stuffed full of extras. Some are well worth it and some really aren’t. I’d avoid the fancy camera mirrors. They simply aren’t as nice to live with as normal mirrors. Spend the money instead on the panoramic roof option. It makes the cabin so much airier. The standard stereo is also rather good in my base model so the hefty price for the better speakers/amps is only really for the real audiophiles.
Overall the Audi E Tron 55 Sportback is one of the nicest electric SUVs on sale right now thanks to an amazing interior and some great exterior design. You just have to decide if you can afford the asking price and can live with the meagre range. Go and drive one and you’ll find every other diesel or petrol SUV will feel unrefined.