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Audi e-tron lite – Audi e-tron 50 review

Regardless of the product you’ve all seen the adverts that boast ‘same great taste, but less calories’ (or sugar or alcohol), essentially lighter options that are apparently just as good as the ‘full fat’ originals, though in reality, they barely ever are. However, with the e-tron 50 Audi New Zealand may have come up with something to counter that trend, so we decided to take a closer look.

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

At 4,901mm the new e-tron 50 is the same length as the e-tron 55, it’s the same width and height too. It’s still got the single frame e-tron grille, still has 660L of luggage space and still has the desirable Audi quattro drivetrain.

The interior is the same too. It’s still bathed in Milano leather, has the full (and I mean full) of Audi technical wizardry and state of the art connectivity, has a huge suite of driver and safety aids and still has adaptive air suspension for an enviable Audi drive experience – so the big question is, what doesn’t it have?

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

Well firstly, it’s lost ‘5’ from the badging which in the Audi world moves it down a category. Essentially the number 50 represents vehicles with an output of between 210 to 230kW with the 55 signifying vehicles with an output of 245 to 275kW, mind you, the e-tron 50 does sit at the top of its league with 230kW and 540Nm of torque so let’s not think it’s underpowered.

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

It’s lost weight too, it’s 120kg lighter than its 55 sibling, which bearing in mind it still comes loaded with all the e-tron refinement, one can only assume that the savings come via a smaller battery – and it is smaller.

The 50 comes with a 71kWh lithium-ion battery that’s good for up to 336km of WLTP range, 81km less than the 55 but when you realise that the average Kiwi commute is 40km per day, that’s still eight days of stuck in traffic range. It’s DC charging capacity is less too, 120kW vs 150 and the 0-100km/h and top speed are less, 1.3 seconds and 10km/h respectively, but when you’re racing between the lights in just 7 seconds and being pulled over for doing 190km/h I’m sure the fine will still be a hefty one.

Finally it’s lost some of its price tag, the 50 sits as the entry model e-tron, around $30,000 less than the 55 and $50,000 less than the new 55 S Sportback, that missing 5 doesn’t seem so bad now does it.

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

My review e-tron 50 came not quite fully charged so for several reasons I headed straight to the Vector fast-charger in the city to ‘fill up’. I had time to kill before my next meeting, I had a long weekend to test it out and didn’t want to spend extra time charging and I also felt sure there would be a used LEAF driver I could annoy – sure enough there was ‘You do know charging over 80% is bad for the battery’ he informed me.

Half an hour later (it took less time to charge but it felt petty not to use my full time allocation) I was up to 100% and ready to rock and roll. Based on previous driving/drivers, my 50 had been consuming power at a rate of 33.8 kWh/100km so my full tank suggested I had 273km to play with, I unplugged the type 2 CCS and waved goodbye to my informative friend.

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

Admittedly I didn’t have any long trips away planned but that in turn meant that the poor EV had to fit into my families mundale way of life. We ‘chored’ all weekend, travelling to supermarkets, football games, malls, friends places and generally toodled about here, there and everywhere, using all the ‘toys’ that the e-tron had on offer. 

The cabin feels upmarket and well-connected, I know it should with a $119k price tag but there’s a lot of EVness to support the fee. The sports seats are supportive and comfy and the leather wheel is a good fit in the hands. The paddles adjust the regenerative brake force and, if used with forethought, reduces much of the need to push the footbrake, it’s an all round good Audi ride. But more importantly, how did the ‘lack’ of range stack up.

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

Figures wise, here’s how my weekend panned out. According to long-term memory, I spent a shade under three hours behind the wheel consuming power at 23.9 kWh/100km. I traveled 145.4 km at an average speed of 49km/h and I still had 119km of range left so 264km total, 9km off the vehicles initial prediction, but I did have AC on and stereo up loud, raised and lowered the suspension a fair bit via changing drive modes, did sprint tests and a variety of spirited drives. 

My question to those that are still here is do you know how much you really use your vehicle? How many kms did you do last year and how much of that was on a longer run of nearly 300kms before stopping. Personally, I felt we’d used Audi New Zealand’s ‘lite’ e-tron 50 a lot over the weekend but the reality was somewhat different. It did everything required of it and then some but still had over 100kms left to go – and that’s without having the benefit of charging at home, something 95% of EV owners do (obviously not used LEAF owners).

Audi e-tron 50 review NZ

Yes it’s lighter in range than the 55 but you can go a long way with $30-50,000 in the bank, sometimes it pays to travel lite.

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