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Saturday - 5 December 2020

Future value guaranteed – Audi e-tron Sportback launch

In short, the ramifications of not getting our emissions and gasses under control are catastrophic, both for the planet we live on and (if that’s not enough) financially. Sustainability is the key and it’s something that car maker Audi is very serious about. But at the launch of their new e-tron Sportback, Audi New Zealand showed us that saving the planet can be fun too.

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

Renewable energy sources, hyper-fast charging stations, wind farms, a sustainable living retreat, a luxury/sporty vehicle and zero emissions, you could say that the launch of the new Audi e-tron Sportback did nothing but add to both the enjoyment of driving experience and the environment.

Globally, the brand has been investing in state of the art manufacturing facilities that are fully sustainable from a strategy mindset, through products and materials to the staff. Their mission zero objective is for all plants to be carbon neutral by 2025 (that’s closer than you think) and have already sold 18,000 BEV models somewhere on this big blue planet in the first six months of this year.

As far as New Zealand goes, Audi’s e-tron project is now in its fifth year and they have been busy with everything from infrastructure partnerships to helping to turn homes into service stations. And that my friends is the point. Research shows that 95% of EV owners charge their vehicles in the privacy of their own home, so when it comes to charging infrastructure, you need look no further than your wall plug – ok there’s a little more to it than that but you get the point.

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

The e-tron Sportback is the third in the current range of e-tron SUVs, the 55 and 50 being the others. From the front it’s hard to tell them apart EV specific single frame grille and all, but being the sportier Sportback, there’s S-line trimmings and it sits 13mm lower. It’s the most aerodynamic in the range too (cd 0.25 – providing you go for the virtual door mirrors) and of course, it slopes down rapidly from the D-pillar to the tail, I prefer this more coupe styling. 

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

Although the luggage space is slightly smaller (-45L) it’s still got 615L that opens up to 1665L with seats folded flat and seriously how much luggage are you planning on taking away? And the rear headroom boasts 976mm which is apparently enough for a 6’4” person to sit comfortably – I should be just fine.

It has two electric motors that offer 300kW of power in overboost and will take this big, sporty SUV from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds, plus the latest and greatest in Audi’s energy regen system.

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

Now onto everyone’s favourite EV topic range. Audi NZ say that the 55 Sportback will give you 446km of real world range and as that’s where we live, let’s go with that. I have just driven the 50 and can attest that their figures are on the money. Anyway, EV range came up alot during the launch from both Audi and the rottweiler journalists and Audi went out of their way to explain, using a smartphone as an analogy.

Hands up how many of you regularly (more often than not) run your phone FLAT and then charge to 100%? Exactly, we don’t. At any given opportunity we plug in and top up, keeping plenty of charge and thus plenty of social media posts. 

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

From an Audi EV point of view, it’s the same, regular topping up is the key and 80% is the magic figure, that’s where it charges to the quickest and the last 20% is like force feeding air into a balloon (without the pop) it’s tougher, temperature rises and things get uncomfortable, by the way this 80% figure is lower on other vehicles, Google it afterwards.

Now not only does topping up at home eliminate spontaneous chocolate bar purchases but it’s more convenient and cheaper. Audi say it’s around $0.30c a litre equivalent and that you get around 36km of range per 1 hour of charge, which, according to research, is just a shade under the average NZers daily commute.

But what if I plan to do a spirited long drive away for the day? I hear you ask, well Audi NZ devised a plan for us to do just that, an e-tron Sportback convoy from Giltrap Audi in Auckland to Glasshouse at Block 295 in Raglan for a spot of lunch and back – no horses were spared (figuratively).

The 350+km distance would obviously be heading towards the advertised range of the e-tron especially when you add in journalists that could do with skipping the aforementioned lunch (and a few more) and that enjoy the right footed pedal, to compensate, Audi had us Hyper-charge for 15 minutes at the Bombays thanks to Charge-Net’s new 300kW chargers (although the e-tron won’t take 300kW). 

Anyway fully charged, we took the scenic route to the coastal town and even in the rain, managed to comfortably maintain national speed limits while sitting on heated seats and snacking on treats. It feels like a heavy vehicle but boy can it move, we barely saw the Te Uku Wind as we passed, just saying.

The Glasshouse is perched on the side of Raglan’s Mt Karioi with breath-taking views of the world renowned surfer’s playground. It’s owners have immersed the property in sustainable living and offer it up as a sanctuary for those that want to get away from the hustle and bustle, watching the sun go down as they recharge.

With lunch consumed (along with the new EVs details) we headed back to our cars and back to Auckland. As it turned out, the clever tech in the e-tron advised us that it would be touch and go to make it all the way back, but Audi had already planned for another 15-minute Bombay top up on the way and we arrived back with around 20% to spare.

EVs require a mindset change from our current ‘run until empty and refill to brim’ fossil fuel head to a more continual plug in and top up, smartphone approach. The e-tron itself is more Apple X24 in terms of smartness and price rather than a burner and although it’s at this point should instil the virtues and cost savings of switching to a BEV I feel that it’s something you’ll need to discover for yourself.

There’s very little doubt that the future is electric and with Audi to launch EV supercars such as the S and GT, the prospect is mouthwatering, but the e-tron Sportback that’s right here, right now is a cracker of a vehicle.

Audi e-tron sportback review NZ

Audi New Zealand say that they have 100 reasons to buy an e-tron but maybe you only need one – and that’s a future. Zero emissions should be in your ‘future’, Audi offers guaranteed ‘future’ value and all joking aside, a ‘future’ for the planet seems like a good idea too.

Dave McLeodhttps://www.tarmaclife.co.nz
New Zealand motoring editor/journalist and published author. Besotted with cars and the experiences they give. I'm a family guy with a bark that's bigger than my bite and prefer football over rugby any day of any week.

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