Browse over 9,000 car reviews

    Audi e-tron 2022 review: Sportback 55 First Edition long-term

    The e-tron Sportback an unashamedly expensive large SUV with genuinely premium ambitions. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Current Offers Book a Test Drive Find a Dealer

    It’s the burning question most motorists seem to have: what is it really like to live with an electric vehicle (EV)?

    Here at CarsGuide, we get to sample most new EVs, but the average amount of time we spend with each one is a week. As far as extended test drives go, that’s pretty damn good – but it’s also not indicative of long-term ownership.

    Which brings me to my second long-term review of an EV. The first time around, News Editor Tung Nguyen and I shared a Nissan Leaf for six months, but in this instance, I’ll be living with an Audi e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition for half that time.

    Of course, the Leaf and e-tron Sportback are quite different on paper, with the former a relatively affordable small hatchback in the mainstream segment, while the latter is an unashamedly expensive large SUV with genuinely premium ambitions.

    So, will the e-tron Sportback seamlessly fit into my life? Or to be more specific, will the charging experience be acceptable – especially with my lack of home charging options – or will it be a bitter pill to swallow? Read on to find out.

    Part 1: August/September 2021

    First things first, the e-tron Sportback you see here is a 55 First Edition, which was aptly part of the large SUV’s MY20 launch line-up that’s been superseded since arriving in September 2020. Limited to 70 units, it was priced from $169,950 plus on-road costs.

    The e-tron Sportback you see here is a 55 First Edition, which is priced from $169,950 plus on-road costs. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The e-tron Sportback you see here is a 55 First Edition, which is priced from $169,950 plus on-road costs. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Rivals for the e-tron Sportback are currently few and far between, but the Tesla Model X (from $189,159) is a formidable foe, while the BMW iX (from $135,900) is due in the first quarter of 2022, and the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV is yet to be revealed.

    But you’re probably wondering why we’re testing the 55 First Edition instead of a MY22 e-tron Sportback, and the simple answer is this is the vehicle Audi Australia was able to supply to us in Melbourne.

    If you’re keen on a MY22 e-tron Sportback 55 after reading this long-term review, it costs $157,100 (at the time of writing), although you’d have to option it up to come close to matching the specification of the First Edition – if that’s what you’re after.

    Speaking of standard equipment, let’s kick this long-term review off by exploring what e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition buyers received for their money.

    In fact, let’s get straight to the point: the First Edition – and every other e-tron Sportback 55 – comes with a liquid-cooled 95kWh lithium-ion battery offering a solid 446km of WLTP-certified range. For reference, the entry-level 50 (from $148,100) has a 71kWh unit that lasts 347km.

    Needless to say, the smart money is on the 55 flagship, with its $9000 premium arguably worth it to ease any range anxiety. Better yet, its dual-motor powertrain develops a more promising 300kW of power and 664Nm of torque, compared to the 50’s 230kW/540Nm.

    The Audi e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition's dual-motor powertrain develops a promising 300kW of power and 664Nm of torque. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The Audi e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition's dual-motor powertrain develops a promising 300kW of power and 664Nm of torque. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Either way, a version of Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system is fitted, with the 55 able to use overboost (activated by putting the single-speed automatic transmission in Sport) to sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, with the 50 left 1.1s behind.

    But we digress… because you no doubt want to hear more about the 55’s range, particularly in the real world, as well as what it’s like to charge.

    Before we get into all that, I have an important confession to make. I’ve been living in locked-down metropolitan Melbourne since we collected the First Edition from the Audi Brighton service centre.

    That means I haven’t been able to travel outside of my 5.0km radius in the first month of ‘ownership’ – excluding the time I drove to the other side of town to get my first COVID-19 vaccination.

    Point being, I only travelled 184km in my first four weeks with the 55. And no, that’s not a misprint. Here’s hoping for a more productive second month, although my hopes aren’t particularly high…

    I don’t have any home charging options so had to turn to public charging options. (Image: Justin Hilliard) I don’t have any home charging options so had to turn to public charging options. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    It goes without saying, then, that I haven’t really had a need to charge the First Edition so far, although I made a point of doing so for this instalment of the long-term review.

    Again, I don’t have any home charging options due to living in an apartment building with a dedicated parking spot that doesn’t have a power outlet nearby.

    I, therefore, have had to turn to public charging options, and thankfully for me, I live just 600m from a 50kW DC fast charger (with the required CCS plug type) that’s free to use.

    It’s operated by ChargePoint, which has an app that conveniently shows availability.

    In my shared Leaf long-term review, my struggles with this particular 50kW DC fast charger were well-documented, but ChargePoint seems to have addressed its reliability issues since then, as the charging process was relatively pain-free this time around.

    The e-tron requires a CCS plug. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The e-tron requires a CCS plug. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    I went for a nice long walk while the 55 was juicing up, with its battery capacity sitting at 28 per cent when the charge started. When I returned, I realised it hadn’t charged past 80 per cent, so I can’t tell you how long it took.

    Apparently, ChargePoint has software-locked that 50kW DC fast charger to not give users their final 20 per cent of charge, likely due to the related parking spot being time-limited to just one hour. A slightly disappointing outcome, but good to know for next time.

    When it came to the First Edition’s energy consumption for the first month, it averaged 30.8kWh/100km, which is well above the claimed 22.7kWh/100km. For reference, that equates to just 308km of range from a full battery.

    My (very) short, sharp trips to the shops and back were no doubt a factor in the poor result, so we’ll reserve full judgement for later on, when I should be able to drive the 55 in a more regular manner.

    That said, one of the genuine perks of owning an EV is their longer service intervals, with the e-tron Sportback only requiring servicing every 24 months or 30,000km.

    And to sweeten the deal even further, Audi Australia covers the first three visits to an authorised service centre and throws in six years of roadside assistance.

    Along with the free six-year ‘unlimited’ membership to Australia’s largest EV charging network, Chargefox, that’s one compelling aftersales package – and so it should be at this price point, frankly.

    However, disappointingly the e-tron Sportback still comes with Audi Australia’s regular three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, even if the battery is covered by a separate eight-year/160,000km term.

    The First Edition is very comfortable thanks to its air suspension’s low-speed prowess, even with the 21-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The First Edition is very comfortable thanks to its air suspension’s low-speed prowess, even with the 21-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    I’ll discuss the 55’s practicality and how it drives (including the performance of its advanced driver-assist systems) in detail in the next two parts of this long-term review, but in this instalment, I’d like to bring attention to just how lovely it is around town.

    Being an EV, the First Edition is near silent in its operation, but it’s also very comfortable thanks to its air suspension’s low-speed prowess (even with the 21-inch alloy wheels) and its electric power steering’s light tune.

    The 55 also has plenty of get up and go for those short bursts of acceleration in city traffic, with that instantaneous 664Nm wad of torque capable of shoving its occupants into their seats time and time again. I just wish there was a ‘one-pedal’ regenerative braking setting.

    The cabin is also a wonderful place to spend time, feeling genuinely premium thanks to the First Edition’s pumping 705W Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, supple Valcona leather upholstery, aluminium trim and sporty Alcantara door inserts.

    The cabin is a wonderful place to spend time, feeling genuinely premium. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The cabin is a wonderful place to spend time, feeling genuinely premium. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    And then there’s the 55’s 10.1- and 8.6-inch touchscreens with haptic feedback, which actually work pretty well, with the centre stack’s lower display wisely dedicated to the climate controls, while the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is predictably brilliant.

    Yep, it’s been a pretty good overall experience so far, but one of my few gripes is arguably the First Edition’s big party trick, the ‘digital’ side mirrors. No, your eyes do not deceive you, there are no traditional side mirrors to be seen here.

    The 55 has10.1- and 8.6-inch touchscreens with haptic feedback. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The 55 has10.1- and 8.6-inch touchscreens with haptic feedback. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Instead, the two aerodynamically friendly stalks are fitted with high-quality cameras that a send a live feed inside to a pair of 7.0-inch OLED touchscreens positioned in the top corners of the front doors.

    The set-up feels very unnatural at first and doesn’t really get much better after that as the driver (and passengers) place a lot of trust in the adjustable view they’re given. And you also lose most of your peripheral vision as you must look down instead of just across. Strange.

    The ‘digital’ side mirrors are aerodynamically friendly stalks are fitted with high-quality cameras that a send a live feed inside to a pair of 7.0-inch OLED touchscreens. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The ‘digital’ side mirrors are aerodynamically friendly stalks are fitted with high-quality cameras that a send a live feed inside to a pair of 7.0-inch OLED touchscreens. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Hopefully, the digital side mirrors become second nature over a longer period of time – I’ll see you next month to find out.

    Acquired: August 2021

    Distance travelled this month: 184km

    Odometer: 6491km

    Average energy consumption for August/September: 30.8kWh/100km

    Part 2: September/October 2021

    I’ve now spent two months with the e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition, but lockdown is still a thing here in Melbourne, so my movements have again been severely limited.

    That said, since the first instalment of this long-term review, my radius quickly expanded from 5.0km to 10.0km and then to 15.0km, so I’ve had three times the area to cover in the e-tron Sportback.

    I’ve now spent two months with the e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition. (Image: Justin Hilliard) I’ve now spent two months with the e-tron Sportback 55 First Edition. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    However, I only managed to travel 246km in the past month, which, while a welcome 62km improvement over my previous effort, was still a far cry from ‘normal.'

    And with lockdown now set to ‘fully’ lift on the day the 55 is due to be returned to Audi Australia, I’m afraid my third and final month of ownership isn’t going to be better again.

    With that out of the way, what was the average energy consumption in my second month with the e-tron Sportback? Well, it was pleasingly 2.6kWh/100km better than the first time around, at 28.2kWh/100km, thanks to a better balance of driving conditions.

    That return equates to 337km from a full battery, which is a 29km improvement over last time and a good chunk closer to the 55’s WLTP-certified 446km in between charges.

    Again, an even better real-world result can be expected over longer journeys with less stop-start traffic, a feat I’m yet to regularly achieve since taking delivery. Fingers crossed that changes.

    I’m keen to head to the country next month so I can use a DC fast charger that can output at least 150kW. (Image: Justin Hilliard) I’m keen to head to the country next month so I can use a DC fast charger that can output at least 150kW. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    As far as charging is concerned, it was a similar story to the first instalment, with the e-tron Sportback only requiring one charge at the nearby 50kW DC fast charger for the month.

    This time around, the 55’s battery capacity started at 10 per cent and took 80 minutes to reach 80 per cent, at which point the aforementioned software lock prevented it from going any further.

    Lockdown permitting, I’m keen to head to the country next month so I can use a DC fast charger that can output at least 150kW, which is the maximum supported by the e-tron Sportback. It should cut the 0-80 per cent charging time to less than 30 minutes.

    A nice trip out of the urban jungle would also give me the opportunity to see how the 55 stacks up not only at high speed, but also on winding roads, because up until this point, I can still only comment on how it goes around town (see first instalment).

    Which is why I’m now going to go into detail about what the e-tron Sportback’s like to live with from a practicality (read: static) point of view, so strap in.

    First things first, the e-tron Sportback is the ‘coupe’ version of the e-tron wagon, so it has an on-trend sloping roofline that, in this instance, makes it the better looking of two – according to me, anyway.

    The boot has a very solid cargo capacity of 615L. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The boot has a very solid cargo capacity of 615L. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Of course, a focus on style usually comes at the cost of practicality in the SUV segment, and the e-tron Sportback is no different, although it’s still pretty damn good for a large model, let alone an EV with a sizable underfloor battery.

    For example, the boot has a very solid cargo capacity of 615L, which is just 45L short of the e-tron wagon. Stow the spilt-fold rear bench and its cavernous full volume is unlocked, but annoyingly the required manual release can only be used via the second row.

    Otherwise, there’s only a small load lip to contend with, so getting bulkier items in and out is a breeze. Four tie-down points and two side storage nets are on hand for securing loose loads, and a 12V power outlet is standing by for vacuuming duties.

    There’s an underfloor storage area, too, but it’s mainly taken up by the space-saver spare wheel, so you can’t do a lot with it. That said, the frunk (or ‘froot’) serves up another 60L, perfect for storing the onboard 11kW AC charger and the other electrical gubbins.

    Four tie-down points and two side storage nets are on hand for securing loose loads. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Four tie-down points and two side storage nets are on hand for securing loose loads. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    So, that’s all well and good, but the second row must be compromised, right? Well, the e-tron Sportback serves up another surprise, as its rear seating position is rather good for an EV, which usually have benches that are too high, leaving occupants squatting in situ.

    In fact, Audi’s placement of the 55’s 95kWh battery is masterful considering the e-tron Sportback isn’t based on a dedicated platform that takes into account an EV's unique packaging requirements.

    Further to that point, the central tunnel is tiny, so rear passengers aren’t left fighting for precious footwell space, even with three adults abreast, a feat that can be achieved in relative comfort on short journeys.

    Its rear seating position is rather good for an EV. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Its rear seating position is rather good for an EV. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    And yes, headroom for my 184cm (6'0") frame is still just passable, despite the e-tron Sportback’s swoopy design, while legroom behind my driving position is quite generous, at around six centimetres.

    Amenities-wise, second-row occupants have access to a fold-down armrest with a shallow tray and two cupholders, while the rear door bins can accommodate two regular bottles each.

    Second-row occupants have access to a fold-down armrest. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Second-row occupants have access to a fold-down armrest. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    The front seatbacks also have storage nets attached, while coat hooks are located on the B-pillars that also house directional air vents. They're in addition to those at the rear of the centre console, which features two USB-A ports and a 12V power outlet.

    If you have young kids, the rear bench has two ISOFIX and three top-tether anchorage points for child seats, and given the amount of room on offer in the second row, fitting them shouldn’t be too difficult, even with the e-tron Sportback’s reduced door apertures.

    Second row passengers get directional air vents. (Image: Justin Hilliard) Second row passengers get directional air vents. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    Moving to the first row, where the driver and front passenger are also treated well with supportive bucket seats, while both the glove box and driver-side cubby are on the larger side, going some way in making up for the centre console’s undersized storage bin.

    That said, ahead are two cupholders and a wireless smartphone charger, with the latter not only upright, but also fitted with a clip that handily helps keep devices in place.

    There are two cupholders and a wireless smartphone charger up front. (Image: Justin Hilliard) There are two cupholders and a wireless smartphone charger up front. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    In the same vicinity are two USB-A ports (where are the USB-C alternatives?), a 12V power outlet and SIM and SD card readers, while the front doors can accommodate two regular bottles apiece.

    Yep, when it comes to practicality, there’s a lot to like about the e-tron Sportback, although its reliance on four touchscreens and extensive use of gloss-black trim means you always need a microfibre cloth at the ready to get rid of any distracting fingerprints.

    If I had the choice between an e-tron Sportback with or without the digital side mirrors, I’d still go without because actual mirrors are arguably flawless in operation. (Image: Justin Hilliard) If I had the choice between an e-tron Sportback with or without the digital side mirrors, I’d still go without because actual mirrors are arguably flawless in operation. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    But before I finish this instalment, I’ve got one other important update to share with you: the digital side mirrors aren’t actually that bad to live with, after all. Yes, they’re undeniably gimmicky, but give them enough time and they become second nature.

    Don’t get me wrong, though; if I had the choice between an e-tron Sportback with or without the digital side mirrors, I’d still go without because actual mirrors are arguably flawless in operation. But if standing out from the crowd is your thing, you know what to do.

    The digital side mirrors aren’t actually that bad to live with. (Image: Justin Hilliard) The digital side mirrors aren’t actually that bad to live with. (Image: Justin Hilliard)

    As mentioned, next month will give me more time to assess how the 55 drives, so I look forward to going into detail about its straight-line performance, ride and handling then.

    In fact, all going well, I’ll also be putting together a farewell video review that covers the things I did and didn’t like over my three months of ownership, so stay tuned!
     

    Acquired: August 2021

    Distance travelled this month: 246km

    Odometer: 6737km

    Average energy consumption for September/October: 28.2kWh/100km

    Insurance Quote

    $169,950

    Based on new car retail price

    Audi E-tron

    Browse all 16

    Audi E-Trons

    listed for sale on Autotrader

    Autotrader A smarter way to trade auto
    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.