Electrifyingly fun to drive: the Audi e-tron

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Electrification visualized: the exterior design

Typically for one of the brand’s SUV models, the Audi e-tron bears the octagonal-design Singleframe grille with vertical struts. Its corpus is largely enclosed and presented in platinum gray – identifying it as a fully electric model. At the lower edge of the Matrix LED headlights, four horizontal struts create the e-tron-specific signature in the daytime running lights. For the first time this is integrated directly into the headlights – another exclusive design feature for the all-electric drive system. Light is used as a core design feature.

The wrap-around shoulder line is an important design element in the side view. It extends from the headlights, along the flanks, to the rear lights, giving the Audi e-tron a low visual center of gravity. The roof stretches low across the muscular body, which displays clear SUV attributes with its brawny D-pillars and the underbody protection. The quattro blisters over the wheels hint at the electric all-wheel drive. The sill area is boldly contoured and visualizes with the black inserts on the door trim the location of the battery and thus the energy center of the Audi e-tron.

At the sculpted rear end, the long roof edge spoiler and the wide diffuser emphasize the horizontal and thus the sporty character of the electric-powered SUV. A light strip – a typical feature of Audi’s top models – connects the LED rear lights. With their horizontal emphasis and segmented appearance, the tail lights echo the graphics of the daytime running lights. Transverse louvers on the sides of the diffuser draw attention to the lack of exhaust pipes, once again spotlighting the all-electric drive system. At market launch the electric SUV will be available in a choice of ten colors, including the exclusive shade Antigua blue.

Progressive elegance: the driver’s area

The interior of the Audi e-tron stands for performance, intelligence and lightness – attributes that are manifested in an array of details. Design and technology are fused into one. A generous arc, the wraparound, envelops the cascading instrument panel with pronounced horizontal lines as far round as the sculptural door trims. It harmoniously integrates the hood above the Audi virtual cockpit, whose sleek display stands visually free in space, as well as the displays of the optional virtual exterior mirrors. These mirrors are used for the first time in a volume-production automobile in the Audi e-tron, taking in-car digitization to a whole new level.

The entire driver’s area has a driver bias, and the two MMI touch response displays are angled in the driver’s direction. When off, the upper one blends almost invisibly into the large black-panel surface. In clear contrast, the lower display is incorporated into the broad center console. Options include the multifunction buttons on its edge and the control element for the lighting functions in black-panel design with touch response technology.

Both touch displays present all images and information on a black background. Generally the graphical user interfaces have been deliberately reduced and clearly structured so that the information can be assimilated quickly. All pictograms are precisely dimensioned, a few subtly animated.

The centre tunnel console rests on open sidewalls, which lend it the feel of a light, sleek sculpture. In addition to a stowage compartment, it also incorporates cup holders as well as the optional Audi phone box. This layout combines lightness with functionality. The hand rest appears to float above the console. It incorporates the shifter and the function for the electronic parking brake.

Relaxed atmosphere: aeroacoustics and soundproofing

With its combination of electric drive and a comfortable, sophisticated interior, the Audi e-tron creates a new sense of mobility. Especially when driving in the city, it radiates an almost perfect sense of calm. The only sounds are from its tires and the gentle hum of the electric motors. The acoustic comfort is one of the strengths of all Audi models – the Audi e-tron raises this level even further and, as such, offers outstanding long-distance comfort.

The body, which was specifically optimised in terms of vibration and noise comfort, provides the necessary foundation for the tranquil cabin. Those areas where forces are channeled into the body, particularly the connection of the axles, play an important role: Due to their high local rigidity they are resistant to excitations from the assemblies and the road.

To reduce structure-borne and air-borne noise effectively, the engineers in the Audi e-tron employ a mixture of absorbent and insulating materials. Design-related openings and cavities within the body are sealed and filled systematically. For instance, the wheel arches were lined with sound-absorbing material in the direct vicinity of the wheel. Relevant areas are also coated with a special material, thus reducing the vibration of the metal sheets.

The second important factor for the relaxed atmosphere in the Audi e-tron is the highly developed aeroacoustics. As a rule, the wind noise becomes the overriding component in any car from a speed of 85 km/h (52.8 mph). With the Audi e-tron, however, intensive finishing touches on door seals, exterior mirrors and water-catching strips mean that the noise remains very low and barely reaches the occupants.