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New kid on the engine-less block

The e-tron electric sport utility vehicle is now on sale here, with more battery-powered Audis on the way.


Auckland, New Zealand

DON'T expect to see much under the bonnet of the Audi e-tron, if you poke around one at the Singapore Motorshow this weekend, where it's making its debut. That's because it's electric, so there's no engine block, intake manifold or what-not to be found.

The S$367,500 (inclusive of Certificate Of Entitlement) sport utility vehicle is a significant car for Audi, given that it's the brand's first electric vehicle (EV) for the general public. The "e-tron" name has adorned a number of electric concept cars and prototypes over the past decade, but this particular e-tron SUV marks the start of Audi's big move towards electrification.

Mind you, EVs aren't new. They're just new to Singapore. So it's unsurprising that, after driving it around the outskirts of Auckland, I found the e-tron fairly unassuming. The styling is nondescript, and the only unique design traits on the e-tron are the optional external door cameras, which replace regular wing mirrors with high-definition displays inside the cabin.

It has the snappy, instant acceleration for which EVs are famed, as well as the eerie low-speed silence, but otherwise the e-tron is very much like any other medium SUV, with plenty of space for five occupants and their luggage for a road trip.

Audi claims a range of 385km for the e-tron on a full charge, which is plenty enough for most drivers here, even those planning to drive halfway up Peninsular Malaysia.

EVs can also recoup energy through coasting and braking, and the e-tron is no different, offering the chance to add up to 30 per cent more range this way. That makes for a fun game you can play with yourself behind the wheel, because what true Singaporean can resist getting something (in this case, extra distance) for free?

Anyway, with some careful driving you theoretically have more than enough in the tank - sorry, the battery - for a week's motoring. Audi claims that the e-tron can be recharged to 80 per cent capacity in just half an hour using a 150kW direct current (DC) fast charger.

But you might not even have to bother. For S$10,000, e-tron buyers can have a wallbox charger installed, or subscribe to a charging-on-demand service for a year. Think of the latter as a fancy EV concierge service. A man from Audi will take your e-tron away and bring it back with a full battery.

Even if you do top up the Audi's batteries yourself, there won't be a shortage of options available, given that there are already plans to massively expand the public charging network islandwide. National grid operator SP Group will have 1,000 charging points in Singapore by the end of this year, while car-sharing firm BlueSG will also open up 200 of its own charging points for public use.

At Audi, the EV floodgates are opening, too. Later this year Audi will add the e-tron Sportback, a swoopier and sportier-looking version of the e-tron SUV, to its line-up. Then comes the e-tron GT, a sleek four-door grand tourer that's based on corporate cousin Porsche's very first electric sports car, the Taycan.

In 2021, Audi's EV line-up will be further bolstered with the Q4 e-tron, essentially a downsized version of the e-tron you see here. Even Audi Sport, the high performance division responsible for Audi's tyre-smoking RS cars, is planning its very own battery-electric models, with an R8 e-tron supercar possibly on the cards.

Let the EV charge - and the charging - begin.

Audi e-tron 55 quattro

Electric Motor 335hp, 561Nm
Battery/Capacity Lithium ion, 95kWh
Charge Time/Type 30mins (80%)/150kW DC charge
Electric Range 385km
0-100km/h 6.6 seconds
Top Speed 200km/h (electronically limited)
Efficiency 25.1kWh/100km
Agent Premium Automobiles
Price S$367,500 with COE
Available Now