What Is It?
Electric vehicles comprise a small percentage of total vehicles sales in America, but that portion continues to grow every year. One of the first premium EV SUV offerings was the Audi e-tron, which is now available as a sleeker Sportback. Although the number of competitors has increased in the last few years, the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback still stands out with decent performance, stylish lines, an attractive, high-tech cockpit and great everyday drivability.
Audi provided us with a 2020 e-tron Sportback Premium Plus painted in Manhattan Gray metallic. Well equipped with standard features, this e-tron’s only options were an interior protection kit and rear side thorax airbags for a total MSRP of $80,075. Competitors to the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback include the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-PACE, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4.
The e-tron Sportback wears the familiar Audi Singleframe grille; however, the vertical bars and lack of openings for airflow distinguishes the e-tron from non-electric models in the Audi lineup. Four horizontal LED bars below the headlights add further distinction to the e-tron.
With a roofline that slopes steeply to the rear lip spoiler, the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback features lines similar to the A7. Standard-equipment, 20-inch Turbine design wheels add to the overall sporty look of the e-tron.
The 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback gets motivation from two potent electric motors — one powering each axle — creating a new generation of quattro electric all-wheel drive. Total output is 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque; however, when the driver selects Boost Mode power increases to 414 horses and 490 lb-ft of torque — enough power to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds (in Boost Mode) or tow up to 4,000 pounds.
Power comes from a 95 kWh battery pack built into a protective honeycomb structure that sits low in the e-tron for better weight distribution and a low center of gravity — both of which improve overall handling. This unique Audi-developed battery is designed to use 91 percent of its total capacity with optimized longevity.
Range and Charging
According to the U.S. EPA, the 2020 Audi e-tron has a range of 218 miles, and with a 150 kW high-speed charger it can add about 60 miles in 10 minutes. Of course range varies depending on driving style and other factors. During our test drive the e-tron displayed 190 miles of range after a full charge. With a Level 2 home charger, the e-tron takes about 9 hours for a full charge, so it’ possible to wake up every morning to a fully charged vehicle.
With multiple digital displays and practically no physical buttons, the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback’s interior feels comfortably high tech. The main display screen integrates well with the dashboard and features large, easy-to-use icons that provide haptic response; selections feel like presses of a button. Climate control functions and other menu items can be found on the secondary display below the dashboard. With practically everything controlled via voice or electronic display, the e-tron feels incredibly high tech, although we were pleased to see a volume knob for the audio system in the center console.
The Audi Virtual Cockpit employs a third display screen as a completely configurable driver display.
Call it cases over re-engineering — it seems as if every car company must reinvent the wheel — in this case the gear selector. The 2020 Audi e-tron features a unique selector that slides forward or back with a push-button for Park, and thankfully it is very intuitive. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with occasionally reinventing the wheel.
The rear seat of the 2020 Audi e-tron is comfortable — the aft space has decent legroom, and even though the roof slopes steeply downward at the rear it doesn’t impinge on much headroom.
Multiple USB ports are available for rear-seat passengers, and a digital display provides complete control over the dual-zone rear climate systems.
A spacious rear cargo area provides additional utility to the e-tron’s everyday usability. Owners can easily fit multiple pieces of luggage or other cargo, and rear seats easily fold flat for larger items. A hard cover keeps nosy passersby from seeing the contents stored in back.
As with other EVs, Audi’s e-tron features a small storage space up front under the hood. Although the space is not large, it does provide a convenient space for storing the charge cord or other small items.
On the Road
Most electric vehicles feel quick off the line thanks to the torquey nature of electric motors. That said, we are a bit disappointed that the 2020 Audi e-Tron Sportback doesn’t provide that same thrill of acceleration. The e-tron is more subtle with its power; it may not accelerate quickly, although once it gets moving the smooth, quiet ride hides the fact that speed does not build quickly.
As with other Audis we’ve driven, the e-tron lets pilots select a drive mode for their current needs. Our favorite mode has to be Dynamic — not only does this mode boost output to maximum horsepower and torque, it also lowers the suspension for improved driving dynamics. And while the e-tron may not be as quick off the line as anticipated, its excellent grip and precise steering makes the vehicle enjoyable on winding back roads.
As more electric vehicles come to market, the novelty of an EV becomes less of a selling point. Thankfully with the 2020 Audi e-tron the EV powertrain is not the whole story. In addition to its smooth, efficient and powerful operation, the e-tron offers a stylish exterior design and an interior that feels comfortable as well as high tech. With its useable range, excellent drivabilty and quick charging, the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback makes a great argument for using this premium EV as an everyday driver.