Audi e-tron Sportback – long-term review - Report No:4 2023 | Top Gear
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Saturday 23rd September
Long-term review

Audi e-tron Sportback – long-term review

£79,185 / £89,470 as tested / £1,020 PCM
Published: 09 Dec 2020


  • SPEC

    e-tron Sportback 55 quattro S-line

  • Range

    260 miles



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Audi e-tron vs the cold: winter in a £90k EV

The cold is not an electric vehicle's friend. As we delve into deep mid-winter, the challenges of running an EV when it's a bit brisk is dominating the experience. For clarity, in the cold we're struggling to get further than an indicated 170 miles of range, versus the official best-case claim of 240 miles.

Firstly the good stuff. No-one likes getting into a cold car with freezing leather seats, and if you’re a recalcitrant teenager on the way to school it hardly serves as much needed motivation to get moving first thing in the morning. Thankfully the e-tron has this covered. Merely open the connected car app on your phone (or ask Siri to do it) and you can tell the car to warm up midway through the latest argument with your teenager.

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Clever algorithms that probably know too much about your timings but make life easier also learn when you normally leave the house and suggest putting the heating on at regular departure times… which is nice. I went to school in a damp Renault 5 with steamed up windows which we had to chip the ice off, so it’s fair to say we have come a long way since I were a lad.

But the joy of the remote operation of heating and heated seats isn't foolproof. Forget to deploy your remote helper and the Audi (like many EVs) takes an age to warm up. The journey to school can therefore be more frosty than normal, in every meaning of the word.

Sadly teenagers aren’t the only things that object to the cold. So too do batteries. A cold snap not only means you’ll inevitably be using the climate control, heated seats and all the mod cons to keep warm, but in the background the batteries will be using charge to optimise the battery temperature. While the technology is improving, lithium-ion batteries are happiest between 60 and 80 degrees F (15-26C) so in short, if you find yourself wrapping up against the cold (or getting into your budgie smugglers in the summer) your battery will also be wishing it could execute a wardobe change to stay optimally warm.

To do this it uses energy and therefore reduces the range available. Running the e-tron through the winter means heavy use of the climate control. Combined with dark mornings and long winter evenings the lights are on permanently. Combined with the need for the batteries to warm themselves up, the range is suffering.

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That aside the big Audi remains a comfortable and connected place to travel. I say 'travel' because that’s what you do in it: get from A-B without ever truly enjoying or engaging with the proceedings. For many that’s all they require. Driving isn’t about enjoyment. It’s a function of getting from here to there with the minimal of fuss. But we at Top Gear hope for more, and so far we’re struggling to find it in the e-tron.

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