WATCH | What it's like driving Audi's electric e-tron 55 SUV ahead of its SA launch in 2022

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• Audi's new e-tron family will launch in South Africa in 2022.

• Ahead of the launch, we spent time behind the wheel of the e-tron 55 S line.

• The e-tron is Audi's first all-electric SUV.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24

South Africa is waiting in anticipation for 'early 2022' when Audi will launch its all-electric family. When it happens, the e-tron range will be the youngest all-electric offering in the country, and also the broadest. The offering will include the e-tron, e-tron Sportback, and e-tron GT.

Wheels24 recently had the opportunity to drive the e-tron 55 Quattro S line as part of Audi's pre-launch experience. As the entry to the range, the e-tron 55 is the first introduction prospective clients will make with this offering and thus has to make a bold statement. It gets off to a good start with a 1 629mm height, 4 901mm length, and 2 0143mm width (side 'mirrors' included).

The size places the e-tron between the Q5 and Q7, leaving it with ample room for five passengers and their luggage. And speaking of the loading area, Audi claims a good 660 litres of boot space with the rear bench in the upright position. When it goes on sale in 2022, the e-tron 55 Quattro S line will retail for R2 045 000, with a five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan and an eight-year or 160 000km battery warranty as standard.

Familiar interior

Audi has always been a leader in vehicle interiors, and the latest iteration of its interior design is by far the most intuitive. But unlike electric vehicles (EVs) by other automakers, Audi opted to keep the interior of its e-tron line-up familiar and in line with the rest of its portfolio.

The screens on the centre console, the buttons on the steering wheel, and the general layout of the dials and menus are all a familiar sight. It works a charm and does not create a sense of being lost in something meant for the future.

But the interior is not entirely devoid of fancy tricks and gadgets. The gear lever, for instance, has a nice feel to it and heralds a new era for Audi. Owners can opt for the new (optional) phone box in the storage bin between the front seats, and virtual units have replaced the side mirrors. These virtual mirrors are cameras that send an image back into the car. Not only that, but they also warn you when there is an object or another vehicle in your blind spot and when it is clear to change lanes when indicating to do so.

Audi e-tron
2022 Audi e-tron 55 Quattro S line

That instant torque

The e-tron is powered by a 95kWh battery that sends power to all four wheels. Engage 'Dynamic' driving mode before laying on the throttle, and the e-tron 55 launches off the line with assertiveness. The kick of torque is instant and rather addictive. Of course, you must enjoy the 5.7 second run from standstill to 100km/h in silence, but it remains astonishing how quickly the digital speedometer increases numbers.

The electric battery produces 300kW and 664Nm, allowing the e-tron 55 to dish up an effortless drive. The SUV's driving range is rated at between 369 - 440km. Given that charging stations on the outskirts of Cape Town are not as generously available as in the CBD region, we spent most of our days in Eco mode. Not only did it preserve driving range, but it also proved to be ample enough for one's daily requirements.

With the e-tron range set for a local debut early next year, the German automaker's local arm is ready for the next phase.

Sascha Sauer, Head of Audi South Africa, said: "Not only are we aligned with the importance of sustainability, but we have the technology, performance and design credentials within our e-tron range, to offer our premium customers an all-electric drive that will inspire and excite.

"Announcing our electric vehicle range is a key part of our objective to have the youngest and freshest product offering in the market. We're excited to share more details with our customers on our electric journey over the next few months, leading up to the e-tron range's official model introduction in quarter one next year."

Engine line-up and pricing

  • e-tron 55 advanced               - R1 990 000
  • e-tron 55 S line                     - R2 045 000
  • e-tron 55 Sportback S line     - R2 115 000
  • e-tron S Sportback                - R2 425 000
  • e-tron GT                             - R2 715 000
  • RS e-tron GT                        - R3 300 000
Audi e-Tron
2022 RS e-tron GT
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