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Driving the Audi E-tron Concept

  • Written by  Kim Reynolds
Audi e-tron Concept Audi e-tron Concept

We were gliding down a short section of Pacific Coast Highway -- temporarily closed for us by the Highway Patrol, no less -- in Audi's wild, battery-electric e-tron show car, when its German engineer sitting next to me leaned over and asked the pay-dirt question: "So what do you think?"

I nailed the accelerator again to judge its acceleration (officially quoted as 4.8 seconds to 62 mph). Felt the brake pedal once more for any wobbliness in its transition from regen to friction braking (none that I could detect). And considered its other key EV attribute -- a range of 154 miles per charge -- and replied "I'm impressed. This is a beautiful automobile. Gorgeous in fact. But...you know, I just got out of a production Tesla Roadster Sport that hits 60-mph a full second quicker and easily travels 200 miles on a full battery." The long look I gave him punctuated my point.

The engineer was quiet -- but didn't look worried either. This is a concept car, remember, and it's hard to believe that Audi -- who have already shaken the supercar status quo to its core with its brilliant R8 -- won't be considerably dialing-up the e-tron's crucial EV-parameters prior to its limited run of 1000 units. And that shouldn't be much of a problem if the raw ingredients they'll be working with are anything like this prototype's. To wit: The e-tron's skeleton is a revision of the R8's aluminum space frame, cloaked in a stunningly-designed composite R8-inspired skin, but with its wheelbase truncated by 2.0 inches and height trimmed by 0.8 inches. Its four AC electric motors (the rears being the more powerful) offer a total of 313 horsepower, with torque nominally biased at a sporty 30% front, 70% rear split. Moreover, this all-electric incarnation of Audi all-wheel-drive represents a profound re-think of the very potential of 'Quattro'. Imagine: Power can be redistributed essentially immediately, aiding not only stability, but opening doors to all manner of wild, extreme handling strategies. Tesla-like is its liquid-cooled, 400-volt lithium-ion (cylindrical-cell) battery pack, as well as its charge times when connected to 240-volt sources (recharging can drop to as low as low as 2.5 hours when an extreme 400 volts and 63 amps are available).

By Kim Reynolds

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Last modified on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 20:27

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