Inside, a tiny reduction in rear head room aside, the Sportback is pure Audi at its plushest. I’d rather the ventilation controls weren’t touchscreen but at least the feedback is haptic and the buttons big. And the large upper screen, while also touchy, is logical.
Fit, finish and feel are otherwise seriously good. It’s £80k, after all. The driving position is semi-tall, easy to slip in and out of at a crossover sort of height. The E-tron doesn’t sit on a bespoke electric platform, so open the bonnet – which requires a pull on an old-fashioned, near-your-feet bonnet release – and while it’s a sensible enough place to keep charge cables, there’s no room for anything else. There’s nothing radical in feel, then. The combusted-Audi familiarity is broken instead by the silence.
This is a really quiet car, even by some EV standards, with impressive road and wind noise isolation, of the sort that can have even experienced drivers checking the speedometer. (Is reduced noise why, I wonder, you see so many luxury EVs doing about a million miles an hour on the motorway?)
Throttle response is soft but linear and the car coasts quite easily on lift-off, a deceleration rate you can adjust with a pull on the steering wheel paddles, although you can’t raise the regen braking sufficiently for one-pedal driving.
The upshot of a big battery, a platform that wasn’t designed around being a specific EV, and such strong noise suppression is that the E-tron is a seriously heavy car. At 2520kg, its official kerb weight is 30kg heavier than the SUV variant’s – and we weighed one of those at 2569kg on our scales. So let’s call it 2.6 tonnes, which is pretty ridiculous.
Given that, the Audi drives rather well. A heavy body – and big EVs have them – generally provides a smooth ride but also loose body control when you do get the weight shifting around. Some car makers try to tie those movements down, undoing the inherent smoothness at the same time.