The Audi e-Tron Experience

September 17, 2020

The Audi e-Tron Experience: Real Life Testimonials

Sonja Meintsma’s Review

Upon starting my work at Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition (DMCC), I was met with a key challenge: how do I advocate for EVs when I’ve never driven one? For years, I have seen Teslas, LEAFs, and Bolts cruising around my neighborhood, but I didn’t personally know anyone who owned one. My struggling graduate student friends couldn’t afford one and I had been out of the country for years previously. The closest I had come was riding along in a Prius, a hybrid without a plug.

Luckily, within weeks of starting at DMCC, our staff had the opportunity to host a socially-distanced ride & drive event where we were showcasing three EVs: an Audi e-Tron SUV, a Kira Niro EV crossback, and a Tesla Model 3. Beyond that, I was given the chance to take the Audi e-Tron back to Colorado Springs for three days.

My dad owns an Audi Q7, so I have driven an Audi before and was able to draw a direct comparison between driving an Audi gas engine and an Audi electric. Of note; I hate driving my Dad’s Audi. It’s huge and bulky, the console system is completely unintelligible and non-intuitive, and it makes the most annoying beeping sounds anytime you are not in drive, for any reason. But the e-Tron, now that’s an Audi I’d be motivated to drive every day of my life!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when getting behind the wheel of the e-Tron. Having just experienced driving a Tesla Model 3, which is unlike any driving experience I’ve ever had, I wasn’t sure if the Audi would resemble this alien Tesla experience or be more similar to the feel of the Q7.

If I had to categorize it, I’d say it winds up somewhere in the middle. The dashboard and console are clean and reflect the changes in technology we’ve seen in recent years—with much of the system being on-screen. By my count, there are three screens in the Audi e-Tron, two for navigation (one in front of the driver, where the gas gauge is placed in a gas car), one that can be switched on and alternated between radio, phone, etc. while the third screen navigates the climate control, including the two built-in massage chairs for the driver and passenger seats (what a luxury!!)

Driving the Audi was a dream—it’s smooth, doesn’t feel bulky, given it’s size, and is so quiet. The drive from Denver to Colorado Springs—always a headache due to constant construction and traffic—was less aggravating for two significant factors: 1) my mental fatigue from thinking about all the GHGs I was putting into the atmosphere while bumper-to-bumper had disappeared! 2) once the freeway opened up, I was able to swiftly and quietly leave my traffic buddies behind, reaching 75 miles an hour in about 6 seconds. And let me tell you, even if you are not a speedster, that is a thrill!

The Audi has a regenerative braking system (check out a video on how that works here), but it is not strikingly noticeable when compared to the full effect of the Tesla regen brake. The car will slow infinitesimally when you take your foot off the gas, but not enough to bring you to a complete stop. Additionally, one of the coolest elements of driving down the mountains is being able to watch your car regain miles you lost on your ascent up the mountain. On our drive down North Cheyenne Mountain, we gained about eight miles back!

Aside from the thrill of watching my miles come back, driving in the mountains is a delightful experience because of the smooth and quick acceleration up steep hills. There are no gears in EVs, which means no sensation (or sound) of the gears shifting beneath you as you accelerate or climb a hill. It’s a smooth, quiet ride with extremely quick speed gain, even on the steepest of hills.

Since it was my first experience driving an EV, I was a bit nervous about charging the car, which I ended up doing twice over the three days I drove the e-Tron. I used an EVGo Fast Charger both times, taking about 40 minutes to charge to 80 percent of the battery, the charge level recommended by most manufacturers. For my first charge session, I ate a quick dinner from a restaurant next door and completed some grocery shopping the second time. Each session ended up costing me between $12-14 which certainly beats the $24 bill I usually see when I fill my gas tank. We did have some difficulty getting the plug out of the e-Tron, which has a release button on the side of the outlet that we are initially unaware of. Aside from that small hiccup, charging was seamless, and I got a prime parking location at the local Walmart, always a bonus.

Driving the Audi e-Tron was an experience well worth repeating and I can’t wait to own a personal EV—they are quiet, efficient, powerful, and I feel less environmental-guilt when driving one. Will the Audi be my choice? Unfortunately for me, the price tag is a bit out of my range, even with the potential $12,500 in rebates and tax incentives off the purchase price. But maybe one day, I’ll be cruising around Colorado in the Audi e-Tron model 4.0. A girl can always dream.

By Sonja Meintsma

Looking for some videos about what drivers think of the Audi e-Tron?

Here is a review from a Denver-based driver who drove the e-Tron around Colorado for a few days.

Here is an in-depth tour the SUV. This video highlights the specs and design of the car over the drive experience.

And if you want to check out the upcoming 2021 Audi e-Tron Sportback, here is a quick demo video.

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