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Audi e-tron first drive review: a solid electric SUV (electrek.co)
22 points by evo_9 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

"The proportions are near perfect for the segment and Audi didn’t fall for the usual electric design traps."

... except for making all of the controls touch screens.

Physical knobs and buttons are more performant, more useful and more expensive. LCD screen are not a luxury - they are the opposite of luxury.

I don't know why but I genuinely hate those side mounted cameras, like really really hate them. I don't understand what benefit it brings and my brain can only conjure up images of cracked screens, deep scratches or smudges, costly repairs.

The benefit is less drag, and therefore more efficiency. Tesla is trying to make them happen to. Not sure how I feel about the look though.

Besides that you don’t need the whole mechanics of the mirrors like moving and folding them. All this could be done with software. Dimming and heating is also not necessary and the camera could also be used for some part of the autonomous driving. I guess in 5-10 years many cars would have them

Surely heating is still necessary if the camera lens gets frosted up in cold weather.

Right? It's the only thing I'd hate about having a Tesla Model 3, if I could afford it, and it would be available in my country.

Scratch that, I'd also hate not having a HUD in front of me, it would more then make up for the lack of a dashboard IMO.

But yeah, a few basic controls for eg. for AC and oh.. a PHYSICAL BUTTON TO OPEN THE GLOVEBOX? :)

Anything that the driver wants to adjust while driving should have a physical realization and give haptic feedback. They shouldn't have to look at it to more than a glance to make sure they've got a finger on the right thing. Knobs, switches, buttons, sliders: all good.

Anything that the driver won't use while the car is in motion or the passenger wants to play with can be touch-screen, or VR, or gesture-driven, or activated by thinking happy thoughts. That doesn't present a safety hazard.

I thought I’d miss those things too, now I get all confused when I drive with a dashboard in front of me. The only sorta inconvenience is the glovebox, but honestly, there’s so much space in the middle storage that the only use of the glovebox is keeping stuff you don’t access all the time “safe” (if someone breaks in the car, they will have to break it too to grab whatever’s inside)

I'm afraid that ship has sailed. Tesla changed the expectation of buyers that touchscreens are more 'luxurious' so the market follows. I prefer physical knobs too, but don't blame car makers for following market trends.

Fortunately, some car companies are seeing the light of physical control. For example, Honda had mainly touch-only controls on the last generation Accord, but then added a bunch of physical buttons back for the 2018 model.

I went to the launch event in San Francisco where they had this (in cobalt blue) and another hypercar (R8 e-tron I think). What bugged me then and still bugs me now is how they are treating "electric", as in trying to add electric motors in the same Q5 chassis, including keeping some vestigial things around - like pedal shifters[2] that are still present in the pictures from article. When I asked about what purpose they serve, people running the event replied something along the lines of "they make the car go faster". Compared to amount of space you get in a Model X - a frunk and a massive trunk, there was rather limited space in this car.

I really wish Audi/Benz/BMW would treat electric cars more seriously, and not as PR projects like the i3 or e-Golf.

[1] http://www.thedrive.com/news/23364/third-gen-audi-r8-will-be...

[2] https://i.imgur.com/qEp4aOi.png

Those are called paddle shifters, not pedal. In the e-tron, they control the aggressiveness of the regenerative braking.

I like vehicles like the i3, but the styling isn’t for everyone and many buyer prefer a traditional looking vehicle. The Honda Insight for example was quite ugly IMO, but I would’ve bought one that looked more like a Civic or Accord.

Also the R8 isn’t a hypercar, that’s more like a McLaren P1 or Porsche 918.

The i3 is a totally new, designed from scratch electric car. How is that not taking electric cars seriously?

What do the pedal shifters do?

I have a Chevy Bolt, and the 'brake more' paddle shifter is by far most used non-steering or acceleration control. Sometimes, I don't even need to use the foot brake at all. It reminds me of downshifting in my old Miata, without all the fun of the clutch.

He meant “paddle shifters”. They allow manual shifting of an automatic transmission.

But there are no gears to shift in electric.

In this vehicle they control the regenerative braking, i.e. make it more or less aggressive.

Electric cars could have gears (e.g. Formula E)

Also, the koenigsegg hybrid uses the paddles to control things other than the gear (Since AFAIK it has a CVT)

Tough. It's a luxury Audi, so it has paddle shifters. They just have to figure out something for them to do.

Efficiency is very low. 200mi on 95kWh? In perfect weather? That's like 475Wh/mi which is significantly worse than a Tesla Model X (estimated around 350-375/mi in good weather). Tesla has a bigger car.

And thats without running heaters, AC or lead-foot-itis (I average 275 Wh/mi in my Focus EV, but can push 300 if I'm aggressive).

The e-tron is a heavier car. The increase in weight over the Model X is roughly proportional to the decrease in range (comparing it to the Model Xs of roughly the same size battery).

It's not the most efficient EV on the market, but to say that efficiency is very low, especially compared to a Model X, would be a gross misrepresentation.

I'm just waiting for an affordable electric SUV. I wish big Japanese manufactures would release one. That being said, has anyone driven a car with virtual side mirrors before? I can't imagine them being better than regular side mirrors...

Virtual mirrors really only exist because of fuel economy requirements. Mirrors have long been a thorn in automakers side when it comes to aerodynamics. It's just now that every .0001mpg (or mile of range) matters enough to justify the cost of tackling the problem. In the case of this Audi I suspect this ads a handful of extra miles of range when cruising on the highway.

Whether or not they're "better" depends wholly on what your metrics are and their relative importance. If you care about cost or reliability beyond the warranty period then it's not gonna beat a traditional mirror.

You could easily implement a bunch of little luxury feature type things with virtual side mirrors, like show a line where the vehicle will go (like a backup camera), dim them at night, point them more inboard and low when reversing, etc. If they ever find their way onto a Land Rover or Jeep I can see them having a "rock crawl mode" that points the camera where needed for visibility. Personally I don't think those sorts of things are important enough to justify the cost.

> Mirrors have long been a thorn in automakers side when it comes to aerodynamics.

Formula 1 still uses everyday side view mirrors. Those cars are at the pinnacle of technology and engineering. So if there was ever a case to decrease the drag coefficient F1 cars would be the place.

I just don't think side mirrors contribute that much to be worth replacing them with a camera based system.

>Formula 1 still uses everyday side view mirrors. Those cars are at the pinnacle of technology and engineering. So if there was ever a case to decrease the drag coefficient F1 cars would be the place.

F1 is highly restricted as to what they can and can't do as far as vehicle design. If the class rules said they needed to tow a parachute they'd tow parachutes. They would be highly aerodynamic parachutes but parachutes nonetheless.

F1 also doesn't care about cabin noise. Mirrors cause a fair bit of cabin noise.

>I just don't think side mirrors contribute that much to be worth replacing them with a camera based system.

Me either, but through a combination of people at various levels responding to incentives here we are.

They’re also extremely weight sensitive. Is a camera system with two screens lighter and more useful?

Last I checked, in the US these were not allowed due to safety concerns (Tesla tried to remove the side mirrors from the Model 3 originally). There are potential benefits to the driver in the form of wider FOV, low-light boosting, hazard highlighting, etc. but these are pretty minor improvements over a properly configured mirror with a warning LED. The big benefits are really improved aerodynamics and reduced parking damage potential.

About the mirrors. Since it is a screen, would it make more sense to put the screen in the drivers field of vision? That way they do not need to turn their head away from the road to look in the mirror. Only downside would be checking the blindspot -- this mirror system could be setup without a blindspot.

Hyundai Kona Electric?

300 mile WLTP range and £32k cost.

give it 3 years. Pure Electric Cars depreciate like crazy right now.

I don't drive much at all on busy highways/interstates/city roads but when I do the side mirrors are often unused. The most used is my memory and spatial awareness of the cars around me, the cars I have passed or who have passed me along with the rear-view mirror. If it's tight traffic and there's uncertainty I will turn my head to look. With that said, I can see virtual side mirrors giving me an advantage to the analog version by having a wider range of view, lane change assist with lines like a backup camera, night-mode, etc...

I don’t think I could pay Audi prices for 185 miles of range.

I don't understand why they wouldn't create a different brand first, wait it to be matured, then acquire it. That looks like a famous brand is after electric car dream.

Audi is already a well-established brand that has immediate recognition in the market. All established brands are working on EVs. All of them.

Yep, I exactly wanted to make a point that Audi shouldn't risk their reputation on the matter (well aware of the brand value). IMHO, brands are rushing EV little too fast without bringing something different or public contribution.

Audi - or more generally the VW - have enough money and other reputation to completely fuck up their electric cars and then either reprogram the public using advertising or (as you said) start a separate company

Notice this vehicle is not related with the French vehicle also called É-tron which use biomass for fuel.

I still find the dashboards a total mess of design. They look like 8 different people designed the separate parts and then stuck them together in the factory. I don't understand why car designers don't take design as seriously as some app developers and really get the joined-up feeling of really good design.

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