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First drive: Audi E-Tron Sportback

Date: 01 March 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Audi's electric SUV gets an injection of style with a morsel of extra range.
Standard equipment: 21in alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, selectable drive modes, matrix LED headlights, privacy glass, electric tailgate, electrically-adjustable heated front seats, two-zone automatic air conditioning with remote pre-conditioning, 10.1in touchscreen sat-nav, 8.6in vehicle function control screen, Virtual Cockpit driver display, cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning, keyless go, rear-view camera, autonomous emergency braking
Electric: 313hp, 408hp
Equipment grades: S Line, Vorsprung
Transmissions: Single-speed

Premium carmakers have had a lot of success in recent years with SUV-coupes, effectively regular SUV models given sportier styling and slightly lower roofs. Well, Audi has decided that electric SUVs should be no different, and introduced the model seen here - the E-Tron Sportback. It's based on the E-Tron SUV that debuted in 2019 as Audi's first all-electric vehicle, but amends that model's conventional hatchback rear with the customary lower roof and a fastback tailgate. However, there's more to this makeover than cosmetic appeal, with the revised roofline giving the E-Tron Sportback a more aerodynamic shape, and therefore allowing a slightly increased range on a single charge compared with the regular model - worth seven miles with the spec tested here on the WLTP cycle.

On the road, the E-Tron Sportback does plenty to live up to its coupe styling. You might not expect it from what is still a large, heavy SUV, but it is very good fun to drive. The batteries being mounted in the floor gives it a low centre of gravity, meaning that rather than wallowing about in corners it feels taut and surprisingly agile. Combined with immense all-wheel drive traction, it's almost like whizzing about in a high-riding, two-and-a-half tonne go-kart. And that's without even mentioning the rapid and relentless acceleration, with our test car's 408hp - from a pair of motors, one at each axle - ensuring this SUV can easily keep pace with contemporary hot hatches (a less powerful 313hp variant is also available).

Where the E-Tron Sportback does feel its weight is in ride quality, as although it's generally OK it doesn't glide over divots around town as serenely as we'd like. Another niggle is that instead of effective electric silence, you get a slightly annoying, whirring noise from the motor, which is particularly noticeable at lower speeds.

The car tested here is in the S Line equipment grade - normally a mid-level Audi spec, but with the E-Tron Sportback the entry-level model, although the interior finish and technology are still done to a very high standard. The only snag with our test car was the optional camera screens replacing the door mirrors, the low position of which on the driver's side in particular is disconcerting when you're trying to quickly check your surroundings on the road - although this may be something drivers get used to with time.

As for how the regular E-Tron's transformation into a Sportback affects practicality, rear legroom is good, and while headroom is reduced by 20mm, as long as rear-seat passengers aren't over six foot there shouldn't be any complaints. Regarding luggage space, a still-commodious 555-litre boot is 45 litres down on the regular model (both also come with a 60-litre stowage compartment under the bonnet).

Which brings us to price, and the headline news is that you'll pay a £1,600 premium for the E-Tron Sportback in this spec over the normal E-Tron, although given that we're talking about cars costing nearly £80k anyway this is really of limited significance. The high-level directors who might be considering a car such as this will be more likely to compare it with outside rivals - and at that point will likely pause for thought, as the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Jaguar I-Pace are both cheaper than the Audi, and they and the Tesla Model X all offer greater driving ranges.

Audi E-Tron Sportback 55 Quattro 300kW S Line

P11D Price: £79,845

Residual value: 44.7% 

Depreciation: £44,112

Fuel: £2,725

Service, maintenance & repair: £3,429

Cost-per-mile: 83.77p

Range: 241 miles

CO2 (BIK Band): 0g/km (1%) 

BIK 20/40% per month: £13/£27

Boot space: 615 litres (including front stowage compartment)

Motor/power: 408hp with 95kWh battery




  • Good to drive
  • Well-trimmed
  • Expensive
  • Battery range down on rivals