SAN FRANCISCO -- When it arrives in U.S. dealerships in the second quarter of next year, the 2019 Audi e-tron will boast a 95-kilowatt-hour battery, standard all-wheel drive and a host of interconnected goodies to make owning Audi's first full-electric vehicle more enjoyable.
What the five-seat premium crossover also will have, though, is the same 0-to-60 time as a 2017 Audi A3 sedan (5.5 seconds) and the lowest top speed (124 mph) of any modern Audi except the 1984 Audi Coupe (116 mph). However, like all electric vehicles, the e-tron will boast almost immediate torque, boosting its sporty feel.
An official range estimate in the U.S. will be available closer to launch next year, an Audi of America spokesman said. However, Audi AG has said the e-tron will boast a range of just under 250 miles, based on the WLTP cycle used in Europe.
The e-tron is among the first in a string of dedicated EVs from European automakers that are taking aim at Tesla Inc. and other startups with Tesla-like ambitions.
The 2019 e-tron will come in two standard trims as well as a special First Edition model limited to 999 vehicles. Pricing starts at $75,795 for the base Premium Plus trim and jumps to $82,795 for the higher Prestige trim level. The First Edition model has a starting price of $87,695. All prices include shipping.
Audi began accepting orders -- along with $1,000 refundable deposits -- Monday. Once customers place an order, Audi says, they will be able to track their vehicle from manufacturing to final delivery. The e-tron is being built by Audi in Brussels.
Audi's first electric crossover employs a pair of cooled asynchronous motors attached to single-stage transmissions to deliver torque to the e-tron's axles. When the crossover is operating at moderate speeds under a light load, power primarily comes from the rear motor and axle, and when it is coasting, both motors operate free of magnetic drag torque, increasing efficiency.
The e-tron recaptures energy to charge the battery as it is coasting as well as during braking, with the driver able to select the amount of energy recovery via paddles on the steering wheel. In its top recovery mode, the e-tron begins to noticeably slow as soon as the driver eases up on the accelerator pedal, allowing the driver to operate the crossover with a single pedal.
Like a traditional high-end Audi quattro system, Audi's electric awd in the e-tron is able to predictively engage the front axle when the driver requests more power than the rear motor can deliver, or during wintry conditions or dynamic cornering. The e-tron also uses its electric brakes to selectively provide torque vectoring, increasing dynamic performance.
The e-tron is able to automatically adjust its ride height up to 3 inches, lowering itself at highway speeds to reduce drag. The body height also can be raised by the driver to increase clearance or to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the vehicle. When equipped with an optional tow package, the e-tron is rated to tow as much as 4,000 pounds, Audi says, though its battery range would be limited under such a load.