The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming. Well, that’s what Elon Musk must be thinking. Audi kicks off its full-electric onslaught with the new e-tron SUV. Well, it’s somewhat of a wagon meets SUV. But it’s much more SUV than wagon. So, don’t get too excited, Euro wagon freaks. Surprisingly, EPA range for the e-tron is only 204 miles, some 30 miles less than both the Jaguar I-Pace and Musk’s just-discontinued entry-level Tesla Model X. And the Model X Long Range model offers a mega-impressive 325-mile range. The upcoming Mercedes EQC looks to be in a similar boat-of-less-miles-per-charge as the Audi. That should calm Mr. Musk. But the e-tron still has a lot going for it, including Audi’s superior dealer network versus Tesla. If I were to buy an Audi e-tron, here’s how I’d spec it.
Paint: I’m tempted by Manhattan Gray, Typhoon Gray, or Florett Silver because I’m quite boring when it comes to exterior color. But I’ll go a touch crazy here and pick the Antigua Blue. I’m sure I’d change my mind and wimp out before I signed the order form. Each of these four hues cost the same $595.
Wheels: The standard silver 5-spoke 20-inch wheels, please. They are simple and perfectly traditional German—just my style. The optional, no-charge 19-inch aero wheels are unattractive. As are the 21-inch bi-color wheels, which add $1500 to the price tag and surely hurt ride quality due to extra weight and shorter sidewalls.
Seats: Pearl Beige leather is what I’d go with. The dashboard, steering wheel and carpets are all dark, which is key for visual contrast as well as cutting down on annoying reflections on the inside of the windshield. And there’s a light Lunar Silver headliner included, adding a further airy feeling inside the light-colored cabin. The black leather interior route is fine but I’m not a fan of the brown, especially if I actually stuck with the Antiqua Blue paint. And going with brown includes a black headliner. Not ideal. All three routes are no-cost.
Trim: An easy pick as there’s only one offered: Dark Brown Walnut Wood Inlays. I’d much prefer aluminum trim, as offered on the e-tron in Europe.
Prestige Package ($7,000): Why not. You may as well turn the e-tron into a proper battery-powered luxury mobile. It’s not like it’s exciting to drive—it’s an SUV. A good number of items are included, which is lucky as it’s not remotely a cheap package: HVAC with ionization and fragrance, Driver Assistance Plus (adaptive cruise, Audi Pre Sense, lane departure, intersection assistant, and traffic sign recognition), dual-pane acoustic glass, Valcono leather seats with massage and memory, full leather interior, head-up display, multicolor LED interior lighting, memory for the passenger seat, power door closure, and manual rear sunshades.
Cold Weather Package ($900): Heated/ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are standard on the e-tron. This package adds adaptive windshield wipers with heated washer jets, rear heated seats, and high-voltage heater. All very nice to have on an EV in Michigan.
Towing Package ($650): It’s handy to be able to tow with an SUV. Maximum towing capacity is a decent 4,000 pounds on the e-tron.
Etc.: Rear side airbags ($400) are interesting, especially as they include illuminated seat belt buckles—handy at night. I’d also pay $999 for Audi Care, which covers annual service for a total of 5 years (versus the standard 1 year). Yes, an EV needs to be serviced too. The Interior Protection Kit gives you rubber floor mats and a touch-screen cleaning cloth for $210. I like secure cargo, so I’d add the $310 retractable rear cover. Though it should be standard on the e-tron. For $125, having a 7-pin connector for trailer wiring is smart. And a first aid kit is a handy extra for $50.
What to Skip: I’ve pretty much loaded it up, outside of the noted 21-inch wheels. Audi did offer 999 examples of the Edition One e-tron, but they sold out. I’m not sure how, as why you’d want gaudy bi-color wheels and orange brake calipers is beyond me. I don’t need the $175 rear cargo mat. I find them too slippery for groceries, etc. You can spend $175 for clear protection film on the rear cargo lip, door cups and door edges but I’m not a fan. The material tends to yellow after time. Plus, I’m a careful person. No need to pay $110 for Audi USB cables. I have my own. And Audi’s folding cargo box is interesting, but I don’t need it and it’s not worth $75.
Total Cost: $87,043 ($75,795 base price)