Hallmarks of the 2022 Audi e-tron Sportback design are its vault-like cabin quiet and the svelte action of the adaptive air suspension
Table of Contents
Pricing and Incentives
6 Cool Things
Powertrain and Charging
Ride and Handling
Back Seat and Cargo Space
2023 e-tron updates
Why Buy the Audi e-tron Sportback?
In just three years, Audi has grown its all-wheel-drive e-tron battery-electric family to three distinct vehicles in five body styles in three class segments. And more Audi EVs are on the way.
The midsize e-tron SUV debuted in 2019 and is followed by the e-tron Sportback “coupe SUV.” And then, Audi added higher-performance S models to each of those body styles. Last year brought the compact-class Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron. The lightning rods of the family are the e-tron G.T. and R.S. e-tron G.T. supersedans. They share an architecture with the Porsche Taycan.
Today’s tester is a 2022 Audi e-tron Sportback quattro with the top-line Prestige package. It has an EPA-estimated battery-electric driving range of 222 miles. However, that range becomes closer to 195 miles with the recommended charging to 88 percent to help preserve battery life. Charging to 100 percent is recommended for distance travel.
In either body style, the founding-father e-tron seems to have been tailored for the existing Audi owner. Much of the luxurious elements of the interior and the driving action are very Audi-like. But most of the new and competing electric SUVs strive for an out-there presence to make an EV statement, which often presents longer learning curves of the features. That’s not so with the Audi-familiar cockpits in the e-trons.
Hallmarks of the Audi e-tron Sportback design are its vault-like cabin quiet on the highway and the svelte action of the adaptive air suspension.
The 2022 Audi e-tron quattro SUV starts at $67,095, which is $3,200 less than the 2022 e-tron Sportback. As with other models in the lineup, the 2022 e-tron Sportback is sold in three trim levels of Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The Prestige tester came to $92,140 with options and the $1,195 freight charge. The e-trons are built in a new battery-electric factory in Brussels, Belgium.
See the full list of the tester’s standard and Prestige equipment in the specs box at the end of the review.
Of the eight paint colors, only black is a no-cost choice; the others are $595 each. And there is a range of bespoke colors for $3,200 each.
The Black Optic package on the tester, $2,500, added 21-inch five-spoke turbine-design wheels with 265/45 Continental CrossContact all-season tires. The exterior kit included a black singleframe grille, window surrounds, and front and rear bumpers.
Here are starting prices for the rest of the Audi e-tron lineup, including the freight charge:
e-tron S, $85,995;
e-tron S Sportback, $88,595;
Q4 e-tron, $51,095;
Q4 Sportback e-tron, $53,895;
e-tron GT, $103,895, including a $1,495 freight charge.
Incentives and Rebates
In California and some other states, the 2022 Audi e-tron Sportback qualifies for up to $10,250 in federal and state rebates or incentives.
California Clean Fuel Reward: $750. Available toward the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle with a battery capacity greater than 5kWh. The customer must register the vehicle in California and reside in California.
California Clean Vehicle Rebate: $2,000. Participants are eligible based on gross annual income, as stated on their federal tax return.
Find federal and state laws or incentives here.
And the e-tron models qualify for High-Occupancy-Vehicle freeway access, $22, with the green DMV decal.
Dual charging ports. Premium-plus and Prestige models add a second charging port on the right front fender. (The standard placement is on the right front fender.) And what a smart idea it is to be able to nose into a public charging stall (or the home garage) and not have to wrestle the charging cable to reach.
Onboard power generator, known as Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality. The e-tron is equipped with a charger cable that can be used as a power source at home or on the road. It has two possible plug options to allow for either 110- or 220-volt power outlets. The system does not allow for vehicle-to-grid inverse power.
Digital Matrix LED headlights. With 1.3 million micromirrors per headlight, the DML array creates a “light carpet” 164 feet wide (50 meters). The array keeps light within the driver’s lane and extends the carpet left or right when changing lanes. The electrostatically controlled micromirrors can adjust light-beam pixels up to 5,000 times per second.
Integrated Toll Module. Commuters can put that clunky toll transponder in the glove box. Audi’s ITM tech is a built-in transponder to collect toll fees. With a subscription, the ITM system allows drivers to use touchless transactions along compatible toll roads in the U.S.
Route planner. The e-tron system calculates the fastest route, considers traffic and road data, includes the driver’s driving style, calculates the duration of the charging stops, and incorporates them in planning the total travel time. Drivers receive information about the charging capacity or charging connections and plug types for the relevant charging stations. The system also identifies whether charging stations are vacant or occupied.
1,000kW hours of free charging. Audi’s partnership with Electrify America provides new buyers with about 2,000 miles of range.
The e-tron Sportback shares the e-tron driveline of front and rear asynchronous motors, single-speed reduction gear transmission (one per axle), and a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The net energy of the battery pack is 86.5 kWh, or about 88 percent of its capacity.
Under the hood at the front motor is a large storage box to carry the Level 2 charging cable.
The EPA-estimated driving range of 222 miles seems reserved when some luxury battery electrics boast a range of 300 to 600 miles. Audi says the e-tron battery is engineered to preserve performance and peak charging power during the charge cycle. It is also of interest that the Audi-developed battery modules can be replaced if needed, rather than replacing the entire battery pack.
e-tron Charging Times (estimated)
150kW (400V) rapid DC: Under ideal conditions, charging from 5 to 80 percent of the battery’s capacity takes about 30 minutes. Or 10 minutes for 54 miles;
250kW (800V) rapid DC: 18 minutes to 100 percent charge;
Level 2 240-volt: about 10 hours;
Onboard charger: 9.6kw; can be used with a home Level 2 (240 volt) charger or a 120-volt household outlet.
As a five-seat midsize SUV, the e-tron Sportback has a hefty curb weight of 5,800 pounds or nearly 3 tons with a driver. The battery alone weighs 1,540 pounds.
Base horsepower of 355 hp has an adequate response for most daily driving. Acceleration of the e-tron Sportback is not quick off the line, but power will build rapidly with a harder press of the accelerator.
For more thrilling displays or passing power, a boost mode raises peak horsepower to 402 and max torque of 490 foot-pounds. When driving in Dynamic Sport mode, boost mode gives about an 8-second jolt of power for 8 seconds. Audi cites 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 5.5 seconds with boost and a top speed of 124 mph.
The high turbine whine of the motors makes an enjoyable statement.
The force of braking regeneration can be adjusted, but there is no actual one-pedal driving by using the accelerator. The so-called e-pedal function integrates regenerative braking and electric motors. By lifting the gas pedal, the driver can slow the car to a stop without using the brake pedal. It can even hold the vehicle on an incline. Some carmakers say one-pedal driving takes away driver focus. But I become more focused while using it as an efficiency device.
Audi’s engineering is masterful for the five-link suspension with adaptive air suspension. The front and rear system is self-leveling with automatic control logic for vehicle speed and driving style.
There are five driver-selectable ride height levels after the standard ride height. (A 26mm lift equals 1.02 inches):
Offroad, adds 35mm from standard;
Lift, plus 50mm;
Allroad, plus 17mm;
Dynamic, plus 13mm;
Efficiency, plus 26mm.
Some heavier midsize SUVs with an air suspension struggle to balance the weight. The ride can feel busy as the four-wheel sensors constantly adjust to road conditions. But not this Audi. The e-tron ride quality is organically lush with instantaneous adjustments. Head toss is so well controlled that the ride wouldn’t slosh a fishbowl.
In most driving situations, the Audi e-tron Sportback is rear-wheel drive (rear motor). When needed, the quattro system engages the front motor.
With a max towing weight of 4,000 pounds, the e-tron Sportback models have braking to handle the load. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes have 14.8-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rear rotors.
The Sportback’s long wheelbase (115 inches), wide stance (76.2 inches), and 21-inch tires help stretch the turning circle to a broad 40 feet. But the 360-degree camera with a top view is the great equalizer in cramped parking.
The e-tron cabin is very Audi-like and not like an alt subbrand electrified cousin. Assembly of materials and panels is precise and of high quality. And, oh, that heady scent of the Valcona leather in the Prestige package. Dual-pane acoustic glass amplifies the quiet but also adds curb weight.
As a midsize car, there is ample shoulder room and a broad instrument panel to place controls and switches ergonomically. It is a highly digital cabin space but not alienating to the uninitiated.
Sightlines over the hood and at the side mirrors are uncompromised.
A wide shifter console neatly packages the essentials. The center bin packages the side-mount wireless charging pad, a pair of cup holders, two USBs, and a 12-volt plug. A sliding rolltop cover allows secure space to drop a modest purse or to-go food.
The gearshift bar falls comfortably to the right hand for simple push engagements. The start button and an audio-volume control knob are just ahead of the shifter.
Moving up the center stack are a pair of digital screens. The lower 8.8-inch-wide screen for climate controls has large color graphics and text that are easy to aim for when driving.
The upper 10.1-inch-wide screen for Audi’s Multi Media Interface is low enough to avoid glare and at the correct angle for eyes-on-the-road selection. The MMI groups controls for radio and media, phone, navigation, phone apps, and preferred vehicle settings.
Cabin heating is by a heat pump to help preserve battery range, rather than traditional radiant heating; a heat pump is optional on many less-expensive E.V.s.
Headroom and Sightlines
Front headroom of 38 inches with the standard power sunroof and legroom of 40.8 inches might not be a roomy fit for the very tall driver. Seat comfort and fit are exceptional. The eight-way power front seats are heated, ventilated, and massaging with adjustable lumbar support.
The Sportback’s narrow back glass and sloped rear deck might appear as sightline problems, but it was no issue while driving. The 3D 360-degree camera system empowers visibility in tight parking situations with a top view. Front and rear parking sensors are standard.
Passengers in the second row will appreciate an inch more headroom than those in front, and legroom is adult-class at 39.1 inches. The flat floor eases three-across seating, but feet will straddle the base of the front console. There is no seatback recline, but the angle is relaxed.
A small electronic screen in the console allows full vent directional controls (feet, head, or body) with fan speed and seat heaters. And two more USBs. Dual B-pillar vents give refreshing airflow to those prone to motion upset.
Other back-seat details include a broad fold-down armrest with covered but slim storage and a pair of can holders. And there is large-bottle storage in the doors.
Cargo capacity has significant cubic footage — 28.5 behind the back seat and 56.4 cu. ft. with 40/20/40 seatback folded. However, the slant of the liftgate crops space for big-box items but fold the seatback for 6-feet-plus in length.
The two-piece, hard package shelf is cleverly designed. One removable portion is positioned at the seatback and the second is affixed to the liftgate. Together, the pieces form a solid block of what might be in the bay.
Cargo area extras include dual side lights, usable underfloor storage, and a 12-volt plug.
There are no significant changes from 2022, but there are several new trim enhancements, and most are for the 2023 e-tron Sportback Prestige.
- The optional black headliner has now been made standard for the 2023 e-tron Sportback.
- Now standard are 22-inch five-spoke-turbine design bi-color wheels, orange front and rear brake calipers, rear side air bags with illuminated safety belt buckles, and Digital Matrix-design headlights.
- The Black optic exterior package is now standard for Prestige.
- e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback are updated with carbon inlays, and the LED interior lighting-plus package is standard.
- Also, for the 2023 model year, the potential federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is still expected to be available for both models.
Audi engineering instills a sense of maturity and substance in the e-tron Sportback. The car is rich in luxurious details, which are reflected in the tester’s $90K price.
No carmaker makes a “sportback” design more compelling than Audi. The coupelike stance seems more sport sedan than family SUV, but I prefer the sturdy stance of the e-tron SUV and its more functional cargo space.
The 222-mile driving range will be a nonissue for owners who, in this pricing demographic, will have a Level 2 charger at home.
But the availability of Audi e-trons will be limited. As Audi posts on its consumer site: “Due to ongoing parts shortage issues impacting global production, the availability of some equipment, options or features may be limited.”
And be sure to verify the vehicle you purchase includes all expected features and equipment.
Body style: midsize, 5-seat, 5-door coupe SUV with standard quattro all-wheel drive
Motors: Front and rear asynchronous
Horsepower: 355 hp, or a max of 402 with boost; maximum torque 414/490 lb.-ft., w/boost
Battery: 95 kWh lithium-ion; net energy of 86.5 kWh; 36 cell modules with 12 60-amp pouch cells
Transmission: Single-speed reduction gear (one per axle)
EPA-estimated driving range: 222 miles
Fuel economy equivalent: 76/78/77 mpg-e city/highway/combined
Top speed: 124 mph
0-60 mph acceleration: 5.5 seconds, with boost
Towing capacity: 4,000 pounds w/braked trailer
Rapid DC 150kW (400V): charging from 5 to 80 percent takes about 30 minutes. Or 10 minutes for 54 miles.
Rapid DC 250kW (800V): 18 minutes to 100 percent charge
Level 2 240-volt: about 10 hours
Onboard charger: 9.6kw; with home Level 2 (240 volts) or household 120-volt capability
BY THE NUMBERS
Cargo space: 28.5/56.4 cubic feet
Front head/leg room: 38/40.8 inches
Rear head/leg room: 39/39.1 inches
Length/wheelbase: 193/115.3 inches
Curb weight: 5,787 pounds
Turning circle: 40 feet
Standard equipment includes: Smartkey locking and push-button start, leather-trimmed upholstery, power sunroof with electric sunshade, Audi virtual cockpit-plus (12.3-inch LCD fully digital instrument cluster with visual modes of Classic, Sport, and e-tron, navigation-plus with natural voice control system, MMI infotainment touch response, 4-zone automatic climate control with heat pump and preconditioning, heated 8-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar adjustment, illuminated aluminum front and rear door-sill inlays, power tilt and telescoping steering column with memory, LED headlights with high-beam assist, LED turn signals, manual rear side window sunshades, power-folding and heated side mirrors, S line full paint finish with aluminum window surrounds, illuminated aluminum S line door sills front and rear, side windows and tailgate privacy glass, white LED interior lighting, cabin comfort pre-conditioning, in-vehicle trip planner
Prestige package ($13,200) features include: Valcona full leather package (upper part of the dashboard, door armrest and lower center console in artificial leather to match the color of the interior trim); 18-way heated and ventilated individual contour comfort front seats with power lumbar adjustment, massaging and seat memory; top view camera system with Virtual 360 view; air quality ionizer and aromatization (summer and winter); matrix-design headlights with high-beam assist; full LED taillights with dynamic indicators with sequential illumination; multi-color LED interior ambient and contour lighting; power soft-door closers; heated rear seats; 705-watt 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system with 15-channel amplifier; head-up display with navigation and assistance systems information
Safety features include: 8 air bags, forward collision warning and avoidance assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, parking system-plus with front and rear acoustic sensors; optional rear side thorax air bags with illuminated seat-belt buckles
Base e-tron Sportback: $70,295, including $1,195 freight charge; price as tested $92,140
Options on test vehicle: Navarra Blue metallic paint $595; Prestige package $13,200; Digital Matrix headlights $3,000; Black Optic package $2,500; trailer hitch and 7-pin connector; rear side air bags $400
Where assembled: Brussels, Belgium
Warranties: 8-year/100,000-mile high-voltage battery (10-years/150,000-miles in California); 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance.