In the age of electrification, Audi continues to show us the way of future luxury interiors.
Audi’s battery-electric e-tron, the German brand’s first offering in an ambitious zero-emission product strategy, earns a 2020 Wards 10 Best Interiors trophy by proving electric-vehicle interiors can be as comfortable, alluring and user-friendly as their internal-combustion-engine counterparts.
The monochromatic Pearl Beige interior makes the e-tron a sanctuary of relaxation, a place to unwind after a hectic day. That serenity is reinforced by the all-electric drivetrain, humming away in near silence.
This is a beautifully executed interior with matte-finish wood, supple leather and a metallic palm-rest shifter that is handsome, ergonomically easy to use and unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Judge Christie Schweinsberg is smitten with the “light, airy feeling inside,” cascading from a light-colored, high-quality woven headliner that is meticulously crafted (pictured below). Providing contrast is the charcoal carpeting and instrument panel, as well a handsome natural burl walnut trim on the doors and lower instrument panel.
“I really love the beautiful aluminum trim, geometric lines inside and the convex and concave surfaces, especially on doors and glove box. The latter looks like it was scooped or carved out,” Schweinsberg says. “Overall this is a really strong cabin. I would say it maintains the bar Audi has set, which is very high.”
Thankfully, Audi has realized environmentally minded consumers leaning toward electric vehicles want no compromises from either the powertrain or styling, inside or out.
In the case of the e-tron, the overall aesthetics are closely aligned with that of the A7 Sportback and A8 sedans, and all three vehicles rely on two neatly configured infotainment touchscreens, one stacked on top of the other in the center console, in easy view (and reach) for the driver.
The biggest functional difference comes in the center console, where the e-tron employs a palm-rest gear shifter that’s ideally placed in front of the cupholder and storage bin. The right hand naturally falls on the padded surface, where the thumb and index finger can toggle a big, chunky, brushed-aluminum shifter that is sleek and intuitive to use (pictured below). It’s a great design that does the job well.
In scoring the e-tron, Wards judges also called out the unique stitch pattern on seats, the flawless fit-and-finish, the brushed metallic switchgear, the scalloped and spacious second-row seats, the form-fitting Valcona leather, the microsuede door trim inserts and the unparalleled design and flexibility of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
Judge Schweinsberg also lauds the e-tron’s user experience. “The voice recognition understood everything I threw at it and returned results lightning fast,” she says.
And let’s not forget the e-tron is a generously proportioned midsize utility vehicle with 57 cu.-ft. (1,614 L) of cargo space – the kind of vehicles Americans can’t live without.
Our ’19 e-tron quattro (pictured below) carried a sticker price of $85,790, including $7,000 for the Prestige package, integrating massaging seats, air ionizer, privacy sunshades for rear windows, ambient lighting, dual-pane acoustic glass and a full suite of driver-assistance technologies.
It’s less expensive than a similar A8 and yet it’s more functional and all-electric with 204 miles (328 km) of range.
If you appreciate Audi interiors and want to do right by the planet, the e-tron is a solid choice.