Electrifying Performance

7 min read
Sport utility vehicles are the next frontier for the electrification of automobiles. Here are three to combine luxury with performance and environmental consciousness.

1. AUDI E-TRON SPORTBACK 50 QUATTRO

Audi’s flagship electric model just got a makeover, and the result is a battery-powered SUV coupe that looks as good as it drives.

At the foundation of this handsome car sits a battery system that puts out 71kW of gross energy and weighs about 120kg less than the previous e-tron model. What this translates to is an SUV coupe that can go 347km fully charged on a Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP) cycle. Audi’s recuperation system allows the battery to be charged both in coasting mode when the accelerator is released, as well as during breaking.

From a practicality perspective, the Audi e-Tron Sportback can charge with direct current at up to 120kW at fast-charging stations. All it takes is half an hour to get the battery charged to 80%.

Battery technology aside, the car also sees enhancements in driveability and performance. Asynchronous motors attached directly to each axle provide quiet and powerful acceleration from 0–100km/h in just 6.8 seconds. Quattro technology continuously regulates the ideal drive torque distribution between both axles for exceptional efficiency. If the driver requests more output than it can provide, the front unit is instantly activated. This also happens predictively before slip occurs in icy condition or when cornering fast, or if the car understeers or oversteers.

One key technological improvement is the lowered centre of gravity of the drive components. The heavier components are centred on the vehicle with axle load distribution perfectly balanced at 50:50. Additional technology features include the electrohydraulic brake system, five-link suspension, and progressive steering, all contributing to better vehicle handling.

Audi’s many driver-assist systems come as standard. Audi pre-sense front safety system warns of collisions and initiates braking at specific vehicle speeds. Five radar sensors, five cameras, and 12 ultrasonic sensors work together to provide data to the central driver-assistance controller to help the driver-assist system keep you safe throughout your drive.

Comfort is further improved by the dynamic handling system, Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to switch the method of operation of multiple drive components between seven profiles. Adaptive air suspension with controlled dampers can lower the body up to 76mm at high speeds, to improve airflow and extend the vehicle’s range.

Visually, the Audi e-Tron Sportback offers a combination of style and function in one sporty package. The roofline drops steeply towards the rear, reflecting its coupe detailing. And this being a Sportback, the lower edge of the third side window rises towards the back for an added sleek accent. It’s not all looks here — the coupe body shape has a drag coefficient of just 0.25, an improvement over its sister e-Tron model.

A new colour — plasma blue, metallic — puts the total palette options available in Singapore to 11.

Inside, the elegant combination of design and ergonomics is representative of the Audi brand. From door to display to door, an ergonomic arc integrates the instrumental panel with the 12.3-inch display in the virtual cockpit. The two touch displays are angled towards the driver for heightened usability; when deactivated, the upper one blends seamlessly into the gloss-black surround.

The e-Tron Sportback also features Audi’s top-end MMI Navigation plus system, which supports high-speed data transmission standard LTE Advanced and comes with an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot for the passengers’ mobile devices. As an example, the intelligent navigation system can calculate your route on board in the car as well as online on the servers of the map and navigation provider HERE, which monitors the overall traffic situation in the region.

For a touch of the futuristic, the free myAudi app connects the car to your smartphone, from where you can query battery and range status, start the charging process, programme timers, and display driving statistics. It can even plan your route with charging station information. And the pre-cooling function comes in extra handy on a sizzling, hot day.

Serve drinks and a cold towel? Not yet… but with Audi, you never know!

PRICE  $333,461 WITH COE AND VES

ENGINE  LITHIUM-ION BATTERY WITH QUATTRO PERMANENT ALL-WHEEL DRIVE

TRANSMISSION  SINGLE-SPEED

POWER  230KW ELECTRICAL PEAK OUTPUT

TORQUE  540NM

0–100KM/H  6.8 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  AUDI SINGAPORE (Tel: 6836 2223)

2. MERCEDES-BENZ EQC 400 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz has embarked on their far-thinking Ambition2039 plan, which will introduce a fully networked and completely carbon-neutral new car fleet by 2039. And the new Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC is a harbinger of that endeavour.

The EQ is a sub-brand of the famous three-pointed star marque that embodies attentive design details with the electrification of automobility. As its first milestone, the EQC pushes the brand forth with a car that is electrically powered by two motors on the front and rear axles, offering a combined output of 300kW (408bhp).

What the EQC also launches is a new design paradigm for Mercedes-Benz. The new electro-look can be described as an electric crossover SUV — with its extended roofline and window configuration — with a low waist-line and a roof treatment that sits somewhere between an SUV and an SUV coupe.

One key visual distinction of the EQC is the black-panel surface enclosing the headlamps and grille. An optical fibre at the top of the panel delineates the daytime-running lamps as a typical Mercedes-Benz feature. When the sun goes down, this produces an uninterrupted horizontal light band.

The electro-look styling extends inside, exemplified by the retro-ribbed edge of the instrumental panel. The driver-oriented cockpit is accentuated by a cut-out in the asymmetrical wing profile in the drive area. The high-tech, high-gloss cassette housing of the flat air vents — with their key-shaped, rosé gold-coloured louvres — completes the look.As an option, the Sunnyvale upholstery offers an environmentally conscious concept to interior detailing. Manufactured from recycled material, the fabric lines the centre sections of the backrest and seat surface. The side bolsters are of man-made leather and have rosé gold-coloured topstitching. More than 100 components in the interior are made from resource-friendly materials like hemp, kenaf, wool or paper.After a decade and a half of absence, the previously British auto icon MG returned to Singapore in 2020, albeit in a different form and proposition. Now owned by the Chinese, MG’s proudly environmentally conscious vehicles are one of its key selling points. And the MG ZS EV is its flagship along the electric avenue.

The ZS EV is an option for those looking for zero-emission vehicles combined with the practical advantages of an SUV. The 44.5kW water-cooled lithium-ion battery lets the car go to a maximum range of 335km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) combined cycle before needing a charge. The battery is 360-degree protected and insulated from temperature variations. The balanced weight distribution and low centre of gravity helps with the car’s handling through corners.Currently, there are over 1,700 electric charging points in Singapore where you can charge the MG ZS EV; this is planned to increase to 60,000 by 2030. The battery can be recharged fully with its Type 2 port mounted on the front grille in seven hours with a standard 7kW home charging unit. With a 50kW charging point, it takes just 40 minutes to get it to 80%.

The electric SUV comes with creature comforts, too. The eight-inch touch display smartphone connection lets drivers enjoy the benefits of connectivity and entertainment when on the road. The leather multi-function steering wheel and PM2.5 air purification system is just icing on the cake.The exterior of the ZS EV is an exercise in practical sensibility that never veers towards pedestrian designs. The boxy silhouette may not win any international design awards, but it is easy on the eye. The ultra-wide sunroof is a premium addition, and the 17-inch windmill blade dual colour wheel does add some pizzazz.

All in all, the MG ZS EV must rank as one of the best value-for-money electric vehicles available in Singapore, and should go some way in making converts out of many of us.

PRICE  $128,888 (WITH COE AND CHARGER)

ENGINE  PERMANENT MAGNETIC SYNCHRONOUS MOTOR

TRANSMISSION  ELECTRIC DRIVE UNIT

POWER  105KW (141BHP)

TORQUE  353NM

0–100KM/H  8.2 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  EUROKARS EV PTE LTD (Tel: 6261 1181)

EV CHARGERS AT AA CENTRE
AA Singapore is doing its part to mitigate climate change by supporting this trend towards EVs on our roads. To that end, we have installed EV chargers on our premises at AA Centre. Our chargers are rated DC30 and are capable of providing a 0–75% charge in 60 minutes (40kW battery). Read more about this convenient service here.

And while you’re waiting for your vehicle to charge up, why not take advantage of the Members’ lounge and enjoy the refreshments there. Indeed, there are many advantages to being a Member. Check out the Association’s Membership promotion here.