This is our final edition of Audi Through the Decades, as we’re all caught up now. The year 2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and one we’re fascinated to see, as it’s going to be one of the very most important decades for Audi, and the industry as a whole, moving forward. The previous decade though — spanning 2010 – 2019 — was an especially hard one to choose from.
During the last decade, there were a ton of great cars to come from Audi. However, when choosing the best of a decade, you’re essentially choosing the best of an era and that choice must include more than just fun driving dynamics. The best car of an era has to be great to drive, important for its time and have an impact on the brand moving forward. For those reasons, there could only be one choice for the best Audi of the 2010s — the Audi e-tron.
Of all of our Audi Through the Decades choices, the Audi e-tron is the most flawed. By no means are we saying that, objectively as a car, the e-tron is the best Audi to drive because it isn’t. It’s too heavy, its handling is lacking and its range is far too low for an electric car of its price. However, what the e-tron did when it debuted last year, at the tail end of the 2010s, was similar to what the original Audi Ur Quattro did. It set up the brand for the future.
The Audi e-tron proved that the four-ringed brand wasn’t just in the electrified race but one of the best racers in it. Sure, the e-tron is flawed and might not be as objectively good of an EV as something like the Tesla Model X. But it was also Audi’s first ever attempt at a real, all-electric production car. I’d say it’s a pretty good first attempt.
From the moment you set off in the Audi e-tron, it does no feel like a first attempt. It feels so well made, so thoroughly thought out and so meticulously crafted that you’d think Audi’s been making EVs forever. The powertrain calibration is remarkable, its charging capabilities are the best in the industry (tied with the Porsche Taycan, which shares some of Audi’s tech) and it’s more robust than any other EV SUV. And this is just the beginning.
There are also more e-tron models to come. For instance: the e-tron Sportback, a more stylish version of the existing e-tron SUV; an e-tron S Sportback, which is a much sportier version of the standard car with an additional motor, more power and more performance; and the upcoming e-tron GT, which is a four-door, all-electric super sedan.
Just like the Ur Quattro from the ’80s, the Audi e-tron kicked off a new era of all-electric Audis that will carry a name customers will know and remember from this point on.
We also haven’t mentioned just how good of a car the e-tron actually is. As an EV, it’s flawed, but as a luxury SUV it’s brilliant. Sure, it doesn’t handle very well, nor is it very quick, but it’s supposed to be a luxury car and it does that very well. It’s almost eerily quiet inside, its suspension is wonderfully supple yet always composed and its cabin is a delightful blend of Audi’s familiar quality and style with brand-new technology. It might only be able to do 200 miles of range but those will be 200 very luxurious miles.
As much as we wanted to choose cars like the Audi R8 RWS, C7 Audi RS6 Avant or the Audi RS3 Sportback, the best Audi from the 2010s has to be the e-tron. It’s just too important for it not to be. There’s not a doubt in my mind that whenever we write about the best Audi from the 2020s, it’s going to have “e-tron” in its name and it’s going to owe that to the original.