Cadillac Lyriq. Ford Mustang Mach E. Polestar 2. New, premium electric cars are coming and they will inevitably be compared to Tesla, the baseline for battery-powered success. But to sell in volume, these challengers must also outperform the gas siblings across the showroom floor.
Take the electric Audi e-tron Fastback and Audi SQ5 SUVs I just drove to Hell and back.
Hell, Michigan, that is. My favorite southeast Michigan drive route, the 120-mile journey tests a vehicle's tech, handling and range. The gas-powered, $45,000 Audi Q5 is the brand's best-selling vehicle, and its SQ5 performance version is the e-tron Sportback's peer in power, looks and handling.
Price them with similar features and an SQ5 costs $63,490 compared to my $79,390 e-Tron. For that premium you also get worse range, longer fuel stops and higher refueling prices. Oh.
I took off for Hell in the SQ5 without a moment's thought. The e-tron, well ... not so much. Drive an EV — especially a non-Tesla EV — outside its metro comfort zone and the trip conforms to your car, not the other way 'round.
I started my e-Tron with 174 miles of charge, and ... but Payne, I thought the advertised range for e-Tron is 218?
Yes, but the first rule of battery-powered cars is you only charge to 100% when needed. Repeated, full charges compromise battery durability. E-tron's 174 miles is shy of the Tesla Model Y's 260 miles (80% of 326-mile full range) — and well short of the gas-powered SQ5's 425-mile range (full tank, no 80% calculations needed).
The dreaded, range anxiety questions crawled into my head. Driving to Hell and back is 108 miles. But I also wanted to detour to Ann Arbor to pick up a Reuben sandwich from my favorite Zingerman's Deli.
How many miles does that add? Will cold December weather sap my range? Can I make it?
Gah, I hate those questions. Tesla answers them with its proprietary Supercharger network. Not e-tron, which is dependent on third-party chargers.