It would be unfair to call the Audi R8 e-tron and the Tesla P85D direct competitors. One is a two-door supercar, the other is a posh four-door super saloon. Different experience, different buyers.
But given the Tesla's effective benchmark status in the performance EV market, it must, by default, answer all challengers. Audi has come calling. The firm's latest R8 e-tron has arrived at the Geneva Motor Show, and the performance gap between the two EV goliaths has never been smaller.
Although power output might be the figure that delegates the e-tron's fun-factor, its real achievement comes in the form of range. The new R8 has an all-electric driving range of 279.6 miles, which is more than double its previous figure (133.6 miles) and even pips the most efficient Model S by just about 10 miles. According to Audi, the dramatic range increase comes partly from the R8's lightweight space frame chassis, but also its uprated power unit. Located in the car's center tunnel, the e-tron packs a new lithium-ion battery pack, which has grown to allot 92 kWh of charge. Expectedly, power output has grown too... by quite a lot. The e-tron now summons up a vigorous 456 horsepower and 679 lb-ft of torque – enough to motivate the R8 from zero to 60 mph in less than 3.9 seconds, and up to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. The grunt is sent to dual electric motors, but unlike in the Tesla P85D, the R8 fits both to its rear axle.
For now, the high-powered P85D retains the performance top trumps with a searing zero to 60mph dash of 3.2 seconds and 691 horsepower in the reserves, however it appears Audi will have a pound for pound competitor on the way in the near future. The firm says it will continue to use the R8 e-tron to “help in creating a vehicle with a sedan character.” Pew, pew. Shots fired. If electric vehicles aren't your cup of tea, the R8 still delivers in the internal combustion department. Audi supplements the e-tron model with the more traditional R8 V10 and V10 Plus models, which offer up a punchy 540 and 610 horsepower, respectively. These are good things.