Full-speed (sort-of) in the Audi E-tron

Following its U.S. debut at the Los Angeles auto show, we got a chance to sample the battery-powered sports car along a scenic stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway.

The bright red show car is the same prototype our man Georg Kacher sampled in Europe, but has since seen its top speed lifted from a fast crawl to a more informative 55 mph. For comparison, the R8 on which the E-tron is loosely based produces 317 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm in V-8 form, and sends 90 percent of it to the rear wheels. The carefully configured seat of our pants tells us the E-tron might get a jump immediately off the line, but would watch the R8 fly by as soon as its 4.2-liter V-8 took a deep breath.

The E-tron introduces an entirely new interior design language for Audi, one that will likely inform other future models. That could mean more austere dash layouts with floating center consoles.

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