words: Tim Enders, photos: Sam Dobbins
There is no doubt that the arrival of the Audi e-tron announces a paradigm shift for car ownership. Electrics aren’t just coming. They’re here. But, does that mean a fundamental shift in the enthusiast ownership experience?
For a long time, such a discussion was academic. Though e-tron crossovers are in the hands of early adopter hand-raisers who’ve begun to log miles, the sheer newness of the e-tron, combined with its obvious drivetrain differences, mean there’s just not a lot out there yet for owners who want modifications. Fortunately, that’s starting to change. Vossen and Thule are two of the first to bring e-tron specific products to market. The two companies got together to outfit an e-tron painted in bold Antigua Blue with some new products for a recent Thule brand installation in Colorado; giving us a glimpse into the beginning of what’s possible.
Often the most obvious modification to any car build are the wheels. That’s no different here. From Vossen came a set of their new Hybrid Forged HF-3 wheels in Gloss Graphite Polished finish, in a 22×10.5 fitment and shod with Toyo Proxes ST tires. The HF-3 uses Vossen’s proprietary Hybrid Forged manufacturing process, which involves putting a cast wheel through a special machining process, which stretches and compresses the barrel material in order to achieve the desired final width. It also has the effect of changing the grain structure of the aluminum to yield a barrel that’s both stronger and lighter than a standard cast barrel, similar to a forged wheel. The HF-3 is available in two standard finishes, as well as eight different “custom” finishes and a choice of three profiles – flat, deep, or super deep, with a variety of offsets. This particular wheel design compliments the e-tron nicely, and when combined with the sport tread pattern on the Toyos, gives it a much more aggressive stance than stock.
When the e-tron arrived in the Mile-High State, it was fitted with the latest from Thule before going on display. This included a new line of products which are due to hit the market this fall and winter – the Vector Alpine cargo box, due in October, and the Evo Flush rack system, due in January of 2020. The Vector is the new top of the line cargo box from Thule, and it shows. It’s complete with features like synchronized lid lifters to get the box open for you, and LED interior lighting to let you see what you’re doing during those early morning and late night packing sessions. The Vector also has sleek lines that we think compliment the e-tron’s design nicely. Of course, to mount the box you’ll need a rack system and the Evo Flush is the perfect one for the job.
While a roof rack, a cargo box, and some wheels might not seem like incredible modifications to drivers of more “traditional” Audis, they’re a great start for owners to put their own personal stamp on Audi’s newest electric vehicle. Where it goes from here remains to be seen – lower suspension, lighter carbon-ceramic brakes… a Tony Stark-esque sound generator to make the e-tron sound like a high-rev R8 Mk1 V8 or an iconic 5-cylinder turbo. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.