AUDI E-TRON IN ICELAND | #6 – F232 to Mælifell

This is the final part of our road trip through the remote highlands of Iceland with the Audi e-tron. In case you missed it, you can find the start of our adventure here.

From our base camp on the south coast Vík í Mýdral we wanted to explore another spectacular highlands track, the F232.

F232 to Mælifell

This track, also known as Öldufellsleið, starts halfway between Vík and Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

It leads through one of Iceland’s most epic landscapes.

You even have to drive across a waterfall to reach the end of the track, a very special experience.

In dry weather, the F232 is rough but not extremely difficult to drive. Any 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance should be sufficient.

At the end of the F232, you reach the F210.

If you turn east on the F210 you soon get to the deep ford of the Hólmsá river. Since it was way above the wading depth limit of the e-tron we didn’t try to cross the Hólmsá.

If you turn west on the F210, the track leads to the spectacular Mælifellsandur, a huge plain of alluvial sand, which can be quite difficult to cross in certain conditions.

It’s recommended to do the crossing only in a group of cars and to always strictly follow the marked track. Otherwise, you could easily dig your car deep into the mud. Self-recovery without the help of other cars is nearly always impossible.

Since we were alone we were a bit nervous at the beginning but soon relaxed and enjoyed the great experience.

We followed the marked track and had no problems crossing the plain.

At the end of the Sandur, you reach the Mælifell mountain.

It is one of the most iconic mountains in Iceland with a perfectly conical shape, covered in bright green moss, standing alone in the black sand desert.

At Mælifell we turned around and drove the same way back to Vík, where we recharged the e-tron.

The track to Mælifell was the highlight of our trip. This was our 7th trip to Iceland and we’ve seen a lot of great places in the past but Mælifell and the landscapes along the way to Mælifell are really special. It’s now one of our favorite places in Iceland.

Vestrahorn

Our Iceland trip slowly came to the end. We had only a couple of days left. Our last location before returning back to the ferry at Seyðisfjörður was Vestrahorn. We spent two nights in Höfn, where we could easily charge the e-tron between our explorations.

Vestrahon is a spectacular mountain range in the south of Iceland. It is also known as Batman mountain due to its bat-like shape (at least from certain viewpoints). Sadly, this spot is due to its hype on Instagram now being overrun by tourists. A couple of years ago you could spend hours alone there, even at high season. Not anymore. But it’s still a very lovely place and worth a visit, especially at sunset or sunrise.

We spent half a day there and then returned to Höfn for dinner.

Northern Lights

It was already September and the nights were getting longer again. This gave us the chance to chase the Northern Lights at night. Since the weather forecast promised a clear sky combined with a medium solar activity we returned to Vestrahorn at midnight.

Luckily there was some activity right above the mountain range.

The cold color of the Aurora combined with the warm light of the nearly full moon close above the horizon resulted in some nice contrasts.

On the next day, we drove from Höfn to Egilsstaðir, where we spent our last night in Iceland. Actually, we didn’t get much sleep at all during this night but instead decided to drive up to the Eastern Highlands along the F910, hoping to see more Northern Lights. Our effort paid off. The Aurora intensity was much higher than on the previous day. In addition, there was absolutely no light pollution in the highlands and we were completely alone there. We even put our sleeping bags directly on the road and just enjoyed the show. A magic experience.

Seyðisfjörður

Before driving to Seyðisfjörður we cleaned the e-tron in Egilsstaðir. An interesting fact about Iceland is, that while some things like food and accommodation are very expensive, other things for which you have to pay in most countries are completely free. This includes car wash facilities in nearly every city, many hot pools (including the nice Nauthólsvík swimming pool in Reykjavik), and free charging of electric vehicles at many places.

The Norröna was already waiting in Seyðisfjörður.

But we still had a few hours left before boarding and used this time to explore the colorful city of Seyðisfjörður. It was a great warm and sunny last day in Iceland.

Finally, it was time to drive on the Norröna, our home for the next three days.

After one night on the ship, we reached Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. This time we were allowed to leave the ship and explore the city for a couple of hours before continuing our trip across the North Atlantic to Denmark.

Luckily it was again a very smooth ride and nobody got seasick.

From Hirtshals, we drove back to southern Germany and our trip was finished.

This was our 7th trip to Iceland, but the first one with an EV. I’m sure, many of the highland tracks we explored on this trip have never been driven with an EV before. But it worked and we didn’t feel limited at all by using an EV. You just need a bit more planning. That’s all.

The final episode of my videos series is now also online on YouTube:

Charging Statistics

Altogether we have driven 3958 km with the Audi e-tron in Iceland and charged the car 34 times.

We had 3 times access to a 150 kW HPC charger (in Akureyri, Varmahlíð, and Reykjavik), 18 times used a 50 kW DC charger, and 13 times a slow AC charger (often overnight at our hotels). Only once was the charger occupied by another car (in Vík í Mýrdal) and we had to wait for about 30 minutes. But that was not a problem, since our hotel was directly next to the charger. One charger needed a remote activation via the hotline (Varmahlíð) and one charger was working only intermittently (Laugarfell). All the other chargers worked perfectly.

Of these 34 charges, 24 were completely free. For the remaining 10 charges, we paid 250€. But this could have been an even lower number. For just 2 charges we paid 130€. These two charges were on a VIRTA charger. The problem with VIRTA is, that in addition to the kW costs you have to pay an additional parking fee of about 0,55 € per minute while charging. Therefore VIRTA should be avoided in Iceland. The main provider in Iceland is ON, which doesn’t have this problem.

For activation of the chargers, we nearly always used the plugsurfing chip. Only in Husafell plugsurfing was not accepted and we had to use the isorka app instead. The Audi e-tron charging card didn’t work in Iceland, but we used it in Denmark and Germany to get to the ferry and back home.

The lowest battery level we have reached on this trip was 13%. This means we were always very conservative in our planning and could be a bit braver next time.

The Audi e-tron

The average efficiency of the Audi e-tron during the whole trip was 28.8 kWh / 100 km (fully loaded and with offroad tires!). The best efficiency per day was 23.9 kWh / 100 km and the worst per day 42.3 kWh / 100 km. This means even on the worst mountain offroad tracks you have at least a range of 200 km with the e-tron.

The offroad performance of the Audi e-tron in Iceland was really impressive. In the past we had visited the highlands of Iceland with modified 4×4 vehicles like a Nissan Patrol which is known for its extreme offroad capability and the e-tron could easily do the same tracks.

By the way, don’t ever use the term offroad in Iceland. All tracks, even the most difficult ones that require vehicles like a Unimog, are classified as on-road. Offroad in Iceland means leaving a track and driving off the road across nature which is strictly forbidden on the whole island.

The air suspension of the e-tron helps a lot in the highlands. If you lift the car by using the offroad drive select mode it has enough ground clearance for nearly all tracks. And due to the nature of the air suspension system even fully loaded the ground clearance is not reduced.

The main limit of the Audi e-tron in Iceland is its wading depth. According to the manual, the official limit is 300 mm, although Audi India specifies 500 mm for the e-tron (see here). Many of the fords in Iceland are deeper. There is no real workaround for this. Check the water depth by using wading trousers and turn around if it’s too deep or use a different car.

To achieve the best offroad performance with the e-tron it’s important to use the right rims and tires. For offroad it’s always best to use the rims with the smallest possible diameter. For the e-tron this is 19″. The e-tron s would require 20″ due to larger brakes, therefore I would not recommend an e-tron s for offroad trips. On 19″ the standard tire size on the e-tron is 255/55R19. Luckily this is the same size as on many Land Rover models. Therefore a very good selection of AT and MT tires is available in that size. For serious offroad use, one of the best choices is the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac, a modern, high-performance offroad tire with good on-road behavior. We have used this tire during our Iceland trip.

Outlook

We have already made plans for some far more extreme overlanding trips in the near future. Right now we are evaluating if they can be done with an EV. Although I’m 100% convinced that the future is electric I’m not against using ICE vehicles for certain regions where an EV currently just makes no sense. I think this report about the Audi e-tron in Iceland has proven that a lot of interesting overlanding trips can already be done with an EV, way more than what most people think is possible today. But there are still some exceptions. To just give you one example: it currently makes no sense to drive across Mongolia with an EV. It just won’t work.

Whether the conclusion is, to not travel to locations anymore that can’t be reached with an EV or to use an ICE vehicle for certain trips (while using an EV whenever it is possible) is an individual decision.

Our next big adventure will start in summer 2022. Stay tuned!

7 thoughts

  1. In my country and region, we cannot use those as distances between charging points are immense. It may be here many decades from now. The instant torque delivery must be fun.

    1. South Africa? In some parts of SA there are already some good charging options but in the NW and especially in the neighboring countries like Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe an EV is currently not possible.

      1. Please be practical and sensible. Find me a charging point at Tatasberg, Potjiespram, Koringkorrelbaai. Or at Mabuasehube, Ghuragab or Olifantsbos. Overlanding isn’t done in the vicinity of our malls. Honestly, we believe European carmakers are certifiable.

      2. Those places exist, please use GoogleMaps to locate. World-renowned overlander destinations and gateway to Namibia 🇳🇦.

  2. All the places you mention in your last comment are exactly in the areas I said an EV is not possible. I think we have no disagreement here.

  3. Sure they exist. I’ve checked all of them on the map. As written in my last comment they are exactly at the locations I’ve mentioned in my first post where an EV makes no sense. They are in the NW of SA. Maybe you should read my comments again. I still think there is no disagreement. If you want to know what’s possible with an EV in SA I would recommend taking a look at PlugShare.

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