All-electric drive, absolute luxury and Sportback design – the newest Audi e-tron breaks cover in LA.

20 November, 2019

The covers have come off the second all-electric, series production Audi model, with the official world premiere in Los Angeles today of the Audi e-tron Sportback. This new model brings the sweeping, coupe-like lines of the Audi Sportback design language to the all-electric class, in a four-door SUV that boasts up to 300kW of power and a range of up to 446 kilometres from a single battery charge. 

The e-tron Sportback though, is far from just a different body variant of the original Audi e-tron unveiled last year. This new model introduces a raft of new technology and advancements in the e-mobility space, including its digital matrix LED headlights which are a first for a mass-production vehicle, as well as even greater range from its lithium-ion battery.

The design is obviously Audi and obviously e-tron, with the Singleframe and its vertical struts in a light platinum grey, and the yellow brake calipers now signs of the brand’s all-electric models.

The designers also varied the signature at the broad rear diffuser, drawing attention to the fact that there is no need for exhausts on an all-electric vehicle.

Then there is the logo on the electric charging flap which features the high-voltage signal colour orange, which can also be applied to the brake calipers on request, but quite aside form specific design cues, the new e-tron Sportback has a look all its own that not only identifies it as an Audi e-tron, but also serves a practical purpose. Form and function working together.

In conjunction with the S line exterior and virtual exterior mirrors, the design of the new e-tron Sportback achieves an outstanding drag coefficient value of just 0.25, which is actually better than its Audi e-tron sister model. This is largely due to the eye-catching coupé body shape and the associated lower aerodynamic drag behind the car. This in turn contributes to the greater range from a single charge – as much as 10km of increased range because of the new body shape.

The Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro, with a battery system storing 95 kWh of gross energy (86.5 kWh net), is powered by an asynchronous electric motor fitted to each axle that is fed with three-phase current by the power electronics. 

As well as the myriad charging options, its recuperative abilities allow it to extend the vehicle’s range, so that during deceleration actions of up to 0.3 g – which applies to over 90 percent of such actions in everyday driving – the high-voltage battery is charged by the electric motors, primarily by the rear electric motor, which act as generators in these situations. The recuperation system provides for variable regulation of energy recuperation between both electric modules – both in coasting mode as well as during braking. The degree of coasting recuperation can be set to three stages by means of paddles on the steering wheel and is even more strongly differentiated than on the e-tron.

Outputting 265kW and 561Nm the two standard electric motors propel the new e-tron Sportback from 0 to 100km/h in just 6.6 seconds on the way to a governed top speed of 200km/h.

But by shifting from drive range D to S and really massaging the accelerator pedal, the driver can activate boost mode, where the drive generates 300kW of output and 664Nm of torque, which changes the whole sprint equation and sees 0 to 100km/h sorted in just 5.7 seconds.

Two-stage planetary gearboxes with one gear range transfer the torque from the electric motors to the axles and a switch, which the driver can operate with the thumb and forefinger, is used to select the gears.  

Electric all-wheel drive – the new generation of quattro – ensures outstanding traction and dynamism on any terrain, continuously regulating the ideal drive torque distribution between both axles – within fractions of a second.

Handling is further enhanced by the low position of the battery which aids centre of gravity, as well as the combination of five-link suspension, progressive steering and the electrohydraulic brake system.

Add to that the adaptive air suspension with controlled dampers (allowing ride height variation of up to 76mm) and the Audi drive select with its seven driver profiles, and driving dynamics take on a whole new dimension.

Aside the from the svelte, slippery body and the outstanding power output and delivery, the eyes of the new e-tron, the top-of-the-line digital matrix LED headlights, are a worldwide first in a production vehicle. Broken down into minute pixels, their light can illuminate the road in high resolution. The design is based on a technology abbreviated as DMD (digital micromirror device) and is also used in many video projectors. At its heart is a small chip containing one million micromirrors, each of whose edge length measures just a few hundredths of a millimetre. With the help of electrostatic fields, each individual micromirror can be tilted up to 5000 times per second and depending on the setting, the LED light is either directed via the lenses onto the road or is absorbed in order to mask out areas of the light beam.

This means it can generate dynamic leaving and coming-home animations that appear as projections on a wall or on the ground. This presentation transforms the area in front of the car into a carefully illuminated stage and it also supplements the high-beam light by masking out other road users with even greater accuracy. 

Inside, the design and layout are immediately familiar with the Audi MMI touchscreens to control all vehicle systems, as well as the Audi virtual cockpit and voice control. Finish and materials are of the highest order and there is a feeling of tremendous space for all of its five passengers as well as generous storage for gear. Despite the Sportback design, the rear headroom is just 20 millimetres less than in the Audi e-tron, and storage for lugguage is 615 litres as standard or 1655 litres with the rear seats folded down.

All of the brand’s leading driver assistance, infotainment and connectivity technology is incorporated or available as part of the new model and the e-tron Sportback will also offer a number of ‘on demand’ systems (in Europe) where customers can purchase additional software features and download them to the vehicle.

In addition, the myAudi app can connect the car to a smartphone, which allows the owner of the Audi e-tron Sportback to manage all charging processes remotely, and on long-distance trips, the e-tron route planner displays the necessary charging stops along the way – both in the app as well as in the MMI. In the process, it continuously updates the charge planning based on the traffic situation and taking into account driver behaviour. 

Like its e-tron sibling, the new Audi e-tron Sportback is being built in the CO2-neutral plant in Brussels, and will debut on the European market early next year. At launch in Germany, it will be offered with two power outputs, the e-tron Sportback 55 quattro and the e-tron Sportback 50 quattro and Audi will offer a limited-edition model ‘edition one’ to mark the launch. International distribution will follow, with the e-tron Sportback expected to touch down in Australia around the second quarter of next year. 

Australian specification and pricing will be confirmed closer to the local launch date.