LA motor show unveiling for Audi's second electric SUV, prototypes are caught testing with no disguise
Tom Morgan, deputy digital editor
14 October 2019

Audi will will start diversifying its electric car lineup with a second E-tron SUV, the Sportback, set to make its public debut at November's Los Angeles motor show. 

The more style-focused sibing to the regular E-tron quattro SUV has been undergoing hot weather testing with barely any disguise, allowing us our best look at the car's coupe-influenced design. 

The with sportier styling is designed help it challenge the likes of Jaguar's I-Pace. As well as the more steeply raked rear windowline, it features a lowered stance and a bespoke rear-end profile.

The car sports a more traditional front grille design than the Sportback concept that made its debut at 2017's Shanghai motor show. It does, however, retain digital rear-view cameras in place of traditional door mirrors as first seen on its E-tron sibling. 

The E-tron Sportback appears to use the same kind of rear LED brake light bar first introduced on the A8 limousine and which is quickly becoming a staple of premium Audi models.

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The concept mixes the lines of a liftback with the stance of a four-seat SUV to create what the brand describes as “a new class of car” that will attract buyers who might have previously considered an A7 Sportback but want a more commanding view of the road. The E-tron Sportback concept sits on 23in alloy wheels.

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The production version of the E-tron quattro produces 402bhp and 487lb ft in Boost mode, where it achieves 0-60mph in 5.5sec. The E-tron Sportback is likely to have similar performance.

It will also be capable of the same 150kW charging rate as its sibling, which is already among the best rate of any EV on sale. Expect a range similar to the 248 miles offered by the E-tron, perhaps aided sightly by better aerodynamic performance. 

Several variants will evetually be produced with differing power outputs from the motors. Given the E-tron's £71,000 launch price, the SUV-coupé could start at around £75,000.

Q&A - JAN WISCHERATH, TECHNICAL SYSTEMS PROJECT LEADER

What are the advantages of using the three-motor arrangement?

“This powertrain is very dynamic. During full acceleration, the car sends more power to the rear wheels. In Sport mode, there’s more power at the rear axle all the time. You also have five modes of throttle response – from efficiency to performance – that you can adjust, much like the Drive Select system in our regular cars. Even when the car is in [front-wheel-drive] efficiency mode, all three motors still recuperate energy.”

How have you ensured that the car’s electric powertrain can deliver fun?

“In two ways. Firstly, you have very fast acceleration, because more power is going to the rear axle where you have more traction [due to the weight transfer under acceleration]. Secondly, you have torque vectoring at the rear axle. It helps the car [to become more agile] on tight, curvy roads. This car will drift; I’ve done it!”

The car’s four-wheel drive system is reactive. When will we see a proactive one?

“It’s one of the topics of the next generation we’re already talking about – and we’re not far from the next generation.”

Will we see an hot version?

“It’s something we all want to do, and it is possible to get RS performance from this powertrain. It would need a top speed like an RS model; we could use gears for that.”

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Comments
17

18 April 2017
This is the 3rd VW EV press release, for cars that won't even be around for years to come. Autocar, or should I say VWAutoCar, ENOUGH!

18 April 2017
VW and their friends in the automotive media are doing a good job in spinning all these far off concepts as a way of forgetting dieselgate and presenting the group as forward looking. Presenting three very similar ones in one day seems excessive though. Until something is in production its all hot air and fluff, expecting Autocar to show critical integrity and to call it as such would be a futile task though!

18 April 2017
And why do they have to always put their concept cars on those silly tonka toy wheels – perchance something to do with the current generation of car designer's childhood? No amount of pro-active, reactive torque, hypoallergenic vectoring the world is going to prevent them from destroying your teeth.

18 April 2017
And why do they have to always put their concept cars on those silly tonka toy wheels – perchance something to do with the current generation of car designer's childhood? No amount of pro-active, reactive torque, hypoallergenic vectoring the world is going to prevent them from destroying your teeth.

18 April 2017
Well i had my reservations about Lichte (sp) and his new styling direction for Audi after seeing the awful Q2. However I'm liking this and the Q8. It's definitely got presence.

18 April 2017
Yup.. VAG EV 'line-up' that exists only on a MAC hard drive.

18 April 2017
Another day another VW electric car story in our dearly beloved Autocar. Oh wait it's the second or is it third. Does the opinion piece count? At this rate Autocar will soon have to change its name to e-VW-car! Calm down it is still two years away at least. Perhaps this is how you build up for a genuine 5 star car. Just as good as my "genuine" leather shoes which I'm thinking about passing to one of my vegan friends.

18 April 2017
Not as pretty as the Jag.

18 April 2017
This is just a A7 on stilts, lacks the purity and modernity of the I-Pace.

18 April 2017
Audi Cars are generally amongst the ugliest utilitarian boxes on the road but they have outdone themselves with this one. There was me thinking that it would be hard, nigh on impossible, to make a car uglier than a Q2 and here it is. truly awful.

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