Improved aerodynamics and rear-wheel drive bring extended 278-mile range for Audi's second EV

Audi has revealed its second bespoke electric vehicle, the E-tron Sportback, which already has a raft of technical improvements over its E-tron sibling launched last year. 

Revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, the coupe is the same weight, length and height as the E-tron and from the B-Pillar forward is identical. The lower part of the rear door, bumper and rear lights are also the same, while the obvious difference - the rear roof line - was cut from the A7

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That roofline makes the car slightly more aerodynamic than the E-tron, with a 0.25 Cd compared with the E-tron’s 0.27, giving the Sportback an extra 6.2 miles of range. 

Changes from the E-tron include decoupling the front and rear axles so the model can be rear-wheel drive, which adds another 6.2 miles of range. Brake pads have been optimised with stronger springs so there’s no friction when not required, creating an extra 1.9 miles of range. Audi has also swapped two water pumps for battery cooling to one larger one, saving weight and cost and using less energy, which adds up to 1.2 miles of range. The useability of power from the battery has increased by 88% to 91% stage of charge, creating more than 6.2 miles of range. 

Our Verdict

Audi E-tron 55 Quattro 2019 road test review - hero front

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All in all, the most powerful E-tron Sportback 55 offers 278 miles of range between charges on WLTP testing. A lesser-powered E-tron Sportback 50 does 216 miles but will not be sold in the UK. 

While the E-tron Sportback will always have the advantage of a coupe roofline, all other efficiency tweaks will launch in an updated E-tron, arriving next year.

The range-topping E-tron Sportback 55 delivers 355bhp and 414lb of torque from two electric motors and a 95kWh battery, achieving 0-62mph in 6.6secs. In sport mode, the model features a boost mode, generating 402bhp and 490lb ft of torque for eight seconds, hitting the benchmark sprint in 5.7secs. Audi claims, when braking, the SUV can recuperate up to 30% of its total range through regeneration. 

Inside, the E-tron Sportback is identical to the E-tron, featuring a dual touchscreen set-up angled towards the driver and optional virtual wing mirrors. The only differences are 20mm less rear head room thanks to the coupe roof line and 615 litres of luggage space, 45 litres less than the E-tron. 

The model features digital matrix LED headlights, a first for a mass-production vehicle. It uses hardware found in video projectors, which is broken down into 1.2m micro-mirrors. Each can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second with the help of electrostatic fields. The lights illuminate lanes and adjust dynamically when the driver changes lane. It also draws attention to any pedestrians it spots. 

The technology allows for projections when the car is stationary. By mid 2020, it will offer five different animations to greet you, which are projected on either a wall or floor. Audi light expert Stephan Berlitz  said: “We are starting a new era for lighting. In future, [this technology] could allow for car-to-car communications.”

As with the E-tron, this model can be charged at 150kW fast-charging stations, giving 80% of charge in under half an hour. 

UK pricing for the E-tron Sportback 55 is not yet confirmed but costs €83,150 (£71,291) in Germany. First deliveries begin in spring 2020.

Jens van Eikels, head of E-tron line, said Audi had considered a number of vehicle types for its second E-tron model. “We looked at some crazy things, A pick-up - that was very interesting, a three-box saloon but the coupe was definitely the best looking. We took the roofline from A7 Sportback. This model is very sporty and more progressive than the E-tron.”

When asked if we would see a hot E-tron Sportback, he said: “We will tell you more at the beginning of next year. There could be something coming.”

Eikels added that no additional models planned on the MLB Evo platform used for the E-tron models. “We will build these cars in China [as well as elsewhere] with our partner FRW so we can split investment. We will make some money.”


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Join the debate


20 November 2019

$100K for this nonsense? Go home Audi. You failed miserably 

20 November 2019
FRI2 wrote:

$100K for this nonsense? Go home Audi. You failed miserably 

Where in the article does it say $100k?

20 November 2019

It must take real skill to take an unusual and interesting concept car as originally presented and turn it into something this dull and uninspired. Well done Audi. Only job left is to screw up the e-tron GT design.

20 November 2019

What a very grey car. The designers need to nip down the road to VW and take a look at what they're doing with assorted IDs, then may chuck out all the clutter add a bit of light and above all, make it look less like a badly proportioned Audi.

20 November 2019

And progress being made by small changes to increase range, now please stick it in on the photocopier reduce dimensions by 25%, battery size by 25%, remove gimmicks and set price to around £39k and you'll be onto a winner (although sales of the Q5 might take a dive) 

20 November 2019

Of all the SUV coupes Audi nails the concept better than any other, but that doesn't mean to say the Q3 Sportback, E-Tron Sportback and Q8 are exactly stunners. Presence and distinctiveness, yes, elegant and good looking, no!

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