“The future is electric:” Audi is staying consistently true to its strategic alignment by presenting the second model in its e-tron product line. The Audi e-tron Sportback is a dynamic SUV coupé offering up to 300 kW of power and a range of up to 446 kilometres (277.1 miles). Its digital matrix LED headlights are a new feature now available for the first time in a mass-production vehicle. Their light is broken down into tiny pixels and can be controlled with exceptional precision.
Elegant, efficient, expressive
The Audi e-tron Sportback combines the power of a spacious SUV with the elegance of a four-door coupé and the progressive character of an electric car. It's 4,901 millimetres (16.1 ft) long, 1,935 millimetres (6.3 ft) wide and 1,616 millimetres (5.3 ft) high. Its roof extends flat over the muscular body, dropping down steeply to the rear—in typical coupé style— and flowing into the steeply raked D-pillars. The lower edge of the third side window rises towards the rear—a typical Sportback feature.
With the octagonal Singleframe, the powerful contours above the wheels, and the sculptural rear end, the Audi e-tron Sportback is perfectly aligned with the brand’s design idiom. Details signal to the outside world that the SUV coupé is fully electric. The largely enclosed Singleframe with its vertical struts is presented in a light platinum grey—a specific identifying feature of the e-tron models. In the lower area of the matrix LED headlights, four horizontal segments create the e-tron-specific signature in the daytime running lights. This is taken up at numerous points on the model and interpreted in three dimensions, for example, on the striking side sills. Their black inlays draw the eye to where the battery, and thus the energy centre, of the Audi e-tron Sportback can be found. The designers also varied the signature at the broad diffuser, drawing attention to the absence of exhaust tailpipes. A light strip connects the LED lights to one another.
The S line model places particular emphasis on the sporting DNA of the Audi e-tron Sportback. It is equipped as standard with 20-inch wheels and sport air suspension. The more distinctively contoured bumper is flanked by more expressive air curtains, which improve the air flow.
The Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro takes just 6.6 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62.1 mph), and its top speed is electronically limited to 200 km/h (124.3 mph). By shifting from drive range D to S and fully depressing the accelerator pedal, the driver can activate boost mode. Here, the drive generates 300 kW of output and 664 Nm (489.7 lb-ft) of torque for eight seconds. This enables the SUV coupé to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.7 seconds. Two-stage planetary gearboxes with one gear range transfer the torque from the electric motors to the axles. A switch, which the driver can operate with the thumb and forefinger, is used to select the gears. It is embedded in an elegant lever that is set low above the centre tunnel and serves as a hand rest.
Electric all-wheel drive ensures outstanding traction and dynamism on any terrain. With it, Audi is writing a new chapter in the history of quattro drive. It continuously regulates the ideal drive torque distribution between both axles—within fractions of a second. In most driving situations, the Audi e-tron Sportback relies exclusively on its rear electric motor—for exceptional efficiency. If the driver requests more output than it can provide, the front unit is instantly activated. This also happens predictively before slip occurs in icy conditions or when cornering fast, or if the car understeers or oversteers.
A key factor behind the sporty character and outstanding transverse dynamics is the low installation position of the drive components—resulting in a center of gravity that is much lower than in a conventional SUV. All of the heaviest components are concentrated in the center of the vehicle. The axle load distribution with a ratio of almost 50:50 is perfectly balanced; the self-steering behavior is neutral.
The charging line up
On long-distance routes, the Audi e-tron Sportback 55 quattro can charge with direct current (DC) at up to 150 kW at fast-charging stations. In just under half an hour, the battery reaches 80 percent of its capacity—sufficient for the next leg of its long-distance trip. The e-tron Sportback 50 quattro can charge at up to 120 kW and achieves an identical charge status in the same time.
Charging at public AC charging stations can be performed using a standard mode-3 cable. Up to 11 kW of power is available here, which can be increased to 22 kW with an optional second on-board charging device that will be available in summer 2020. Audi’s own charging service, the e-tron Charging Service, provides easy access to almost 120,000 public charging points in 21 European countries – and the number is rising. Whether AC or DC, 11 or 150 kW—a single card is all that is required to start the process. The Plug & Charge function, which is also due to follow in 2020, will make charging even more convenient: The car authorises itself at the charging station and activates it.
Audi also offers a range of solutions for charging in the garage at home, depending on the capacity of the domestic power supply. The standard compact charging system is suitable for a simple 230-volt connection and for a 400-volt three-phase outlet with an output of up to 11 kW. The optional charging stem connect will be available for ordering at market launch. It offers smart charging functions, for example preferred charging at low-cost times. The combination with a suitable home energy management system allows the vehicle to be charged preferably with self-generated solar power, provided that the house is equipped with a photovoltaic system.
The interior of the Audi e-tron Sportback is an elegant lounge featuring a seamless blend of design and technology. A generous arc that spans the instrument panel, extending from door to door, harmoniously integrates the cover for the Audi virtual cockpit. Its sleek display stands visually free in space. The wrap-around in the door trims also integrates the screens for the optional virtual exterior mirrors. The instrument panel with its two touch displays is angled towards the driver and therefore particularly ergonomic. When deactivated, the upper of these blends almost invisibly into the large gloss-black surround. Open sidewalls at the centre tunnel console emphasise the impression of lightness.
In every equipment line—along with the basic line, there is the interior design selection and S line interior—the Audi e-tron Sportback features carefully coordinated upholstery materials, colours, and inlays. For the front seats, customers can choose between the standard design, sport seats, S sport seats, and the customized contour seats, with optional ventilation and massage functions. Their stitching pattern is reminiscent of electric circuits and can be enhanced with optional bright orange contrasting stitching and piping. Little details create highlights: The optional contour/ambient lighting package illuminates surfaces subtly and edges sharply. It also issues a brief welcome jingle over the audio system when the motor starts.
When the Audi e-tron Sportback is driven in an urban setting, its interior remains almost completely silent—thanks to sophisticated soundproofing and aeroacoustic measures. This ensures that HiFi sound is even more enjoyable, especially with the optional Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D Sound System on board. It allows the music to be enjoyed precisely how it was recorded.