GRR

Audi e-tron Sportback concept revealed

18th April 2017
Bob Murray

The first all-electric Audi e-tron arrives in 2018, but you will have to wait another year for this, the sporty coupe version which was unveiled yesterday (April 18th) at the Shanghai Motor Show.

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The Audi e-tron Sportback concept is every inch a rival for the forthcoming Jaguar I-Pace. Like the British concept, also due on roads around 2019, the e-tron Sportback is a high-riding all-wheel drive, pure electric five-door with dramatic coupe-inspired styling.

While the Audi’s fastback look and 4.9m size suggests an electric A7, the production version of the concept is likely to be a more standalone model, a sportier version of the debut e-tron SUV that’s due for launch next year.

Both the SUV and this coupe can trace their roots back to the original electric e-tron quattro concept from the Frankfurt Motor Show of 2015. With their obvious “non-combustion engine” look – witness the unique proportions and blanked-off grille – they clearly announce to the world their electric intentions, something the production versions of both SUV and coupe are sure to retain. 

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With the latest unveiling, Audi has confirmed its favoured e-tron layout for all future electric Audis: lithium ion battery packs under the floor between the axles and three motors, one up front and two behind, for quattro traction at all four corners. In this Sportback concept form, the drive system is touted as having 429bhp – with a boost mode taking that to 496bhp for short periods. 

Performance, then, shouldn’t be lacking. Audi is quoting 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, which is similar to the claim made for the Jaguar I-Pace (which has 400bhp from its two motors). Audi says by the time production starts in 2019 the e-tron Sportback’s 95 kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery system will be able to offer a range of at least 310 miles (500km), which is what Jaguar and other manufacturers are aiming for with their new-gen electric cars.

The chosen Audi layout, with the batteries low down and between the axles, results in weight distribution of 52:48 front/rear and what Audi says will be “outstanding driving dynamics and safety”.

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One thing for sure, the e-tron Sportback driver should be able to see where they are going: the concept takes Audi’s love affair with hi-tech lights to new heights. Headlights? Hardly. These are digital matrix projectors that “turn light into a versatile, dynamic channel of communication with the surroundings”. We think that means the large fields of LEDs (250 each side!) can be configured to spell out a variety of different graphic patterns or messages.

Audi chief Rupert Stadler said at the Shanghai Motor Show: “Our Audi e-tron will be starting out in 2018 – the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use. We will make this sporty SUV the must-have product of the next decade. Following close on its heels, in 2019, comes the production version of the Audi e-tron Sportback – an emotional coupé version that is thrillingly identifiable as an electric car at the very first glance.”

Audi says it is showing the e-tron Sportback first in China because China is the world’s leading electric vehicle market. There are already about 150,000 charging stations in the country, with another 100,000 due to come on stream by the end of 2017. Audi says in the next five years it will offer five battery-powered e-tron models in China. 

  • Audi

  • e-tron sportback

  • Shanghai 2017

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