Audi has pulled the wraps off this striking e-tron Sportback concept at the Shanghai motor show. The concept previews Audi’s second series-production electric model due in 2019. Audi said its sleek, new EV is aimed squarely at Jaguar’s forthcoming electric SUV, the I-Pace. The e-tron Sportback shares its powertrain with the 2015 e-tron quattro concept, which previewed Audi’s first production-EV due in 2018.
Audi’s latest concept mixes the lines of a liftback with the stance of a four-seat SUV. It creates what the brand describes as “a new class of car” that will attract buyers who may have previously considered an A7 but want a more commanding view of the road. The e-tron Sportback sits on 23-inch alloy wheels.
The car’s electric drivetrain negates the necessity for a conventional front grille through which air can flow, but Audi has applied its familiar design language to the front end of the car. However, there is a new ‘bridge’, formed by one vent at the top of the grille and another at the front of the bonnet, through which air can be channeled.
The car uses what Audi describes as “next-generation digital lighting technology” to enable the use of matrix LED full-beam headlights. It also introduces new daytime running lights that project their light onto reflective sections of bodywork, instead of directly outwards, and also double as scrolling indicators. They’re accompanied by matrix laser lights located under the front and rear bumpers that project turn signals onto the road.
The e-tron Sportback has two motors that power the rear wheels and one that powers the fronts, with the drivetrain producing maximum combined outputs of 503hp and 800Nm. This enables a 0-100kph time of 4.5sec and a restricted top speed of 210kph.
In most driving conditions, just the front motor is used, with the two rear units adding torque in high-load or low-grip conditions. The drivetrain can be switched to permanent all-wheel drive should the driver need it, and the rear axle shuffles power between the wheels via torque vectoring.
All three motors can recover energy during braking and coasting, and the intensity of energy recovery is adjustable through four levels.
The concept car uses 95kWh batteries that can be charged wirelessly using an AC home charger or a DC fast charger. The driving range from fully charged batteries is expected to exceed 500km.
The battery pack is located low in the car’s structure and the overall weight distribution is 52/48 front/rear. The car weighs just over 2,000kg and makes use of carbonfibre and aluminium in its structure (which is based around the MLB platform) to keep the weight as low as possible. The e-tron Sportback’s length and wheelbase are almost identical to an A7’s, but it’s wider and stands 1.53m tall — which is 110mm taller than the A7 — to offer more cabin space.
Audi has evolved its virtual cockpit dashboard with touch-sensitive surfaces and a wider wraparound design. There’s a digital instrument cluster, two touchscreens with haptic feedback in the centre console, and a slim digital display in front of the passenger.
The car uses cameras in place of rear-view mirrors. The accompanying displays have been integrated into the inner surface of the front doors.
Driver-assist programmes include systems such as piloted drive and piloted park, but Audi says the technology on the production car will be even more advanced.
Several variants will be produced with differing power outputs from the motors.
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