Audi’s electric range is finally taking shape, now that the E-Tron GT and Q4 E-Tron have joined the existing E-Tron crossover. And in case you thought the E-Tron branding couldn’t possibly get more puzzling, Audi just revealed a concept of the A6 E-Tron it expects to hit showrooms sometime in the next two years.
It’s bothering my obsessive-compulsive tendencies that E-Tron now exists as a standalone nameplate and a version of existing Audi models, but I’ll try my best to keep that down to focus on the concept itself, which looks pretty good. The A6 E-Tron debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show today, and marks the first Audi we’ve seen based on the company’s Premium Platform Electric architecture.
Audi calls the A6 E-Tron a sportback, which followers of the brand may argue actually make it more of an A7 by nature. According to Audi, the A6 name was chosen to link this car to one of the brand’s most historically significant models, and dimensionally it’s equivalent to the existing A6. Here I am again talking about the car’s name — you just can’t get away from it with these new electric Audis.
The design you see here is reportedly 95 percent representative of the final model, which isn’t bad news considering that the A6 E-Tron cleans up for the most part. Sure, it’s derivative in places — the high beltline of the profile evokes the departed Ford Fusion in my mind’s eye, and the way the headlights meet the grille — I’m sorry, the inverted face, as Audi calls it — strikes me as remarkably similar to the Mustang Mach-E’s furrowed brow. Neither of these familiarities are necessarily bad though. Don’t hold your breath for images of the interior yet — Audi is saving those for later.
Audi designers say the tautness of the roofline and width of the track on this concept will be scaled back slightly ahead of production, though the black trim near the floor that looks like a cutaway panel will be retained. It’s a neat visual trick that slims the car down somewhat, and I like the way it trails toward the rear bumper. There are projectors at the corners that beam light at the ground to greet passengers and signal turns that may or may not make it to the final iteration. There’s a precedent for similar tech in road cars already, though, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable if it did come to pass.
In terms of performance figures, Audi is mostly keeping those close to the chest for now. This concept packs a pair of electric motors combining for 469 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. That’s projected to get the A6 E-Tron to 62 mph from a standstill in under four seconds.
Turning to range, Audi claims the A6 E-Tron will return more than 700 km on a full charge (434 miles), though under the generous WLTP cycle. The E-Tron GT is rated for 298 miles by that same measure, so the A6 E-Tron is sure to bring a huge range improvement to the brand even if the actual, real-world distance falls short of the WLTP-based projection. For reference, the latest Tesla Model S starts at an EPA-estimated 412 miles of range.
The A6 E-Tron’s efficiency is helped by an ultralow drag coefficient of 0.22 — one of the lowest out there, matching Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class — though there’s no confirmation on whether those slight exterior changes to the production car will dent that somewhat. Like other new electric Audis, it supports 800-volt peak charging that aims to replenish 300 km of range in just 10 minutes.
As far as timing of the sedan’s arrival, for now Audi is saying only that its first PPE-based cars will emerge in the second half of next year. That will likely begin with the Q6 E-Tron, before this A6. In the meantime, I’m going to try and work out a flowchart to make sense of all these E-Trons.