Audi’s e-tron Sportback concept has been revealed at the Shanghai motor show, and while there’s plenty about the fast-backed SUV’s design that’s wild and fanciful, the German carmaker is adamant that it is destined for the showroom. Audi says it’ll be on sale in 2019.
A sportier, swoopier companion to the already-revealed e-tron Quattro concept (which is itself due to morph into a production car in 2018), the e-tron Sportback features a lower roofline with a pronounced taper. Audi’s forthcoming Q8 has already been touted as the brand’s answer to the BMW X6, but the e-Tron Sportback is even closer in form factor to the Bavarian SUV.
But under the skin, it bears a closer resemblance to an American – the Tesla Model X. Powered exclusively by electricity, the e-tron Sportback is equipped with a 95kWh lithium-ion battery pack that supplies power to three electric motors: one turning the front wheels, and one on each rear wheel.
Combined system output is a stout 320kW and 800Nm – rising to 370kW for short bursts – which is enough to launch the e-tron Sportback to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. It won’t shame a Model X P100D in a straight line, but sub-five zero-to-hundred numbers are still admirable for an SUV.
Under most conditions, only the front motor is in play. The two rear motors only begin to supply drive under hard acceleration or when the car is put into sports mode, but when they do they also enable a torque vectoring function to help the car fight understeer and corner harder.
A near-neutral 52:48 weight distribution also aids dynamics, as does adaptive air suspension that actively reduces ride height as speed increases.
Measuring 4.9m long, 1.98m wide, 1.53m tallandstanding astride a 2.93m wheelbase, the e-tron Sportback is roughly similar in size to the present-generation Audi A7 Sportback.
Charging can be accomplished by a regular cable or via a built-in inductive loop on the underside of the car. At full capacity, the e-tron Sportback’s battery can supply enough electrons for 500km of driving, and when hooked up to a 150kW fast charger, it can be charged up with 400km worth of energy in just 30 minutes.
On the inside, the e-tron Sportback’s forward-looking cabin design is festooned with electronic displays. The latest evolution of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument panel sits behind the steering wheel, while an expansive screen atop the centre stack forms the primary infotainment display.
Beneath it is another digital display for ventilation controls and a futuristic interpretation of Audi’s MMI touchpad interface, while a wide LED strip spans the passenger side of the dashboard and displays clock and climate info.
Four individual seats are separated by a tall centre console with open storage cubbies, but expect a more conventional interior in 2019 when the e-tron Sportback concept will hit showrooms as Audi’s second EV-only offering.