Audi has revealed its second bespoke electric vehicle, the e-tron Sportback. The SUV-coupé already has a raft of technical improvements over its e-tron sibling that debuted last year.
The brand-new model is the same weight, length and height as the standard e-tron and is identical from the B-Pillar forward. The lower part of the rear door, bumper and rear lights are also the same, while the obvious difference – the rear roof line – was inspired by the Audi A7 Sportback.
The new roofline makes the car slightly more aerodynamic than the e-tron, with a 0.25 Cd compared with the e-tron’s 0.27, giving the Sportback an additional 10km of range.
Changes from the e-tron include decoupling the front and rear axles so the model can be rear-wheel drive only, which adds another 10km of range. Brake pads have been optimised with stronger springs so there’s no friction when not required, creating an extra 3km of range. Audi has also swapped two water pumps for battery cooling to a single, larger one, thus saving weight and cost, while using less energy, which adds another 2km to the car’s range. Energy efficiency of the battery has improved, creating more than 10km of range.
All in all, the most powerful e-tron Sportback 55 offers up to 450km of range between charges on WLTP testing. A lesser-powered e-tron Sportback 50 has a range of up to 350km. In comparison, the e-tron 55 has a range of up to 400km with the entry level E-Tron 50 having a range of up to 300km on a single charge.
While the e-tron Sportback will always have the advantage of a coupé roofline, all other efficiency tweaks will make their way into an updated e-tron, arriving next year.
The range-topping e-tron Sportback 55 delivers 360hp and 561Nm of torque from two electric motors and a 95kWh battery, achieving 0-100kph in 6.6sec. When in Sport mode, the model gets a boost feature, which generates 408hp and 664Nm of torque for 8sec, hitting the benchmark sprint in 5.7sec. Audi claims that the SUV-coupé can recuperate up to 30 percent of its total range through brake regeneration.
Inside, the e-tron Sportback is identical to the e-tron, featuring a dual-touchscreen setup angled towards the driver and optional virtual wing mirrors. The only differences are 20mm less rear headroom (thanks to the coupésque roof line) and 615 litres of luggage space – 45 litres less than the e-tron.
The model features digital matrix LED headlights, a first for a mass-production vehicle. It uses hardware found in video projectors, which is broken down into 1 million micro-mirrors. Each can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second with the help of electrostatic fields. The lights automatically illuminate lanes and adjust dynamically when the driver changes lane. The light also automatically draws attention to any pedestrians it detects, thereby reducing the danger of overlooking pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the lane.
The technology allows for projections when the car is stationary. By mid 2020, it will offer five different animations to greet you, which are projected on either a wall or floor. Audi light expert Stephan Berlitz said, “We are starting a new era for lighting. In future, [this technology] could allow for car-to-car communications.”
As with the e-tron, the Sportback can be charged at 150kW fast-charging stations, giving 80 percent charge in under half an hour.
Jens van Eikels, head of the e-tron line, said that Audi had considered a number of vehicle types for its second e-tron model. “We looked at some crazy things, A pick-up (that was very interesting) a three-box saloon but the coupé was definitely the best looking. We took the roofline from A7 Sportback. This model is very sporty and more progressive than the e-tron.”
When asked if we would see a hot e-tron Sportback, he said, “We will tell you more at the beginning of next year. There could be something coming.”
Eikels added that no additional models planned on the MLB Evo platform used for the e-tron models. “We will build these cars in China [as well as elsewhere] with our partner FRW so we can split investment. We will make some money.”
For India, Audi is expected to launch the standard e-tron in the coming months with the carmaker having previewed the model in India in left-hand-drive spec earlier in the year. Aside from the launch of the all-electric SUV, Audi is also set to launch its new A8 luxury sedan in India before the year ends.