The Shanghai show car is based on the same platform and technology that will hit the streets in 2018 with the launch of the e-tron quattro.
Audi’s new e-tron Sportback concept revealed today at the Shanghai auto show closely previews the German luxury brand’s second dedicated electric model.
Tentatively planned to go into production in 2019, the new 5-door hatchback forms part of a multi-model electric-car offensive masterminded by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.
Powered by the same electric driveline, sharing the same lithium-ion battery technology and based on the same platform as the earlier e-tron quattro concept that is set to see production in 2018, the e-tron Sportback has been conceived to rival upcoming production versions of the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQ CUVs and the long-rumored crossover model from’s i brand expected to see showrooms early next decade.
The new 4-seat concept, similar in many respects to parent company’s new I.D. Crozz concept also unveiled at the Shanghai show, combines the sweeping lines of a contemporary hatchback with the wide track stance of a modern day SUV, creating what Audi describes as a new class of car aimed at buyers who like the A7 but seek a more commanding view of the road.
The Sportback’s exterior is sleek yet muscular. Its electric drivetrain does away with the need for a traditional grille and cooling ducts up front, but Audi design boss Marc Lichte nevertheless has provided the vehicle with a familiar single-frame grille graphic as part of a blackened mask, together with a large duct in the hood to extract hot air from the front-mounted electric motor.
The concept uses what Audi describes as next-generation digital lighting technology featuring matrix LED high-beam projectors boasting 1.2 million pixels. It also introduces new daytime running lights that project their light onto the new concept’s bodywork and double as scrolling indicators. They’re accompanied by matrix laser projectors located underneath the front and rear bumpers that project turn signals onto the road.
The e-tron Sportback is powered by three electric motors – one up front sending its drive to the front wheels and two at the rear that propel the rear wheels individually. Combined they deliver 496 hp, along with 590 lb.-ft. (799 Nm) of torque. Audi says that will take the car to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.5 seconds and to a top speed of 131 mph (211 km/h).
In normal driving mode, the front-mounted motor is engaged to drive the front wheels, with the rear motors only providing additional drive under high throttle loads or when sensors detect a loss of grip. The drivetrain can be switched into permanent all-wheel drive, and the rear axle offers full torque vectoring.
All three motors are capable of recovering energy during braking and coasting, with the intensity of energy recovery adjustable through four levels. The car uses a 95-kWh battery that can be charged wirelessly, using an AC home charger or a DC fast charger, with which it can recover 80% state of charge in 30 minutes. Range is predicted to exceed 311 miles (500 km).
The lithium-ion battery used to power the motors is located low in the car’s floorpan, with overall weight distribution at 52/48 front to rear. The new concept weighs a little over 4,400 lbs. (2,000 kg) and makes use of carbon-fiber and aluminum to save weight. It is built on Audi’s C-BEV platform – sister architecture’s MEB structure and Porsche’s J1 platform.
As with the e-tron quattro, Audi hints at plans for several versions of the e-tron Sportback with varying outputs from the car’s 3-motor setup.
The e-tron Sportback’s length and wheelbase is nearly identical to that of the A7, but it’s wider and taller for greater interior 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 center console, plus a slim digital display in front of the passenger.
The car uses cameras in place of rearview mirrors, so accompanying displays have been integrated into the inner doors with the same lines as the dash, virtually extending it. These displays also are featured in the back to provide rear passengers with information or footage from the rearview cameras.
The concept’s driver-assist programs are identical to those featured on the A8, offering piloted drive and piloted park, but Audi says the technology on the final production version of the e-tron Sportback will be even more advanced.