The Volkswagen Audi Group isn’t messing about with electric. The 2016 Paris Motor Show kicked off the German maker’s comeback from the disastrous Dieselgate debacle with the brilliant ID, a Golf-sized concept car. There was also a string of Kombi concepts (which included something called the Bulli) which ended with the ID Buzz and confirmation of its 2022 launch.
Audi, arguably, is far better known for electric motivation. It’s Le Mans cars debuted the e-tron brand and there was even a striking R8 e-tron concept, electric motivation replacing its glorious V10. Actually there were two of those – first in 2009 and then in 2015 with the second-generation R8.
Of course, there’s a far more prosaic model already carrying Audi’s e-tron badge, the A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not even slightly sexy (save for being an Audi), but it’s here ($62,490 + ORC), Audi sold a few and I’ve even driven one.
Delivered as part of the company’s annual press conference, Audi’s most recent e-tron announcement is a big one. Like Jaguar’s I-Pace, Audi is going all-in with an electric-only SUV. It’s not an electrified Q5 or Q7 and it’s not the new Q8, it’s a dedicated e-tron SUV. It doesn’t yet have a name, but according to various reports, it won’t be called Q6.
Audi has already said it will be priced at around €80,000 (around A$125,000) in Germany, rather higher than first suggested. The company had previously said it would be somewhere between the Q5 and Q7 in price. For reference, the current Q7 e-tron diesel PHEV is available for just under $140,000.
Audi unleashed the first of its camouflaged fleet of prototypes at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the month.
The e-tron SUV is powered by three electric motors for a total of 320kW powered by a 95kWh battery pack under the floor. Unsurprisingly, the motors drive all four wheels giving Audi the perfect excuse to slap a Quattro badge on the back. One motor drives the front wheels with one each for the rear, which promises lively handling if Audi so chooses.
The e-tron also handles 150kW fast-charging where available and the press release states that after just 30 minutes, you’ll be ready for the next leg of your long-distance journey. That’s a bit vague, but 150kW fast-charging is pretty serious and highly unlikely to be available in Australia anytime soon.
Audi says it’ll run for 500km (likely to be NEDC figures, but Audi didn’t say), so a reasonable guess would say sensible driving will deliver a handy 400km.
According to Audi’s sales and marketing directory, Dietmar Voggenreiter, the Audi EV shares a lot with the Porsche Mission E cars, mostly the drivetrain. That makes a fair bit of sense as the SUV will be followed by the e-tron Sportback, which looks suspiciously like a slightly lower slung SUV with a coupe roofline. The two Mission E cars are a lower-slung coupe rooflined sedan and a the Cross Turismo SUV. So one imagines they are strikingly similar underneath the skin.
Audi has built a whole new, carbon neutral factory in Brussels and there are already 250 test vehicles in circulation across the world, covered in the shrinking violet camouflage that you see in the photos.
The e-tron SUV is the first of three vehicles scheduled for release by 2020, with the e-tron Sportback (pictured above) and a compact class car (ie A3-sized) out and about.
And that’s about all we know about the e-tron so far. Audi’s marketing department has dreamt up a hare-brained scheme to have us all spotting and photographing the 250 prototypes to then upload to a dedicated e-tron site.
The drip-feed has commenced. Expect a long, long publicity campaign as the late-2018 launch draws nearer. Audi Australia confirmed to me that the e-tron is coming to Australia and will be here in 2019. Nothing about pricing, though.