Audi just dropped a new concept vehicle at this year’s Auto Shanghai show, offering us a glimpse at the brand’s potential upcoming high-tech SUV future. It’s called the e-tron Sportback, and to our eyes, it’s a weird amalgamation of SUV and lifted hatchback, with a self-described coupe-like roofline to boot. And of course, what futuristic concept would be complete without an all-electric powertrain, geometric shapes, and surplus of advanced lighting elements?
The Audi e-tron Sportback certainly has a lot of lighting – check out the attached video to see what I’m talking about. The brand says it included matrix LEDs from front to rear, with two light fields in the fascia sporting roughly 250 LEDs a piece to create all kinds of signals and graphics. Basically, it’s a light show of “animated movements and signatures,” offering features like a welcome signal when the car is started or the doors are opened.
The lights are also practical, offering enhanced safety with daytime running lights for driving with the sun up, “Miniscule Digital Matrix” projector lights when the sun is down, and an illuminated Four Ring badge in the nose to show off whenever you please.
Audi is quick to remind us that it was one of the first to incorporate LED lighting on passenger cars, and this concept looks to be the next step in that technology.
A production variant of the concept is expected to arrive in 2019. Read on for specs on the powertrain and more info on the cool tech onboard.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why It Matters
Note: 2015 Audi e-tron Concept pictured on the left, current Audi e-tron Sportback Concept pictured on the right.
This latest e-tron concept is actually a follow-up to the e-tron concept SUV that Audi brought to the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015. That model is expected to get a production version next year, followed a year later by the Sportback version featured above. Rupert Sadler, Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG, calls the production e-tron set to arrive in 2018 “the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use.”
Back to the Sportback. Under the skin is an EV-specific architecture, plus a preview of the brand’s future all-electric tech. There are three electric motors total, with one up front, and two in the rear, essentially offering AWD. Put it all together and you’ll see 320 kW of power, or about 430 horsepower. Engage “boost mode,” and that output figure rises to 370 kW, or roughly 500 horsepower.
There are three electric motors total, with one up front, and two in the rear, essentially offering AWD. Put it all together and you’ll see 320 kW of power, or about 430 horsepower. Engage “boost mode,” and that output figure rises to 370 kW, or roughly 500 horsepower.
That’s a decent chunk of change for an EV, even one with a heavy SUV body style. Properly motivated, Audi says this thing can hit 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, while also traversing 310 miles with each full charge.
Providing the juice is a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack rated at 95-kWh. This unit is mounted below the cabin and between the axles for optimum weight distribution, promising fun in the corners and in a straight line. It’s also got the hook ups for both DC and AC charging options, upping convenience.
Providing the juice is a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack rated at 95-kWh.
“We have made a conscious decision to give the Audi e-tron Sportback its first showing here in Shaghai, because China is the world’s leading market for electric automobiles,” says Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, Member of the Board of Management for Marketing and Sales for Audi AG. “That applies as much to the infrastructure and financial support as it does to sales.”
Audi expects to offer as many as five e-tron models in the Chinese market over the course of the next five years.
Back to the car. The interior is equally impressive as the exterior, upholstered in light-colored high-end materials, and with tons of angular, geometric design elements and horizontal lines. Audi says it focused on simplifying the control scheme, eschewing hard buttons for more screens instead. As such, there’s a plethora of displays, including on the central console and in the doors, all of which help passengers to control the various infotainment systems.
Up front, we find a non-standard Singleframe grille with slimmer dimensions – about right for an EV.
This new concept looks different as well. Up front, we find a non-standard Singleframe grille, with a similar shape, but slimmer dimensions. And that makes sense, given an EV needs less air than something powered by an ICE.
In the corners are 23-inch wheels with a 6-spoke design, while cameras replace the side-view mirrors, improving aerodynamics and adding to the car’s futuristic style.
Finally, this thing’s dimensions are about as big as the Audi A7. Check out the table below for specifics.
Personally, I find the e-tron Sportback to be an interesting concept with a lot of potential. It looks pretty nice, but it’s the 500-horsepower EV drivetrain that gets me most excited.
What do you think? Would you consider buying something like this in production form? Let us know in the comments section.
Design study and technology demonstrator, electric car and power pack in the guise of a coupé: Audi presents a versatile concept car at the Auto Shanghai this spring. The four-door Gran Turismo Audi e-tron Sportback concept comes with a 320 kW electric drive. The formal idiom combines classic Audi elements with an array of trendsetting details: an electrifying architecture, tailored consistently to the technology and the package of the electric drive.
The Audi e-tron Sportback represents an important milepost for Audi along the road to electric mobility. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, confirmed: “Our Audi e-tron will be starting out in 2018 – the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use. With a range of over 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) and the special electric driving experience, we will make this sporty SUV the must-have product of the next decade. Following close on its heels, in 2019, comes the production version of the Audi e-tron Sportback – an emotional coupé version that is thrillingly identifiable as an electric car at the very first glance.”
In its consciously light-colored interior the Audi e-tron Sportback concept offers a blend of functional clarity and reductive controls as a formal principle. Expansive touch-sensitive screens below the central display, on the center console and in the door trims supply information and interact with the on-board systems. Horizontal surfaces on the dashboard and the seemingly floating center console convey a sense of open perspectives for the occupants of the four individual seats.
The concept car’s lighting technology is an innovation that is visible by both day and night. Digitally controlled Matrix LED units at the front and rear produce an excellent light yield. Minuscule Digital Matrix projectors literally make their mark on the road ahead, turning light into a versatile, dynamic channel of communication with the surroundings. The brand with the four rings was the first in the world to adopt full LED headlights, and gave Matrix LED technology, laser lighting and OLED technology a significant push towards their breakthrough. The technology study for Shanghai now premieres a whole host of complex functions that steer vision and interaction with the surroundings in a new direction.
Narrow light strips on both sides below the front lid – the daytime running lights – become the eyes on the face of the study. Thanks to a combination of LEDs and a micromirror-studded surface plus complex control technology, a large number of animated movements and signatures are possible. When the e-tron Sportback starts and also when the doors are opened, the system uses switchable segments to generate dynamic visual welcome signals.
Below the daytime running lights, to the left and right of the Singleframe, there are two large-area light fields each comprising an arrangement of around 250 LEDs. They offer a vast array of possibilities for creating engaging graphics or specific communicative signs, even while on the move.
For its drive, the e-tron Sportback uses a configuration that will also be adopted in future production Audi models with all-electric drive: One electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear power all four wheels, transforming the high-performance coupé into a quattro in typical Audi style. 320 kW of power – which can even reach 370 kW in the boost mode – provide a fitting level of propulsion, with the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) a done deal in just 4.5 seconds. With the battery’s energy content of 95 kilowatt-hours, its range is in excess of 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) (NEDC).
As previously on the e-tron quattro concept, the technology study’s liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is positioned between the axles below the passenger compartment. This installation position provides for a low center of gravity and a balanced axle load distribution of 52:48 (front/rear). And that gives the sporty SUV outstanding driving dynamics and driving safety compared with other vehicles in the segment. The battery can be charged by the Combined Charging System with dual connections for alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC).
Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, Member of the Board of Management for Marketing and Sales at AUDI AG, understands the special significance of electric mobility for the market in China: “We have made a conscious decision to give the Audi e-tron Sportback its first showing here in Shanghai, because China is the world’s leading market for electric automobiles. That applies as much to the infrastructure and financial support as it does to sales. There are already about 150,000 charging stations in the country, with another 100,000 due to come on stream by the end of 2017. We are well equipped for this rapid growth. In the next five years we will be offering five e-tron models in China, including purely battery-powered vehicles with ranges well in excess of 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) such as the Audi e-tron Sportback.”
The study vehicle’s front end displays the familiar octagonal Singleframe with an overtly wide, horizontal cut – the greatly reduced amount of air required by the electric motor means the large opening can be omitted here. The sculptural surface painted in the body color has a structured pattern emblazoned with the four-rings logo – just like the grille of the classic Singleframe.
The edges of the central surface are drawn back, allowing air to flow through at the top. The air inlet is bracketed again by an octagonal, black-painted frame that structures almost the entire width of the front end.
Between the front lid extending low down, the front apron and the wheel arches, it combines with the light units to give this Audi an unmistakable face.
The Audi designers also adopt a new tack for the air flow through the front lid. Above its front section, which dips deeply at the front, a bridge running parallel with the nose connects the two wheel arches and also doubles up as an air deflector. This gives the front end a much more dynamic character than the hefty forward structure of a car with a combustion engine installed at the front.
At the sides of the concept car, the wheel arches extending well out from the cabin with pointedly horizontal top edges define the conspicuous quattro architecture. As well as providing visual evidence of a wide track and dynamic potential, they also bind the e-tron Sportback into the brand’s DNA. Large 23-inch wheels in a technical 6-spoke design highlight the confident presence of the imposingly dimensioned coupé. An exterior length of 4.90 meters (16.1 ft), a width of 1.98 meters (6.5 ft) and a height of 1.53 meters (5.0 ft) with a wheelbase of 2.93 meters (9.6 ft) position the e-tron Sportback in the C segment, close to the Audi A7.
Small cameras replace the exterior mirrors. This technology offers other advantages besides improved air flow and reduced wind noise. The blind spot of the physical exterior mirror is virtually eliminated, as is the obstruction to the diagonal forward view. The camera images are shown on separate displays in the doors. Audi is showing this technology as a concrete foretaste of the production version.
At the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show Audi unveiled the Audi e-tron quattro concept – the forerunner of the brand’s first all-electric-drive production automobile. As a radically reconfigured SUV it offers a range of up to 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) with the spaciousness and comfort of a typical full-size automobile from Audi. It has the road performance of a high-performance sports car – the Audi e-tron quattro sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in only 4.6 seconds. The production version of this pioneering electric SUV will appear on the market in 2018. The Audi e-tron Sportback concept car will be followed by its production version in 2019.