Audi has pulled the wraps off this striking e-tron Sportback thought at the Shanghai motor show. The concept showings Audi’s second series-production electric model due in 2019. Audi said its sleek, new EV is aimed squarely at Jaguar’s upcoming electric SUV, the I-Pace. The e-tron Sportback shares its powertrain with the 2015 e-tron quattro concept, which previewed Audi’s first production-EV due in 2018. Audi’s latest concept mixes the lines of a lift back with the stance of a four-seat SUV. It creates what the brand describes as “a new class of car” that will attract buyers who may have previously considered an A7 but want a more commanding view of the road. The e-tron Sportback sits on 23-inch alloy wheels.
The car’s electric drivetrain denies the need for a conservative front grille through which air can flow, but Audi has applied its familiar design language to the front end of the car. However, there is a new ‘bridge’, formed by one vent at the top of the grille and another at the front of the bonnet, through which air can be channeled. The car uses what Audi describes as “next-generation digital lighting technology” to enable the use of matrix LED full-beam headlights. It also introduces new daytime running lights that project their light onto reflective sections of bodywork, instead of directly outwards, and also double as scrolling indicators. They are escorted by matrix laser lights situated under the front and back bumpers that project turn signals onto the road.
The e-tron Sportback has two motors that power the rear wheels and one that powers the fronts, with the drivetrain producing maximum combined outputs of 503hp and 800Nm. This enables a 0-100kph in mere 4.5sec and a limited top speed of 210kph. In most driving conditions, just the front motor is used, with the two rear units adding torque in high-load or low-grip conditions. The drivetrain can be changed to lasting all-wheel drive should the driver need it, and the back axle shuffles power between the wheels via torque vectoring.
All three motors can recover energy during braking and coasting, and the intensity of energy recovery is adjustable through four levels.