The future is electric – at least for Audi.
The German brand has made no secret that it sees its future generations of vehicles making the shift from petrol and diesel to electric-power. And that transition will begin this month, with the all-new e-tron and e-tron Sportback SUVs going on sale.
Audi will take a two-pronged approach as it begins battling with Tesla (Model X), Mercedes-Benz (EQC) and Jaguar (I-Pace) in the electric crossover market. The e-tron is a more conventionally-styled SUV, while the e-tron Sportback has a sloping roofline for a more dynamic look. Both models are due to reach local roads in September.
Both run the same powertrain underneath, albeit tuned for slightly different performance. The range begins with the 55 quattro models for both variants, making 230kW of power and 540Nm of torque. The e-tron has a claimed range of 336km while the Sportback manages 347km.
The 55 quattro offers more performance with up to 300kW and 664Nm available for more punch, whilst also offering an extended range of 436km.
Audi Australia is offering a relatively extensive range, with 50 and 55 versions of both the e-tron and e-tron Sportback plus a limited-run First Edition of both.
The First Edition adds some clever features, including virtual exterior mirrors, which use small, slimline cameras mounted externally for lower drag to capture an image that is then displayed onto small screens at the bottom of the A-pillars inside the cabin.
The First Edition also gets unique 21-inch alloy wheels (the 50 rides on 20-inch rims, the 55 on 21s), Matrix LED headlights and a 705W Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
Audi will include a six-year subscription to the Chargefox network for public recharging with every vehicle, as well as free servicing and roadside assistance for the same period.
Audi e-tron pricing
e-tron 50 quattro – $137,700
e-tron 55 quattro – $146,700
e-tron Sportback 50 quattro – $148,700
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro – $157,700
e-tron 55 quattro First Edition – $159,600
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro First Edition – $169,950
*All prices exclude on-road costs
The e-tron armada
The e-tron and Sportback are only the beginning for Audi, with the brand targeting 12 all-electric models by 2025.
The company has already revealed its next models, showing off the thinly-disguised Q4 e-tron concept – a compact SUV to sit beneath the e-tron and e-tron Sportback – at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Expect it to be revealed in production form by early 2021, which means it may not make Australia until 2022.
Also on the way is a four-door sedan, rumoured to be around the same size as the existing A5 Sportback, which will be based on the company’s next-generation ‘PPE’ EV platform. Audi is expected to underpin most future EVs on this new architecture, so it will be a crucial new model for the brand.
But it won’t just do sensible passenger cars and SUVs, Audi will also continue its sporting heritage with EV models. The first is already confirmed, the e-tron GT, which is the four-ring version of the Porsche Taycan ‘J1’ platform, providing a sports sedan for the future.
However, that may only be the beginning of Audi’s EV performance future, with the brand’s executives repeatedly hinting that the replacements for both the TT and R8 could go electric too. The company has even given us a glimpse of what it could look like, with the PB18 Concept previewing a potential R8-replacing battery-powered supercar.