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Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept Front 3/4 Audi unveils slick Q4 Sportback e-tron as part of EV offensive

Audi unveiled the Q4 e-tron concept at the 2019 Geneva motor show as a wagon-bodied, mid-size EV SUV concept and, naturally, that car has now been joined by the slicker Sportback interpretation seen here.

This new Sportback model is set to become Ingolstadt’s seventh series production EV when it launches in late 2021 and forms part of the 20-strong EV lineup rolled-out by 2025.

When it does arrive in Australia, you might be surprised to find that the Q4 e-trons won’t share their underpinning with the recently launched e-tron SUV and Sportback.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept pair
The pair of Q4 e-trons.

Instead, Audi has built the more compact pair of crossovers on the Volkswagen Group MEB platform. It’s a modular platform that will sit under the coming Volkswagen ID.3, and we presume many more on the horizon.

The platform itself is modular, and the brand says it will be used “from the compact class to the superior mid-size class”, which gives an indication to the divers future of electrification within the Volkswagen group.

Powering the Q4 Sportback e-tron is the same pair of motors in its wagon-bodied brother. The rear electric motor takes most of the strain with outputs of 150kW/350Nm, while the front motor will kick in when needed with an extra 75kW and 150Nm for a combined 225kW and claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 6.3 seconds.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept side
The Sportback is 10mm longer and lower than its wagon-bodied sibling.

Most of the time Audi says Q4 Sportback e-tron will rely on its rear motor to conserve energy, though depending on the drive-mode and conditions the Q4 can shuffle power just as you would expect an Audi to.

Beneath the sleek exterior, Audi says there will be a skateboard-style battery pack with a total capacity of 82kWh. Fast charging up to 125kW means 80% charge can be reached in just 30 minutes, and range for the Quattro models is claimed at around 450km.

Audi says rear-drive only models – presumably pitched as a more affordable option in the future – will be able to return 500km from a full charge.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept pair FRONT
We like the incorporation of the corporate grille.

Those numbers are still somewhat adrift of a long-range Tesla Model 3 variant, though the 400-500km range figure is about on par with what other manufacturers like Hyundai are achieving consistently.

As for the looks which – let’s face it – a concept car is really all about, and Audi has done a great job. Compared to the wagon-bodied Q4 e-tron, the Sportback is 10mm longer and lower overall, adding to the car’s already squat appearance.

The way the designers have aggressively sloped the tailgate and bisected the rear glasshouse is pleasing in images and reminiscent of the achingly cool but before-its-time Audi A2. As for the nose, we think it’s a slick integration of the brand’s halo grille.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept Rear
Anybody else see the ill-fated Audi A2?

That car was designed for maximum efficiency, and it seems that Audi allowed the wind-tunnel to dictate design for the Sportback, which drops its CD to 0.026, or 0.01 lower than the wagon-bodied offering.

The virtual cockpit is here, configurable steering-wheel touchpads, and the 12.3-inch touchscreen with separate climate controls.

Inside the Q4 Sportback e-tron is just concept car enough in our eyes and we hope it reaches production in this guise. The brand’s Virtual Cockpit is present, as is a 12.3-inch touchscreen. The infotainment will be able to be controlled with configurable touchpads on the steering wheel, too – a nice touch.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept interior
The interior looks just game-changing enough.

As for remaining specification, we know it will be suspended by conventional steel springs (with adaptive dampers) and boast wireless charging. However, the price is still, understandably, up in the air.

With the e-tron and e-tron Sportback prices starting at $137,700, we expect the smaller Q4 e-trons to come in at a more affordable price, though exact details will be confirmed closer to the car’s arrival.

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Audi etron 2020 plugged in charging Audi Australia blows starting whistle on electric vehicle offensive

The arrival of Audi’s e-tron SUV lineup – the German marque’s first full-electric vehicles – blows the starting whistle on Audi Australia’s managing director Paul Sansom’s claim that 45% of the Audi global sales will be electric by 2025.

With the e-tron and e-tron Sportback, which arrive in Australia in September, Mr Sansom suggested that this style of vehicle will “reset the benchmark for premium mobility”. To us, that sounds like the SUV form factor will remain prevalent, which makes pragmatic sense for EVs: the high ride height creates space for a ‘skateboard’ packaging of batteries while realising greater passenger comfort.

Audi’s future target doesn’t just consist of pure EVs like the teased Q4 e-tron SUV and the forthcoming, lower-slung e-tron GT four-door: instead, this figure will be undoubtedly complemented by PHEV variants of current production vehicles in the vein of the BMW X5 xDrive 45e. Previously, Audi sold mild plug-in hybrid versions of the Q7 SUV and A3 hatchback in Australia, but the present lineup here is combustion-only.

Overseas, Audi sells a broad range of plug-in hybrids to complement its growing range of full-electric vehicles. Badged TFSI e, hybrid versions are offered on the Q5, A7 and A8, among other cars. The Q5 55 TFSI e teams a two-litre turbo petrol engine with a 14.1kWh battery, providing around 40 kilometres of pure-electric range for commuting.

Audi etron 2020 charger cable
The pair of e-tron SUVs will be the first full-electric Audis sold in Australia.

Audi communications manager Shaun Cleary indicated plug-in hybrids were being assessed for the Australian market. “We’re still assessing exactly how those models might form part of our line-up”, Mr Cleary said.

The arrival of the e-tron full-electric SUVs will provide substantially better zero tailpipe emission usability than that. The entry-level, $137k e-tron 50 promises a range of around 300km, with the pricier $146k e-tron 55 boosting the distance to about 400km.

The eventual supplementary target for Audi is thirty models with some form of electric propulsion above and beyond the current 48-volt mild-hybrid tech currently found in many recent Audi vehicles.

With platform sharing we know Audi can lean on the learnings of Volkswagen and Porsche, using underpinnings of vehicles like the coming VW ID.3 at the affordable end, and powerhouse Porsche Taycan at the pointier to bolster the electric range.

The Volkswagen Group is investing heavily in the transition to EV production. Pictured: the Volkswagen ID.3.

Audi isn’t facing the tough climb to a transition to EV motoring alone. Like mainstream player Hyundai, Audi has opted to partner with the Chargefox fast-charging network to offer Australian customers an easy public charging solution. Like Tesla, Audi’s navigation system is smart enough to calculate the ideal route for electric vehicles, including estimated charge-times.

Not every EV is created equal, so what exactly is Audi doing differently, and what have they learnt from their rather public prototyping under the R8 e-tron and the three-time Le Mans winning R18 TDI.

Already the e-tron is capable of fast-charging equalling the 150kW capacity of Tesla’s V2 Supercharger V2. Matthew Dale, product planning manager for the e-tron project, suggested we’ll be seeing cars with four rings capable of 350kW fast-charging very soon. Charging at 150kW replenishes the e-tron 55’s battery to 80% – or 320km of range – in about half an hour. Should future Audis be capable of 350kW charging, this would allow charging to 80% in about ten minutes.

Another intelligent solution from the Germans includes battery technology that allows 100% charge to be achieved in a more timely manner – something that has hindered many other manufacturers.

Audi etron 2020 Australia blue front
Unlike some EVs, the e-tron deliberately looks like a conventional SUV.

Talking figures, the e-tron 55 will take 30 minutes to reach 80% charge for its 95kWh battery when using a 150kW fast-charger, 100% charge only requires an extra 15 minutes. Most EVs take an awful lot longer to attain ‘full’ battery capacity, for example, a Tesla Model S with an 85kWh battery takes around 40 minutes to reach 80%, and 75 minutes for 100% charge.

In all e-trons the lithium-ion batteries are a network of modules connected, instead of a single battery pack. So, in five years when your e-tron starts to discharge faster than expected, you will be able to take their vehicle to the local Audi dealer, plug in a scan tool and – in the case of the 55 Quattro – find out which of the 36 modules is in poor health.

These modules can then be replaced individually at a fraction of the cost of a completely new battery, easing ownership pains and the unknown factor greatly.

Like the Mercedes-Benz EQC that is already in market – also priced at $137,000 – the Audi e-tron range is priced aspirationally, well beyond the normal budget for a family vehicle in Australia. Audi suggests that most buyers for this initial e-tron product will come from households with a combined income of at least $250,000.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 3
The e-tron will be available in Sportback (pictured) or conventional styles.

During the presentation, it became evident that the e-tron isn’t aimed at the ultra-green crowd. If it were you might hope to find sustainable upholstery, instead, it’s all environmentally expensive cow-hide and plastic.

When pressed, Mr Dale confirmed that “upon customer request, other materials like fake leather or cloth” could make their way onto a special-order e-tron.

Mazda’s incoming MX-30 marks an exception to this rule by employing sustainably sourced interior materials. This first round of EVs is aimed at those who only want to offset personal emissions as much as they want a serene and fast isolation chamber.

There is naturally the question of Australia’s lack of government incentivisation for electric vehicles and the potential to hurt Audi’s increasingly electrified future down under.

Audi etron 2020 chargefox
Audi have partnered with the Chargefox rapid charger network in Australia.

Other brands have shown distaste for the lack of government initiative. Still, Mr Sansom didn’t seem to be overly fussed “from Audi’s point of view we’re interested in bringing such a vehicle to market with the best customer offer we can”. However, he did admit that with the right incentives “EV adoption has been shown to go up elsewhere”.

While electrification itself is relatively new, the e-tron is conservative in styling and concept, to us it feels like the logical conclusion of comfortable, serene transport. We also appreciate the idea that “e-tron customers will be early adopters and have an interest in being at the vanguard of future mobility… but they still want the best of Audi”.

And as much as ICE diehards protest, the death of Australia’s automotive industry means we’re now at the mercy of whatever Europe decides is best.

Tesla Model 3 driving Australia
There’s no disputing that Audi is chasing down Tesla, who lead in EVs in Australia.

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk – advancing a brand’s credentials without alienating those who have become loyalists to a particular style. But the cool factor is sure to play a part.

We’ve undeniably seen it happen with Tesla, the Model S and then the Model 3 was popularised by the rich and famous to much success. Many Australians have lapped them despite local political malaise towards EVs.

As for these unprecedented world conditions – for context the press conference at which Audi detailed their EV strategy took place over Vimeo – Audi Australia showed little concern about the impact of COVID-19. If a buyer wants an e-tron, they’ll make it work. “There was a general downward trend for business, though we’re already seeing signs of recovery,” explained Mr Cleary.  

Audi etron 2020 Australia blue rear
The e-tron blows the starting whisle on Audi’s EV offensive.

Mr Cleary was confident that the e-tron buyer is relatively set on their choice already “values of those who are interested in being early adopters for this type of product would not necessarily change due to COVID”.

We’ll hold off commenting until we drive the new crop of e-trons. Still, it sounds like Audi Australia might be onto something having already pre-sold 100 e-trons, with Mr Dale confident the initial supply “will be soon exhausted after we go online with sales “on June 19.

The future is looking bright for electrification, the target of 45% sales being electrified by 2025 seems reasonable. It’s a shame Audi didn’t reveal plans regarding PHEVs for Australia given they offer a comfortable stone on the way to the other side of the EV stream, but the future looks bright regardless. 

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Audi etron 2020 Australia blue front 2021 Audi e-tron electric SUV on sale in September from $137k

Audi’s long-awaited and cutting-edge e-tron and e-tron Sportback full-electric SUVs are set to arrive in Australia by September, arriving to compete head-on with the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Tantalising figures are aplenty with outputs of 300kW and 660Nm, 400km of real-world range, 150kW fast-charging capability and the icing on the cake – six years of free charging.

While bringing stronger competition to fellow German brand Mercedes-Benz, Audi’s suite of e-tron crossovers also provide a greener alternative for buyers interested in the brand’s dimensionally similar Q7 and high-spec Q5 SUVs.

Audi etron 2020 Australia charge port
The e-tron SUVs are fully electric.

But Paul Sansom, Managing Director of Audi Australia, assured us that the e-Tron is more than just an alternative, it’s the “start of a new era of mobility from Audi”.

There will be two powertrains available, starting with the $137,700 (driveaway pricing TBA) e-tron 50 Quattro that revolves around a 71kWh battery pack and dual electric motors. Combined outputs are 230kW and 540Nm, and Audi suggests a real-world range of around 300km. The e-tron 50 competes directly with the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400, which costs $137,900 (around $161,000 driveaway).

Naturally, there is an energy-recovery system controlled by steering wheel-mounted paddles which will provide around 30% of the e-tron’s real-world range and 90% of braking force.

Audi etron 2020 plugged in charging
Audi Australia have partnered with the Chargefox rapid charger network.

Each e-tron battery is made up of 27 separate lithium-ion ‘modules’ which Audi says can be replaced individually if they fail. No official pricing has been released, but we imagine it will be more cost-effective than battery replacement – both for the wallet and the environment.

The more potent e-tron 55 Quattro starts at $146,700 (driveaway pricing TBA) and uses 36 of the same modules for a 95kWh battery capacity and a claimed range of around 400km.

Of course, more power is available with outputs raised to 300kW and 660Nm, good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds. Fast-charging will be possible at 150kW for the e-tron 55, providing 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes. The more affordable e-tron 50 grade is capable of charging at 120kW.

Audi etron 2020 Australia blue rear
The e-tron SUV sits between the Q5 and Q7 in size.

Audi has worked on optimising full charge potential with the 55 Quattro able to reach 100% charge in as little as 45 minutes, which beats out competitors where the same charge level would take 90 minutes to achieve.

Regardless of fast-charging, Audi’s Matthew Dale re-iterated that all e-trons will be “suitable for everyday use”. This claim is backed-up by the Audi smartphone app, which is intelligent enough to calculate a route from Melbourne to Brisbane accounting for fast-charger locations, and time taken to charge the SUV.

Audi has partnered with the Chargefox network to offer fast-charging services to customers in Australia. Mr Dale said there are already “500 chargers in Australia, with more cropping up every day”.

Audi etron 2020 digital mirrors
Cameras replace traditional wing mirrors in the e-tron.

The Chargefox partnership is designed to create peace of mind around charging infrastructure for new EV buyers. To that end, Audi is also bundling a particularly generous free charging package with the e-tron at launch.

Customers will be able to tap into six years of free, unlimited charging on the Chargefox network – a period matched in duration by Audi’s roadside assist programme, which includes flat battery recovery. The e-tron’s batteries are warranted for eight years and 160,000km.

Cues to the e-tron’s electric power are few and far between, though the aerodynamically-optimised 20-inch wheels will alert trainspotters. So too, will the corporate grille which is active in this application; the slats will close when extra cooling isn’t needed to lower drag. At low-speeds, they reopen to aid battery cooling.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 1
The e-tron Sportback is a slicker-looking variant.

If you’re after something slicker looking then the Sportback is the option, Audi Australia says a fair share of prospective e-tron buyers will be young professionals without families, who won’t be concerned at the shrunken backseat headroom.

The Sportback improves this SUV’s drag coefficient – the wagon-bodied e-tron boasts an already impressive figure of 0.28, the Sportback improves this to 0.25.

An e-tron isn’t cheap, but standard equipment is generous. Both 50 and 55 Quattros get adaptive air suspension, a digital drivers display, dual haptic touch screens – 10.1 inch for infotainment and a supplementary 8-inch below – wireless Apple CarPlay, heated front seats and luxurious leather-appointed interior.

Audi etron 2020 interior
70 high-spec First Editions will come to Australia.

There will be an especially high-spec First Edition grade offered at launch for early birds. The e-tron First Edition will start at $159,600 (driveaway pricing TBA) for the 50 Quattro, climbing to $169,950 (driveaway pricing TBA) for the 55 and be limited to 70 units. 

For the additional asking price the First Edition gets larger 21-inch wheels, orange brake callipers, black exterior highlights, a head-up display, four-zone air-conditioning, a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo and, the icing on the cake, a set of fixed-back sports seats finished in premium Valcona leather.

A brace of option packs will be available; the $9,700 ($6,500 for the Sportback) Premium Plus package adds Matrix LED lights, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, ambient lighting and the must-have virtual mirrors. 

Or for $2,950 the premium interior package nets those aforementioned fixed-back seats and opulent Valcona leather upholstery.

Available to order online from June 19, Mr Dale suggests plenty of interest for the EVs with around 100 e-trons on pre-order and anticipates the first customer cars will arrive in September 2020.

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2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 5 Audi’s sleek e-tron Sportback is coming to Aus in late 2020

Audi has ditched the concept-car wrapping from the second model in its e-tron family, the swish looking e-tron Sportback. Boasting 300kW and 446km of WLTP certified range, the brand is certainly cementing the design language for their electric future.

Electric mobility has been a hot topic lately, with legacy brands like Audi now catching up with innovators like Tesla’s Model X and Model S, while trying to beat german competitors such as coming BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQC to market.

Although no pricing has been confirmed, Audi expects the e-tron Sportback to arrive in the second half of 2020. European pricing starts €83,000 for the 55 Quattro, which converts to $135,000 (at current rate), matching Benz’s EQC, also taking sales away from their own combustion-engined Q7, BMW X5 range and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 3

At launch two powertrains will be available, the headline Sportback 55 Quattro produces 265kW and 560Nm with two dual electric motors, by depressing the ‘S’ button and burying the throttle, the 55 Quattro will give eight seconds of power boost, raising power to 300kW and sending the SUV to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds.

Holding power is a 96kWh battery which sits beneath occupants, which adding to the chassis rigidity of the Sportback. The cell will fast-charge at 150kW, achieving 80% charge in just 30 minutes.

The other powertrain is the Sportback 50 Quattro, with outputs of 230kW and 540Nm from a smaller 71kWh battery. The fast-charge is limited to a lower 120kW, but the 120kg lighter battery will charge to the same 80% in an identical 30 minutes.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 2

Regen braking will be adjustable via steering wheel paddles, and at maximum will regen an impressive 70% of the cars outputs, so 300Nm and 220kW, when slowing from 100km/h.

For efficiency, the e-tron Sportback pootles around in rear-wheel drive most of the time, when slip is detected or low-grip modes are activated the front axle comes into play for extra security.

For the e-tron Sportback Audi has achieved a drag coefficient of 0.25 CD, fairly impressive, with Audi claiming this improves range over the conventional e-tron by 10km in WLTP testing thanks to the smoother detachment of air from the sloping rear window and flat boot deck

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 4

The mirrors, or rather lack thereof, contribute to the low drag of the car too, the virtual system will display a camera feed inside the car and automatically adjust to the situation for highway, city, and parking situations.

Aerodynamically optimised wheels help lower the CD too, while sculpted brake cooling ducts should help performance potential.

The e-tron Sportback also debuts digital all-new matrix LED tech which will accurately light the road using micro mirrors that can adjust up to 5,000 times per second to provide optimal lighting in any situation.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 6

Corporate design is all over the e-tron Sportback which looks ever-so Audi, not a bad thing if you ask us. The profile sees distinct cues from other Sportback models, and the brand’s prominent hexagonal front grille which is closed off here as cooling is not necessary.

The tough SUV look is complemented by the anthracite black wheel arch extensions as standard, though these can be specified in body colour or gloss black instead.

On that topic Audi claim to have maintained almost identical rear-seat room as the regular e-tron, while offering 60 litres of storage up front, bringing the total to a very impressive 615 litres.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback 1

Pictures of the interior are yet to be released, though it is one of Audi’s strong suits at the moment, and with a centrally mounted 12.3-inch touchscreen and a digital dashboard, it should be a lovely place to spend time.

Audi has managed a 50:50 weight distribution in the e-tron Sportback, which in conjunction with a five-link suspension system and air suspension that can vary ride height by 76mm depending on drive modes, so it should make for a confident handling car in any situation.

As standard 19-inch wheels with low rolling-resistance tyres are specified, though punters will be able to opt for larger 20-inch, and up to 22-inches if they wish.

Pricing and exact specification are yet to be locked in, but the e-tron Sportback will offer a stylish and presumably very nice place to spend time when it arrives in Australia in the second half of 2020.

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