The groundwork for the smoothest possible transition to electric driving for Audi customers has been laid very successfully by the e-tron with its unmistakable SUV silhouette and easily fathomable functionality
- now the stage is set for bolder and even more distinctive variations on the theme, beginning with the new e-tron Sportback, which is now arriving with its first UK owners.
With its coupé-inspired roofline and performance-oriented specification the new five-door Sportback cuts an even more purposeful figure than its counterpart, notable as Europe’s best-selling premium electric SUV, but its focus on refinement, efficiency and the application of advanced technology with optimal simplicity is no less acute. The even more expressive e-tron will fittingly make its UK debut as a 55 quattro with a 95kWh battery, peak electrical output of 300kW and range capability of up to 241 miles, but a new lead-in 50 quattro version with capacity and output slightly reduced to 71kWh and 230kW is also announced this week and will become available to order in the autumn.
“The original e-tron was cleverly conceived because it delivered transformative technology to Audi customers in a familiar, friendly form that they could easily get on board with” said Director of Audi UK Andrew Doyle.
“Now the SUV has proved that electrified Audi models with all their environmental and efficiency benefits can be comfortably accommodated in everyday life in return for very little compromise versus their ICE counterparts, the time is right for the Sportback to offer a slightly bolder take on the concept.”
As befits an e-tron that looks more inclined towards uptempo travel the new Sportback combines its coupé-derived references with a more performance-oriented specification structure that begins at S line level. As elsewhere in the Audi range, S line specification lends a more dynamic air through exclusive front and rear styling treatments, privacy glass and larger alloy wheels – in this case with a 21-inch diameter. Matrix LED headlamps with front and rear dynamic indicators are standard, as is sport suspension based on the adaptive air set-up that is standard for all e-tron models. Inside, electrically adjustable and S-embossed front sport seats are upholstered in supple Valcona leather, and leather-effect Twin leather extends their indulgently soft feel to the upper section of the dashboard, the door armrests and the lower portion of the centre console.
With a wheelbase of 2,928 millimetres, the Audi e-tron Sportback has ample space for five occupants. The tapering roof line reduces rear headroom by just 20 millimetres versus the e-tron SUV, and when passengers are occupying the rear seats a total of 615 litres of luggage space is available if the 60-litre stowage compartment under the bonnet is also factored into the equation. When the rear seats are vacant and the backrests are folded, luggage capacity increases to 1,665 litres.
This technology centrepiece for Audi is naturally also bristling with infotainment features, including the Audi Virtual Cockpit, the touch-screen MMI Touch system with its dual monitors, wireless smartphone integration via the Audi Smartphone Interface and Audi Phone Box wireless handset charging. Needless to say the e-tron Sportback is also online thanks to the Audi Connect module, bringing numerous internet-derived features on board and upgrading navigation mapping with the help of Google Earth.
The powerful third generation MIB 3 modular infotainment platform presides over all the digital functions. Its enhanced processing capability enables the MMI Navigation system to access speech recognition software in the cloud during its formulation of responses to spoken commands for even more accurate comprehension and feedback, and also places everything from phone book contacts and radio stations to climate control settings under vocal control.
On the rung above the S line model in the e-tron Sportback specification structure sits the Launch Edition, identifiable by way of its black styling applications for the Singleframe, window trim strips and front and rear bumpers, by its exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels from Audi Sport and by its unusually slim virtual door mirrors housing cameras that project images of the e-tron’s surroundings onto OLED displays in the cabin. A full-length panoramic sunroof sheds considerably more light on the interior, which also benefits from upgrades such as powered steering wheel adjustment and the more sophisticated virtual cockpit plus with additional ‘e-tron’ and ‘sport’ screens providing even more comprehensive driver information.
ignificant expansion of the e-tron driver assistance package is also part and parcel of the Launch Edition specification. Above and beyond the S line model with its cruise control, lane departure warning and rear camera-enhanced parking system, the Launch Edition is supported by a 360-degree camera in the delivery of everything from adaptive cruise assist and the predictive efficiency assistant advocating the most charge-conscious driving style to monitoring of turning at junctions, blindspots, reversing out of parking spaces and even exit from the car when parked.
The art of luxury travel is mastered even more adeptly by the e-tron Sportback Vorsprung, which heads the range and alludes to that fact visually through 22-inch matt titanium alloy wheels framing orange brake calipers.
Its doors click shut virtually silently thanks to powered door closure, its steering wheel heats chilled hands on demand and its 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system carries a tune with incredible richness and clarity as occupants sink into upgraded diamond-stitched super sport seats.
The first examples of the e-tron Sportback to reach the UK are 55 quattro models, meaning that they combine a 95kWh battery fitted as a wide flat block beneath the passenger cell with two asynchronous electric motors – one per axle – giving a combined output of 265 kW and 561 Nm (413.8 lb-ft) of torque. In the autumn, a 50 quattro model will slot into the range below this, its two motors fed by a smaller 71kWh battery and capable of a slightly reduced 230kW output.
The new Audi e-tron Sportback – UK OTR pricing
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro S line £79,900 OTR
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro Launch Edition £85,900 OTR
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro Vorsprung £95,100 OTR