New Audi Q6 e-tron Sportback will be first car on advanced EV platform

The Audi Q6 e-tron has been spotted in coupe-SUV Sportback form ahead of its reveal later this year

Audi is well underway with the development of its latest electric car – the new Audi Q6 e-tron. This is the second time we’ve spotted it in Sportback form, suggesting that both the regular model and this coupe-SUV variant will be released at the same time later this year.

The Q6 e-tron will sit between the Q4 e-tron and the full-size e-tron SUV, which will be renamed Q8 e-tron as part of its mid-life refresh. This means the Q6 model will be pitched as a rival to the Tesla Model Y, BMW iX3 and Nissan Ariya. 

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The latest batch of spy shots show a prototype still clad in heavy camouflage, but it’s clear that the Sportback model will retain the overall styling direction of the regular car, with a closed-off, textured front grille flanked by a pair of dual LED headlights and deep bumper cutouts. 

Previous spy shots show a pre-production car with two-tone body work – hinting at potential personalisation options. A full-width light bar will mark out the Sportback’s rear end, and the more aerodynamic silhouette could liberate a few extra miles of range over the standard SUV. Boot space will take a hit, however.

We’ve also seen the Q6 e-tron’s undisguised front end during testing before, providing our best look yet at Audi’s new electric car styling language. Contrast colour panels are expected to feature throughout, while sharp shoulderline creases will give the Q6 e-tron some added muscle.

We expect the Q6 will be comparable in external dimensions to the combustion-engined Q5, but with a longer wheelbase and increased passenger space enabled by the new platform. 

Inside, the car is likely to adopt the new 11.6-inch central touchscreen used in the Q4 e-tron. However, the design could be different due to the platform, and also to separate both models in terms of price and positioning.

The PPE architecture found underneath the Q6 e-tron will be shared with the next-generation Porsche Macan, which is due to be launched in 2023 as a full EV sitting alongside the existing, petrol-powered Macan. Despite both the Q6 and new Macan sharing similar hardware and software, they will be visually separate both inside and out. 

The PPE platform is an evolution of the J1 platform found under the e-tron GT four-door, as well as the Porsche Taycan. That means it’ll have an 800-volt electrical architecture, enabling super-fast DC charging at a rate of up to 350kW.

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Audi also says the platform will allow the EV’s battery pack to charge from five to 80 per cent capacity in around 25 minutes. A shorter charge using the fastest possible DC rapid charger can also add 186 miles of range in just 10 minutes.

It remains to be seen what size and type of battery pack Audi will use in the Q6 e-tron, but the firm says the PPE platform is capable of covering more than 700km (around 430 miles) when powering the more aerodynamic A6 e-tron concept. The slightly blunter surfacing on the SUV will dent the range, but a figure of more than 380 miles should be achievable.

Given the relationship to the e-tron GT under the Q6’s bodywork, we should also see that car’s 469bhp (or 523bhp with overboost engaged) four-wheel drive powertrain transfer over. More affordable, lower-powered single-motor variants are also likely, while at the other end of the range Audi’s RS division could line-up a more performance-focused model. That’ll probably use the same 636bhp powertrain as the RS e-tron GT.

The Q6 e-tron will go into production at Audi’s Ingolstadt factory this year, which the brand is converting to an all-electric assembly line, removing the existing equipment that produces the brand’s A3 family hatch and replacing it with production facilities to accommodate the PPE platform.

This also includes the development of an in-house battery assembly facility. The Volkswagen Group (Audi’s parent company) has already signed a trio of partnerships to secure the raw materials and development processes required for its next-generation battery packs up to 2030.

Following the Q6 e-tron, Audi confirmed that its first “Project Artemis” model will launch in 2024. The car will be aimed at the luxury sector, spearheading Audi’s development of future electronic vehicle architecture, technology and operating systems.

Now read about the upcoming Q8 e-tron…

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