Audi’s new all-electric A6 e-tron has been spied in camouflage ahead of its reveal
We’ve already seen the Audi A6 e-tron in concept form at the 2021 Shanghai Motor Show. This, however, is our first look at the production model – which will rival the likes of the Tesla Model S and upcoming BMW i5. These spy shots indicate that the final model will maintain the same profile as the concept car, with a sloping roofline and fastback rear hatch – similar to the A7 Sportback.
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A big change over the concept is visible at the front where we see a split headlight design rather than the concept’s single unit. There’s also a blanked-off grille in Audi’s typical trapezoidal shape with air ducts beneath the headlights. On the concept this allowed an impressively low drag coefficient of just 0.22Cd and we would expect something similarly slippery from the production car.
Instead of the concept’s rearview cameras, this prototype features more traditional wing mirrors, although we could see the digital version appear as an option. There’s also a crease low down on the A6 e-tron’s side – a prominent design element which is carried over from the concept.
At the back, the rear lights look to have changed drastically over those on the concept, there’s no longer a full-length light bar split by an illuminated badge. Instead, there are quad circular lights unlike anything seen on the current Audi range so it’s likely this design is just for testing purposes. Below, the test car sports a similar diffuser shape that’s a little less aggressive-looking than the concept’s.
The A6 e-tron is expected to hit the market in 2023, and it’ll be based on Audi’s new PPE Premium Platform Electric architecture for electric cars. It’s the first Audi on PPE we’ve seen, although it’ll be the second model to arrive because the firm’s Q6 e-tron is expected to go on sale later this year using that technology.
The new PPE architecture allows what Audi calls “flat” cars – think saloons, coupes and estates – rather than just SUVs and higher-riding hatchbacks like those we have seen on the VW Group’s smaller MEB electric car platform. Audi’s own Q4 e-tron SUV and Q4 e-tron Sportback use that technology.
Platform, size and styling
The PPE platform’s clever packaging allows for a flat floor, which means a lower roofline is possible without compromising space inside, and the A6 e-tron is a strong example of this concept, according to Audi.
The production model will form part of the A6 family as well, but it’s not thought that the rest of the range will be updated to reflect the A6 e-tron’s styling, so while there will be an electric alternative badged A6, it will still keep some distance from Audi’s ICE and plug-in hybrid executive saloon line-up.
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The PPE platform features a specially optimised five-link front suspension set-up, with a multi-link axle at the rear, both of which are controlled by adaptive air suspension.
The German brand hasn’t revealed any info on boot space yet, but given the PPE platform’s flexibility, with the wheels pushed to the extremes of the car’s bodywork to maximise packaging, the A6 e-tron should be the most spacious and practical member of the A6 family when it joins the line-up. There’s also an A6 e-tron Avant estate model coming that should have even more carrying capacity.
Battery, range and charging
Audi says the PPE platform houses its battery in the floor between the front and rear axles. The A6 e-tron concept uses a 100kWh battery, which gives the car a range of “more than 700km” – or in excess of 434 miles. So the production model could offer the highest range of any electric Audi yet.
In the concept, the battery sends power to a four-wheel drive system and delivers a total output of 469bhp and 800Nm of torque.
Audi didn’t reveal a kerbweight for the A6 e-tron concept but says that “the most powerful members of the [A6 e-tron] family will sprint from 0-62mph in less than four seconds,” while the instant torque of an electric motor means that “even entry-level models designed for efficiency will accelerate to 62mph in less than seven seconds”. Audi will offer other motors for its entry-level A6 e-tron production offerings, with a rear-drive version sitting underneath quattro all-wheel-drive models.
The PPE platform has been designed with 800-volt electronic architecture, which means that the A6 e-tron offers DC rapid charge capability at up to 270kW. As a result, the 100kWh battery can be charged from five to 80 per cent in just 25 minutes, while in just 10 minutes owners will be able to add 300km of range (186 miles).
Although the A6 e-tron will launch after the as-yet-unseen Q6 e-tron, with that SUV also based on the PPE platform, we’d expect similar range and charging technology when it makes its debut later this year.
Lighting and technology
Audi has been a pioneer when it comes to lighting – and the A6 e-tron concept is no different.
The car uses digital matrix LED headlights and digital OLED technology for its tail-lights, with a full-width bar that connects the two clusters. It means the lights can deliver plenty of brightness thanks to their power, but the signature can be slim and sleek. There’s even the possibility to customise the light signature.
The clever lighting extends to some safety features too, as the A6 e-tron features projectors on the sides and the corners of the car that display an image on the ground. This can include signals to warn cyclists that a passenger is about to open the door, or that the car is about to make a turn when on the move.
There’s an element of fun and personalisation to the system as well, as there are lighting effects to welcome users into the car when the doors are opened, with the projectors shining an image or a message onto the ground.
The headlights can actually project a picture onto a wall in front of the car too, so if parked up while charging, users can play video games using a blown-up picture on a surface in front of them, rather than on just the in-car multimedia screen. Players use their smartphone as a controller for the specially developed Audi game.
The rear digital OLED lights can be tailored so users can create custom animations and light signatures, with even Audi’s four-ring emblem made up by the LEDs. Tweaks to the lights have also allowed Audi’s engineers to add a 3D effect to the lighting.
Not all of this technology will likely make it to the production-ready A6 e-tron, but expect much of the lighting advances to be carried across when we see the final car; it’s likely to make its debut in 2022, with sales starting in 2023.
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