At the 2019 LA Auto Show, Audi unveiled its latest SUV “Coupe”, the e-tron Sportback. The fact that it’s electric makes the latest e-tron product very important to the brand but today we’re only talking about its design. That’s because Audi has become very good at making “coupe” SUVs, better than every other brand it seems, despite being a bit late to the party.
Audi design boss Marc Lichte acknowledges the fact that the four-ringed brand did not, in fact, invent the coupe-like SUV but it’s something that Audi wanted to improve on. And it’s done that with the e-tron Sportback.
“I have a big respect for BMW for coming up with the idea to combine a coupé with an SUV but, honestly, I don’t like it. We thought ‘how can we do this in a very attractive way?’ and you will see the e-tron Sportback [is the result]. I love it. We took the bottom part of the E-tron, cut the roofline and add the A7 roof. Very simple.” Lichte told Autocar in LA.
Of course the designer of the e-tron Sportback is going to talk up his team’s own design, claiming it to be better looking than the competition. However, we’d actually have to agree. The only other two SUV “coupes” that are roughly the same size as the e-tron Sportback are the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. The electric Audi looks better than both of them.
More importantly than that, I had the chance to sit in the back seat of the e-tron Sportback in LA and it has more rear headroom than both of its competitors. So Audi was able to chop its roofline to make it sportier and more stylish while still maintaining decent rear headroom. While the Mercedes isn’t terrible in the back seat, the X4 is quite cramped. I rode in the back of one during a trip to Monterey and my 5’9″ frame was uncomfortably close to the headliner. Yet I was more than comfortable in the back of the e-tron.
To be honest, I still think the idea of an SUV “coupe” is unnecessary and I’d personally never buy one. I’d have the regular Audi e-tron instead, as I prefer more traditional SUVs. However, if I had to pick one of these faux coupes, it’d be one with four rings on its grille.