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WORLD PREMIERE: Audi A6 e-tron — Audi’s Tesla Model 3-Fighter

Audi’s electric offensive is far from slowing down, in fact it’s speeding up. Fresh off the release of the Audi Q4 e-tron, and the Q4 e-tron Sportback, the four-ringed brand has another all-new electric vehicle — the Audi A6 e-tron Concept.

 

At the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show, Audi unveiled the A6 e-tron Concept, a four-door sportback electric sedan, similar in size to the Audi A5 Sportback. The Audi A6 e-tron is also the first vehicle to be built on Audi’s and Porsche’s PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture, rather than the J1 platform of the e-tron GT and MEB platform of the Q4 e-tron. Moving forward, all larger Audi EVs will be PPE-based.

 

Sitting at 4.96 meters long (195 in), 1.96 meters wide (77 in), and 1.44 (56 in) tall, the A6 e-tron is similarly sized to the A5 Sportback and, more importantly, within striking distance of the ever-so-popular Tesla Model 3. While the A6 e-tron is a bit longer and wider than the Model 3, it’s actually a bit lower and sleeker looking.

 

More importantly than its size, the Audi A6 e-tron is said to boast a range of up to 700 km (434 miles), which would give it the best range of any Audi EV. Audi is vague on the exact details of the battery pack but it claims the top-end model will have a battery density of around 100 kWh, which is about what the longest-range EVs in the industry have at the moment.

 

Being a PPE-based vehicle, the Audi A6 e-tron will also get 800-volt charging technology, just as the e-tron GT does. Also like the e-tron GT, the A6 e-tron is capable of 270 kW charging. If you can find a charger with 270 kW charging capability, it will be able to add 186 miles (300 km) back to the battery in just ten minutes. In under 25 minutes, it will be able to charge from 5-80 percent.

 

As for power, Audi has only said that there will be a dual-motor model with 496 horsepower (350 kW) and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque. That puts it right in line with cars like the Tesla Model 3 and BMW i4. Audi claims that model will hit 60 mph in under four seconds but didn’t provide exact figures. There will also be an entry-level model that hits 60 mph in under seven seconds.

 

It also boasts a very impressive coefficient of drag, at just 0.22, which is the best in the segment, better even than the Model 3’s 0.23. It’s not as good as the Mercedes-Benz’s EQS, which hits 0.20, but it’s better than anything in its class and price point.

 

Audi also wants to make the A6 e-tron handle like a proper sports car. Being based on PPE, it will be a rear-biased car, so single motor cars will be rear-wheel drive and dual-motor cars will have a rear-bias to their power delivery. Up front, a new five-link front axle suspension, which has been optimized for EVs, should deliver superior front end grip and response to any current Audi sedan. Like most other Audis, it also gets a multi-link rear suspension. The concept car shown here also sits on air suspension with adaptive dampers.

 

Let’s also talk about the way it looks because the Audi A6 e-tron is not only unlike other e-tron products but it looks very different from any current Audi. It’s long, low, and smooth, featuring more subtle body lines than the e-tron GT. It still boasts muscular rear wheel arches and its shoulder line still sort of disappears in the middle, but it’s far less aggressive than its older sibling.

 

For an Audi, it features very short overhangs and its massive 20″ wheels fill its wheel arches nicely. The fast sportback roofline looks as if it boasts a liftback tailgate, like the A5 Sportback, and it even features a bit of a ducktail spoiler. The concept car features virtual side mirrors, and will likely offer them as options, but they won’t make it to every market, at least not right away.

 

Up front, a massive Singleframe “grille” dominates the design but Audi has carefully blended it into the design of the car, so as it not make it too outlandish. For example, the grille actually just a body-colored blank panel, with some geometry designed into it to remind you of a traditional car’s grille. Because it’s body-colored, it doesn’t look like a monster grille but it does have some black trim surrounding it, to separate it from the rest of the car.

 

Being an Audi concept, it needs killer lighting and it gets it. Ultra-slim headlights sit above the grille and feature a new light design. They’re simpler and smaller than those found on the e-tron GT, or any other Audi for that matter, and look quite good. Out back, a large rear light bar makes up the taillights and features slick looking OLED light elements inside.

 

More interesting than just its lights, though, are its LED projectors. Built into the sides of the car, and into its corners, are small light projectors that can display words and images onto the ground. For example, when you open the door, it can project words onto the ground next to the car. Or it can project warning triangles onto the ground surrounding the car, warning an oncoming cyclist that the doors are open at night.

 

Yet, it gets even more bizarrely hilarious. The Digital Matrix LED headlights can also project images in real time and Audi has even built a video game into them. The idea is that, if you’re sat at a charging station, facing a wall, you can kill some time by playing a video game projected onto the wall in front of you. The game was developed by Audi and is controlled via smartphone.

 

The Audi A6 e-tron is shaping up to be a very interesting car for the brand. It will allow Audi to take on the Tesla Model 3 and BMW i4. While official specs aren’t yet revealed and we don’t know how true to this concept the production car will be, the A6 e-tron seems to have what it takes to challenge the best in the business.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.