Audi chose the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show to host the world premiere of the all-new e-tron Sportback electric SUV.
Based on the e-tron quattro that went on sale in Canada earlier this year, this latest model stands out with a sloping roofline that creates a coupe-like profile—the big design trend spreading across the auto industry.
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The powertrain is the same, namely a pair of liquid-cooled electric motors (one in front, another in the rear). Torque distribution between the two axles is managed electronically. Selective braking does the same between the two rear wheels.
A liquid-cooled 95-kWh battery the size of a twin mattress supplies energy to the motors. Mounted under the cabin floor, it is exceptionally rigid and crash-proof thanks to a solid protective frame and an aluminum laminate that holds the 36 cell modules. More importantly, it provides a range of 400 kilometres.
The charging flap is located on the driver’s side, just ahead of the door. One port allows traditional AC charging and another port is designed for DC fast charging. At up to 150 kW, the battery reaches 80 percent of its capacity in just under half an hour.
What about performance? Well, the 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback weighs nearly 2.5 metric tons like the regular e-tron, but it still manages to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds. That’s because the motors generate a combined 265 kilowatts, or 355 horsepower, while peak torque is rated at 414 pound-feet. A boost mode temporarily increases output to 402 horsepower and torque to 490 pound-feet.
Outside, the e-tron Sportback obviously borrows many design cues from the e-tron quattro, though aerodynamics are improved as evidenced by the lower drag coefficient of just 0.25.
Digital matrix LED headlights deliver sharp lighting thanks to a million micromirrors. The Singleframe grille has adjustable intakes that control airflow for cooling. Optionally, wing-shaped cameras replace the conventional side mirrors and the captured images appear on high-contrast OLED displays.
The interior features a trio of touchscreens—one on the left side of the steering wheel and two others on the centre stack like in the new A8, A7, A6 and Q8. Audi’s virtual cockpit replaces the gauges in front of the driver to create a high-tech, all-digital interface. Interestingly, the gear selector was designed to double as a handrest to make interacting with the touchscreens easier and more comfortable.
All these displays come to life in a welcome sequence when you start the vehicle. In the rear, legroom is more generous than in a Q5, while cargo capacity is roughly identical to the Q8.
The 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback will soon go on sale in the same markets where the e-tron quattro is already offered. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it will likely start near $100,000.