► New Audi E-tron Sportback unveiled
► Official specs of coupe SUV
► Plus, we test new DML lights
Audi’s released more details of its new e-Tron Sportback ahead of a spring 2020 on-sale date in Europe.
We’ve also had a passenger ride in the new, swoopier model, which for all intents and purposes is simply a chopped-roof version of the electric SUV. That is to say, everything in terms of interior tech, design and drivetrain is carried over.
Like with other Audi cars in this mould, the e-tron Sportback features something of a firmer suspension set-up than the standard car.
Give me e-Tron Sportback specs
So, just like the regular e-Tron SUV, there are two power variants for now: a 50 and a 55, as part of Audi’s usual power variant nomenclature. That translates to 308bhp/398lb ft and 355bhp/413lb ft respectively. with Audi claiming up to 277 miles of range from the lesser-powered variant.
The 50 has a 71kWh battery, while the 55 has a larger capacity 95kWh – both have a motor on each axle for e-quattro all-wheel drive.
Elsewhere, we know that an e-Tron S variant is coming with three e-motors and more power – we’ve driven a prototype here.
The Sportback variant is largely the same as the regular e-Tron SUV in terms of its interior, technology (including those odd Virtual mirrors). What is new, though, are Audi’s Digital Matrix lights...
Debut of Audi’s Digital Matrix Lights
Also new on the Sportback is the latest version of Ingolstadt’s adaptive headlights, called Digital Matrix Lights (DML). In terms of function they offer a more precise beam pattern to the existing Matrix LED system, with a few additional features.
Rather than banks of diodes lighting up the road the DML headlights use a reflective chip about the size of fingernail that contains 1.3 million microscopic mirrors, which can tilt up to 5000 times a second. It’s ostensibly the same tech as a cinema projector.
That allows light to be beamed exactly where it’s needed, enveloping other cars much more accurately than the previous system. It needs to be convincing better than that system though – Audi says this will likely be a €4000 option, or around £3500.
Its party trick is that it can illuminate a carpet of light onto the motorway lane in front of you, constrained by the white lines, and curving with the topography of the road. Onto this carpet two lines of chevrons show the exact width of the car including door mirrors – useful for sizing up gaps in traffic or goalposting between narrow roadworks.
We tried it in Los Angeles in nighttime conditions and it's uncanny how it works; it's real augmented reality in action (see below).
Then when it comes to parking up, one of five animations can be beamed onto your driveway or garage door for additional attention seeking flair.
Technologically it would be possible to actually project a film onto the side of your house using your car’s headlights, but don’t expect to see this feature homologated in the production Audi E-tron Sportback.
Los Angeles motor show: our full guide