► New Audi E-tron Sportback pricing unveiled
► Costs between £79,900 and £95,100
► Plus, hot S performance model
Audi says it’s sorted out a smooth transition to electric propulsion for its customers with the comfortingly familiar e-Tron SUV, and now it’s time to ramp things up with the bolder, more distinctive e-Tron Sportback.
This follows the same protocol as the Q3 SUV and Sportback, meaning a coupe-like roofline and performance-focussed spec – so at first you’ll only be able to buy the more powerful 55 Quattro, and the trim structure starts at £79,000 for an S Line.
Best electric SUVs
This means a sportier bodykit, 21-inch wheels, Matrix LED headlights and a more dynamic tune for the air suspension.
Inside you get electrically adjustable sport seats trimmed in Valcona leather and a load of tech carried over from the SUV, including Virtual Cockpit, touchscreen MMI, and wireless phone charging.
One up from S Line is the £85,900 Launch Edition, with black exterior trim, different 21-inch alloy wheels, virtual door mirrors (basically a camera) and full-length panoramic sunroof. In terms of driver assistance tech the Launch Edition gets a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise assist and monitoring of all your blind spots.
Finally the top of the tree is the £95,100 Vorsprung car with 22-inch matt titanium alloy wheels and orange brake calipers. The doors have a power close feature and the steering wheel is heated. Plus you get a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo and diamond-stitched super sport seats.
Is it much less practical?
Not really, the new roofline eats into 20mm of headroom versus the SUV and there's space for 615 litres of luggage split between the front and rear boots. Fold the rear seats and this increases to 1,665 litres.
Audi has also officially unveiled the e-Tron S model, shown here in Sportback format. It goes on sale summer 2020, priced at £88,700 for the swoopier model here.
Little is different between this and the regular e-Tron electric SUV. That is to say, everything in terms of interior tech, design and drivetrain is carried over. However, like with other Audi cars in this mould, the e-tron Sportback features something of a firmer suspension set-up than the standard car. Keep reading for more intel on the e-Tron Sportback.
Audi e-Tron Sportback S details
As expected, Audi has introduced an S performance model for the e-Tron and its Sportback model. Power is rated at 496bhp and a whopping 718lb ft of torque - quite a difference over the highest-powered non-S variant, the 55 quattro. The 95kWh battery (in which Audi says 86kWh of it is usable to the driver) allows up to 226 miles of range.
The e-Tron S has a three-motor setup instead of the quattro's regular two; one motor drives the front axle and two drive each rear wheel individually. In normal driving situations, only the rear motors are active, with the front stepping in when grip is lost. There is a sport setting for the ESC and, when coupled with dynamic mode on the drive select, Audi says this EV can drift. We proved that when we drove a prototype model.
Elsewhere, the adaptive air suspension has been lowered and tweaked for the S model and UK cars feature 21-inch wheels as standard, while wheelarch inserts make the S models 23mm wider than a standard e-Tron.
Give me the regular 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.
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