It isn’t unusual for shoppers to be at odds between looks, performance, practicality, sustainability, and elegance. Audi on Tuesday night revealed what might be its best attempt yet to break down those barriers—with a swoopier, more elegant version of its E-Tron SUV, called the E-Tron Sportback.
The E-Tron Sportback, according to Audi, “combines the power of a spacious SUV with the elegance of a four-door coupe and the progressive character of an electric car.”
What that means, primarily, is a sexy new roofline, combined with a long list of cosmetic adjustments to match, making the Sportback the “coupe” of the E-Tron lineup.
Although the Sportback up close tends to look lower than the E-Tron SUV, Audi confirmed to Green Car Reports that isn't so. We'll blame that on the soft contour of the roofline, which at its peak is slightly lower than that of the SUV.
Audi E-tron Sportback
The output of the E-Tron Sportback, in boost mode, is up to 402 horsepower (300 kw). With its normal output of 355 horsepower and 414 pound-feet, the E-Tron can get from 0 to 62 mph in 6.6 seconds, but in boost mode it’s reduced to 5.7 seconds.
The Sportback’s battery is the same 95 kwh as in the rest of the E-Tron lineup, with a gross rating of 86.5 kwh. The pack has 27 modules, each with 12 prismatic cells. It serves as a structural aid to the body and is described as “exceptionally rigid and crash-proof—with the cooling system beneath the cell chamber."
The E-Tron Sportback can charge at up to 150 kw on CCS DC fast charging and can recover 80 percent of its capacity in less than a half hour. According to the WLTP cycle, Audi says that the Sportback will return up to 277 miles of range.
As with the E-Tron SUV, the E-Tron Sportback has a regenerative braking system that can provide up to 0.3g with a lift off the accelerator and up to 220 kw of recuperative energy during braking. Its special system truly brakes by wire but has a hydraulic/mechanical connection as a fallback.
The Sportback is the first vehicle to have digital matrix LED headlamps. Offered at the top of the model range, they break light “into minute pixels,” and each of these act as tiny projectors aimed with micromirrors up to 5,000 times per seconds. The sophisticated lighting system not only acts as headlights would, but it can help draw attention to pedestrians as they’re spotted or create a “carpet of light” when the driver changes lanes.
As with the E-Tron SUV's virtual mirrors, the digital headlights aren't yet U.S.-legal,
Audi E-tron Sportback
With a different roofline, the stance of the Sportback appears completely different. Wheel and tire sizes range from 19 inches up to 22 inches, and the Sportback comes with an adaptive air suspension that can raise the ride height when needed by up to 3 inches.
Does the Sportback hit the right sweet spot? It’s going to depend on how the interior works for you. At first glance the E-tron Sportback has the same very plush, tech-equipped interior as the E-tron SUV, with an upper 12.1-inch touch screen and lower 8.6-inch display with haptic touch. And there’s nearly as much space. For taller passengers there are two carved-out areas of the headliner that help accommodate taller people, but there's no mistaking that it's down some rear headroom. The height of the actual seat and the positioning of the floor is unchanged, though.
The E-Tron Sportback will arrive at U.S. dealerships by spring 2020.