Electric crossovers are becoming a staple of the Los Angeles Auto Show and Audi has used the event to unveil the new e-tron Sportback.
Essentially a sportier version of the standard e-tron, the Sportback is a stylish crossover coupe with an electric powertrain.
The front end is instantly recognizable and features a prominent Singleframe grille with a light platinum gray finish. It is flanked by sporty air intakes and newly available digital matrix LED headlights. The latter are a first for a mass-production vehicle and the light projected from them is broken down into tiny pixels which can be controlled with “exceptional precision.”
Audi says the headlights each feature a micromirror that can be tilted up to 5,000 times per second. This allows them to illuminate or mask out areas with amazing accuracy. More interestingly, they can project animations on the wall or ground and effectively turn the area in front of the car into an “illuminated stage.”
Of course, the Sportback’s most distinctive feature is the coupe-like design. While the standard model looks a little ho-hum, that’s certain not the case this time around as the crossover has a rakish windscreen and a steeply sloping roof. The icing on the cake is a sporty tailgate with an integrated rear spoiler.
Other notable features include slender taillights, muscular rear fenders and a modest diffuser that draws attention to the missing tailpipes. The model comes standard with anthracite body cladding, but customers can also opt for gray or body color trim. Likewise, the standard 19-inch wheels can be swapped out for ones that measure up to 22-inches.
Speaking of options, the S line variant has an even more aggressive appearance thanks to a sportier front bumper, a rear spoiler and 20-inch wheels. The package also includes a sport-tuned air suspension and illuminated door sill plates with an S logo.
The swoopy styling and digital mirrors give the S Line variant a drag coefficient of 0.25. This isn’t just a meaningless boast as the improved aerodynamics mean the Sportback can travel about 6.2 miles (10 km) further than the standard model.
A Stylish And High-Tech Interior
As expected, there are some concessions made in the name of styling. The most obvious victim is rear seat headroom which is down by 0.8 inches (20 mm). Storage space also takes a hit as the boot can only accommodate 58.4 cubic feet (1,655 liters) of luggage when the rear seats are folded down. On the bright side, there’s a frunk which can hold 2.1 cubic feet (60 liters) of gear.
While some dimensions change, the cabin is instantly recognizable. It’s high-tech and comes equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.1-inch infotainment system and a lower 8.6-inch display that provides access to climate control and convenience settings.
An assortment of options will be available including heated, ventilated and massaging front seats as well as ambient lighting and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. Customers can also order a number of driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise assist, park assist, night vision assist and a surround view monitor.
Two Powertrains With Up To 355 HP
The range-topping e-tron Sportback 55 quattro features a 95 kWh battery that powers two electric motors which develop a combined output of 355 hp (265 kW / 360 PS) and 414 lb-ft (561 Nm) of torque. This enables the crossover to accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 6.6 seconds, hit a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h) and travel up to 277 miles (466 km) on a single charge in the WLTP cycle.
When drivers put the Sportback 55 into S mode, the electric motors can generate 402 hp (300 kW / 408 PS) and 490 lb-ft (664 Nm) of torque for eight seconds at a time. Thanks to the extra juice, the 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time drops to just 5.7 seconds.
Buyers looking to save a few bucks as well as the planet can opt for the e-tron Sportback 50. It uses a smaller 71 kWh battery and less powerful electric motors that develop 308 hp (230 kW / 313 PS) and 398 lb-ft (540 Nm) of torque.
Due to these changes, the dash to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes 6.8 seconds and the top speed is 118 mph (190 km/h). Those aren’t the only trade offs as the entry-level variant has a range of just 216 miles (347 km).
Drivers Can Get An 80% Charge In Less Than 30 Minutes
While Audi is famous for quattro all-wheel drive, the Sportback is actually rear-wheel drive most of the time. This helps to improve efficiency and all-wheel drive can be activated instantly if needed. This can happen even before a slip occurs, if the car detects icy conditions, fast cornering, or over- / understeer.
When it comes time to recharge, owners can get an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes using a 120 kW (Sportback 50) or 150 kW (Sportback 55) DC fast charger. However, most charging is done at home and Sportback comes standard with a charger that works with a 230-volt connection.
The e-tron Sportback will go up for order later this month and a European launch is scheduled for next spring. In Germany, pricing will start at €71,350.
To highlight the all-new model, Audi will offer an “Edition One” variant that has a plasma blue exterior, digital side mirrors and exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels. Other highlights include a panoramic glass sunroof, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and Valcona leather.