Car News

Audi Debuts Second SUV in Electric E-Tron Lineup

The Audi E-tron Sportback 55, the second member of the brand's electric SUV family, has just debuted with European orders opening up later this month.

Following on the E-tron SUV that arrived as a 2019 model, the Sportback trades that car's upright body for a sportier look that sacrifices some interior space in the name of style. But the Sportback's styling isn't all for show: when fitted with an S line exterior trim package and optional camera-based side mirrors, the car boasts a 0.25 coefficient of drag, making the Sportback more aerodynamic than the standard E-tron.

A 95 kWh battery pack feeds electric motors that, in turn, deliver as much as 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque to the wheels, which Audi says is good for a 6.6-second sprint from 0-100 km/h. Audi also says the E-tron promises 446 km of driving range according to the worldwide harmonized light vehicle test protocol (WLTP). That tends to be an optimistic measure of an EV's potential: Audi claimed 400 km for the E-tron, but Natural Resources Canada shows its estimated range as just 329 km.

The Audi E-tron Sportback gets most of its drive from the motor mounted at its rear axle, with the front motor contributing to provide Quattro AWD grip in slippy conditions and during spirited acceleration. Audi's S line package also includes an air suspension that adapts based on the driver's chosen performance mode.

Inside, the E-tron Sportback's 616L of cargo volume is about 45L less than the standard E-tron, but has a small front trunk similar to that in its more practical sibling. Aside from the Sportback's presumably less-spacious rear seat, its interior is largely shared with the E-Tron, including dual infotainment touchscreens and Audi's virtual cockpit digital gauge cluster.

There will also be an E-Tron Sportback 50 variant with a smaller battery that Audi says will deliver a little more than 300 hp and about 400 lb-ft, and a shorter driving range of 347 km based on WLTP estimates.

The E-tron Sportback 55's battery will charge up to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes when connected to a 150 kW fast charger.

Audi says the E-tron Sportback will be the first mass-produced car available with digital matrix LED headlights that allow more precise control of how and where the light is projected. The LEDs can create low-beam patterns customized for city and highway driving, can automatically adjust the high-beam pattern to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers, and can help the driver keep the car centred in its lane.

Audi will begin taking orders for the E-Tron Sportback later this month, with the car's European market launch planned for Spring 2020 at a starting price of 71,350 Euros. Audi Canada's Cort Nielsen said the new model will arrive in Canada in the second half of 2020.