December 2018 marked the arrival of the Audi e-tron, the primary in a large onslaught of post-dieselgate electrical autos from Volkswagen Group. With manufacturers throughout VW Group still working on new bespoke EV platforms and architectures, the e-tron was a little bit of a stopgap, supposed to succeed in the market rapidly to point out that higher administration was now critical about electrification. Now it has firm within the type of the brand new Audi e-tron Sportback.
Audi says that the e-tron Sportback is for its prospects who care in regards to the planet but additionally about aesthetics—mainly you purchase this automobile if the considered an A7‘s carbon footprint is insufferable. To my eyes, the design staff ought to take into account its work a hit. The e-tron Sportback is a extra engaging car than both the e-tron SUV or the carefully associated (however inner combustion engine-powered) Q8. Actually, when you ignore every little thing beneath the highest of the wheel arches, it is a stunner, notably the flare of the bodywork across the rear wheel after which that little ducktail spoiler.
General, the roofline of the e-tron Sportback is about half an inch (12.7mm) decrease than the e-tron, and in US-spec with reflective side-view mirrors it has a drag coefficient of 0.28 (a discount of 0.02).
Below these lithe physique panels, the powertrain is near-identical between the e-tron and e-tron Sportback. Which means a pair of asynchronous induction motors, one for every axle, with a mixed energy output of 265kW (335hp) and 561Nm (413lb-ft), with the flexibility to spice up that to 300kW (402hp) and 664Nm (490lb-ft) for brief bursts. The motors are powered by a 95kWh lithium-ion battery pack composed of 36 modules, every containing 12 60Ah pouch cells.
Extra useable kilowatt-hours
One factor that has modified is how a lot of the battery’s state of cost can be utilized for driving—for the e-tron Sportback (and MY2021 e-tron SUVs) the driving force can entry 86.5kWh. This is a rise of just about 3kWh in comparison with final yr’s mannequin, however Audi continues to be being very conservative in sustaining a 10-percent overhead on the battery in comparison with different battery EV builders.
A barely greater useable SoC is not the one enchancment over the e-tron I drove all these months in the past. As you’d anticipate, Audi’s engineers have used knowledge from the unique wave of e-trons to refine the powertrain’s software program. For one factor, the e-tron Sportback (and we presume the 2021 e-tron SUV) will solely use the rear electrical motor underneath most circumstances. It is capable of coast extra effectively and with much less drag from the brakes. And the utmost degree of regenerative braking (ie the braking that happens whenever you raise your foot off the accelerator pedal) has gone up by 30 p.c.
One other new addition is an computerized setting for regen. Partly, this works just like the system in Kia and Hyundai’s BEVs, leveraging the forward-looking cruise management radar whenever you’re coasting in order that if a automobile in entrance begins to sluggish, you additionally decelerate on the identical fee. Along with matching the deceleration fee of a automobile forward, if a navigation route is lively, it can additionally use topographic knowledge to extend regen happening hills and earlier than sharp corners. Should you’re not a fan of letting the automobile resolve for itself, you may change this to handbook after which use the steering wheel paddles to extend or lower regen ranges manually.
DC quick charging is quick
It is nonetheless not the longest-legged BEV you should purchase. The EPA range estimate for the e-tron Sportback is 218 miles (350km), up from 204 miles (328km) for the 2019 e-tron. That works out to 2.3miles/kWh (27kWh/100km), which is precisely what I averaged over the course of six hours and 130 miles within the driver’s seat. Nonetheless, I ought to be aware that with the e-tron Sportback in Effectivity mode, I used to be additionally capable of common a significantly better 3.7 miles/kWh (16.8kWh/100km), which means that it ought to be attainable to drive greater than 218 miles earlier than having to plug in once more.
I must also add that this 2.3kWh/mile common included a good bit of spirited driving in an try to run the battery down beneath 20-percent SoC (state of cost) as a way to check out DC quick charging. This taught me just a few issues. First, the e-tron Sportback could be practically mechanically equivalent to the e-tron SUV, nevertheless it’s extra enjoyable to drive. The usual adaptive air suspension is on par with the Öhlins-damped Polestar 2 in terms of isolating the driving force from tough street surfaces and likewise conserving the chassis composed. It is about as participating to drive because the Polestar 2, however for pure driving enjoyable, I might nonetheless suggest a Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3 Performance in terms of sub-$100k BEVs.
Second, DC quick charging is certainly quick. After working the battery right down to 19-percent SoC I plugged it in to a 150kW Electrify America charger, which introduced me again to 80-percent SoC in 22 minutes—that is as quick as Porsche’s Taycan, which might settle for a lot greater cost charges. Because it was 8am and there was nobody else round, I allowed the e-tron Sportback to cost to one hundred pc, which took one other 13 minutes (for an general cost time of 35 minutes to go from 19 to one hundred pc). For the hardcore charging nerds on the market, the e-tron Sportback was capable of cost at 146kW for a lot of the session. It had dropped to 114kW by 80 p.c and was at 56kW for the ultimate minute.
Some toys will not be for US consumption
There are some options and choices for the e-tron Sportback that you simply will not get to pattern when you dwell within the US. When sitting within the driver’s seat, huge voids within the door playing cards are a reminder that in different markets, you can option this BEV with side-view cameras instead of mirrors. It is a cool concept, and one which modestly cuts drag, however as I came upon on the finish of 2018, Audi’s implementation left rather a lot to be desired, and the truth that the US Division of Transportation will not permit side-view cameras will save e-tron prospects from losing nevertheless a lot it will price to tick that field at order time.
For MY2021, US-bound e-tron Sportbacks may have the choice to be fitted with digital matrix headlights. The expertise makes use of a 1.2 megapixel LED that projects a beam that can be constantly adjusted in an effort to nonetheless have your excessive beams on and never blind oncoming drivers. However just like the laser headlights Audi wanted to import in 2014, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards make no allowance for something aside from easy excessive and low beams. So whereas US-spec e-tron Sportbacks with these headlights will delight and amuse the driving force (and any onlookers) with a spread of animations when the automobile is turned on or off, they will not do a lot else that the conventional headlights will not do.
In most different regards, the e-tron Sportback does precisely what you assume an Audi SUV ought to do. The inside stays a delight, with high-quality supplies and a pretty design that stands out in comparison with different BEVs. The steering wheel now has capacitive sensors in it, so it screens your hand-on-wheel time when you’re utilizing lane conserving. (The primary visible reminder to place your fingers again on the wheel is at 5 seconds, and at 15 seconds lane conserving disengages.) There is a broad suite of superior driver help techniques, and I notably liked the way in which the LED cabin lights within the doorways illuminate pink as an additional warning when the cross-traffic alert is triggered.
For MY2020, there are simply two trim ranges for the e-tron Sportback: the Premium Plus, which begins at $77,400 earlier than tax credit, and the totally loaded Version One which prices a hefty $88,495 earlier than tax credit. The Version One is the model we drove, and you will acknowledge it by the distinctive Monaco Blue paint, orange brake calipers, and people 21-inch wheels. Solely 200 of these are coming to the US, although, and we imagine they may all have been offered now. For MY2021, the e-tron Sportback will are available in Audi’s regular three trims: there is a new entry-level Premium automobile at $69,100, Premium Plus at $78,000, or Status at $82,300.
Itemizing picture by Audi