Audi’s new all-electric e-tron SUV to rival the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace with 311-mile range
Audi is planning an all-out assault on the premium SUV market, with eight new high-riding models due to arrive before the end of the decade. And the most significant debut will be the all-electric e-tron, previewed in our exclusive images.
Due to appear in production form in the second half of this year, the e-tron is Audi’s response to the slowing demand for diesel models in Europe, and a VW Group-wide push for electrification.
With China and the US also cited as significant markets for the car, it’s clear that Audi has the Tesla Model X in mind as its closest competitor. The firm will also be looking to beat Jaguar’s I-Pace to market; the Jag will be shown in finished form at March’s Geneva Motor Show and go on sale in either June or July.
As our images suggest, the production e-tron is set to be subtly toned down from the design of the concept first seen in 2015. With designer Marc Lichte determined to add more differentiation between models, the e-tron will feature a different front end shape to the Q5 and Q7, with a smaller, partially blanked grille and reshaped headlamps.
A broad shoulder line stretches the length of the SUV’s side profile, while a coupe-like rear end shape helps give it a sleeker look than other Audi SUVs. Aerodynamics are a big focus, as the firm looks to trump the I-Pace with a drag coefficient target of just 0.25Cd, maximising the battery’s range.
We’ve yet to see the interior, but we can expect design and tech influence to be taken from the latest A8. The brand’s Virtual Cockpit will be adapted to show details of range, power usage and charging times, while the dual-screen infotainment set-up from the A8 could also feature. We’d expect level-three autonomous technology to be offered as well, at least as an option. Despite the coupe-like roofline, the e-tron is likely to feature five seats, and its boot space should be similar to a Q5’s.
The SUV sits on an adapted version of the MLB platform that underpins the Q5 and Q7. Details of the e-tron’s powertrain have been kept secret, but the 2015 concept featured three electric motors: one mounted on the front axle, and two spread across the rear axle, providing all-wheel drive.
Audi has previously confirmed that it is targeting a range of 311 miles (500km) from a single charge. Power outputs are still under wraps, although we know the concept claimed to produce 496bhp and 800Nm of torque, translating to a Model X-rivalling 0-62mph sprint time of 4.5 seconds.
It’s possible that Audi will adopt Tesla’s strategy of offering a number of power outputs, allowing a competitive entry price as well as more expensive performance variants. Alternatively, the more potent powertrains could be reserved for a production version of the e-tron Sportback coupe-SUV concept that was shown last year.
Would you pick the Audi e-tron over the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace? Let us know in the comments section below…