Competes with: Ford Mustang Mach-E, Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model X
Looks like: It could have come from BMW’s design studio — there’s a lot of the X4’s profile in the E-Tron Sportback
Powertrain: Standard all-wheel drive with two electric motors; 308-horsepower, 398 pounds-feet of torque (50 Quattro); 355-hp, 414 pounds-feet of torque (55 Quattro); 216 miles (50 Quattro) or 277 miles (55 Quattro) of estimated range on global cycle (not EPA)
Hits dealerships: Spring to early summer 2020
The Audi E-Tron welcomes a second all-electric member of the Audi family, a Sportback version of the E-Tron that offers sleeker, more dramatic styling and a fastback shape. Audi announced at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show that two variants of the E-Tron Sportback would launch together — a shorter-range, less-powerful E-Tron Sportback 50 and an E-Tron Sportback 55 with more power and range.
Related: More 2019 L.A. Auto Show Coverage
The E-Tron Sportback is a fairly dramatic shift from the more traditionally styled E-Tron SUV. A quick glance at the profile reveals a long, sloping roofline that gives it more of a fastback look — a la BMW’s X4 and X6, and the new Ford Mustang Mach-E that debuted at the L.A. auto show as well.
The E-Tron Sportback’s new styling isn’t just for looks, as it also makes the vehicle more aerodynamic and according to Audi, that accounts for an additional 6.2 miles of increased range over the SUV variant.
The front of the Sportback does look similar to the regular E-Tron. An octagonal front grille remains the dominant visual presence, flanked by headlight clusters with four horizontal notches to give the E-Tron some distinction from the rest of the Audi lineup. There are rather prominent side sills on the bottom of the E-Tron Sportback, which combine with the wide rear diffuser to make the vehicle look low and planted from all angles. Also available is an S Line Package, which comes with 20-inch wheels, a sport air suspension, badging, rear spoiler and a more aggressive front bumper.
The E-Tron Sportback seats five just like the regular E-Tron, and the sloping roofline doesn’t have much of an effect on rear headroom, which falls by only 0.8 of an inch. What‘s compromised is cargo room, as the Sportback has 21.7 cubic feet behind the backseat whereas there’s 28.5 cubic feet in the SUV. Curiously, with the seats folded, the Sportback somehow has more cargo room, 58.4 cubic feet to 57 cubic feet in the SUV.
Audi’s familiar two-screen center console setup is here, offering a 12.1-inch touchscreen for multimedia and navigation, while below it is an 8.6-inch display that operates the climate controls, convenience functions and text input via handwriting. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, with a 12.3-inch screen that makes the instrument panel fully digital, is also standard.
There are two versions of the E-Tron Sportback, the 50 Quattro and 55 Quattro, that have stark differences in power output and range. Both share standard all-wheel drive that places an electric motor on each axle. For the 50 Quattro, which is new to the E-Tron, total output is 308 horsepower and 398 pounds-feet of torque to go with a 71-kilowatt-hour battery. The 55 Quattro bumps up those figures to 355 hp and 414 pounds-feet of torque with a 95-kwh battery, like the regular E-Tron.
Audi did offer range estimates, but they come with caveats for the U.S. market. The 50 Quattro has 216 miles of range and the 55 Quattro 277 miles of range using the worldwide harmonized light vehicles test procedure, not the EPA cycle that gives the regular E-Tron 204 miles of maximum range. When official EPA figures are published, chances are good they will be lower.
We won’t hazard a guess as to what they might be, but we can look to the regular E-Tron SUV for perspective. That vehicle comes with the same size battery found in the 55 Quattro and has a WLTP range of 255 miles. But the EPA-estimated range is only 204 miles — a significant difference.
The 55 Quattro can charge at up to 150 kilowatts and the 50 Quattro at up to 120 kW, though Audi says that both models can charge up to 80% battery capacity in just less than half an hour at a fast-charging station.
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Standard safety features include automatic forward emergency braking through Audi Pre Sense Front and Audi Pre Sense Basic, but most of the other driver assistance technology is included in different packages. The City Package adds rear cross-traffic alerts, lane change and exit warnings, and intersection assist. Adding the Tour Package gets you adaptive cruise control. Stand-alone safety options include a park assist system, a 360-degree camera system and night vision assist.
You’ll notice that we’re looking at the European spec version of the vehicle in photos — that’s why instead of traditional side mirrors, you’ll see a camera that projects an image of that side on a display between the instrument panel and the door. Audi says this system is under federal review but has not yet been cleared, so we’ll be stuck with traditional mirrors for the time being.
Final pricing has not yet been set for the Audi E-Tron Sportback, though it is likely to carry a small premium according to Audi. It will qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit when it does land. The E-Tron Sportback is scheduled to arrive in dealerships in spring to early summer 2020.
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