by Karl Furlong
The e-tron used to represent a solitary electric crossover within the Audi lineup, but it's now become an electric sub-brand that's growing at a rapid rate. Set to join the mix soon is the new Q6 Sportback e-tron, an electric crossover with sporty styling that will slot in above the Q4 Sportback e-tron. It will use the same Premium Platform Electric (PPE) platform that will underpin the upcoming Porsche Macan EV, which should deliver the driving dynamics necessary to fend off electric rivals from Tesla, Jaguar, and the other Germans. Being an Audi, it's safe to assume that a snazzy interior with all the latest gadgets will be on the menu, while the electric platform should free up more interior space than is typical in a Sportback Audi SUV of this size.
A release date for the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron hasn't been set in stone just yet, but it's fair to assume that it will arrive alongside its Q6 e-tron sibling late in 2023 as a 2024 model. However, the Q6 e-tron was originally meant to be coming out in 2022, so it's possible that the Q6 Sportback e-tron could face further delays.
The smaller Q4 Sportback e-tron starts at an MSRP of $58,200 for the 2023 model, so it won't be a surprise if the price of the 2024 Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron starts at closer to $70,000. This is also because Sportback models are typically priced a bit higher than the more traditionally styled Audi SUVs they're based on.
At that price point, the Q6 Sportback e-tron would be quite a bit more expensive than the Tesla Model Y following the Tesla's recent price cuts. Then again, the Q6 will likely be a larger and more luxurious vehicle. A closer rival in price would be the Jaguar I-Pace which currently begins at $71,300 for the 2023 model. Among its traditional German rivals, more expensive examples of the Q6 Sportback e-tron could overlap with the upcoming, mid-sized Mercedes EQE SUV, as well as the existing BMW iX.
So far, only parts of the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron's exterior have been revealed as the final design remains largely hidden beneath a camo wrap. The sloping roofline is one of the most obvious departures from the standard Q6 e-tron, but it's the split-headlight design that really sets apart this model from previous Audi SUVs. Like the Q4 Sportback e-tron, we expect to see Matrix-design LED headlights and a closed-off interpretation of the brand's Singleframe grille.
Conservative wheel designs were seen, but we are sure that sportier, larger wheels with lower profile tires will be available. Peeking through the camo is a rear spoiler below the window and modern taillights that will probably feature Audi's animated effects on upper trims.
We'll only know what the full range of Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron colors are when it arrives, but if it follows the Q4 Sportback e-tron, we can expect low-key shades like Pebble Gray, Glacier White, and Mythos Black. The Q4 Sportback e-tron's only vibrant color is Navarra Blue, and we do hope the Q6 Sportback e-tron offers a bit more variety in this area.
Expected to be slightly larger than the Q5 Sportback, the dimensions of the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron should still qualify it as a compact crossover. For reference, the Q5 Sportback measures 184.6 inches in length, 65.4 inches in height, and 74.5 inches in width.
Curb weight will be more of a factor with the Q6 Sportback e-tron's heavy battery pack, so expect this electric Audi to weigh in excess of 5,000 pounds.
The base Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron will be anything but slow. As with the cheaper Q4 Sportback e-tron, we expect most versions of the Q6 to come with the famous quattro all-wheel-drive system, dual electric motors, and a single-speed transmission. Previous reports suggest outputs of 469 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, which should be sufficient for a brisk sub-five-second 0-60 time.
That's much more than the 295-hp output of the Q4 Sportback e-tron, so perhaps the Q6 will be tuned to make closer to 400 hp. Besides, an RS-badged model is expected in the future to fill the gap for an overtly performance-oriented model. A less powerful rear-wheel-drive Q6 is not beyond the realm of possibility, but less likely.
Any platform shared with Porsche is likely to lend itself to sporty driving dynamics and will have the flexibility to accommodate features like air suspension, rear-axle steering, and torque vectoring. The Audi Drive Select system with various drive modes, as found on the Q4 Sportback e-tron, should be standard and allow drivers to tailor the driving experience.
The battery size of the Q6 Sportback e-tron is estimated to be up to 100 kWh in capacity, but this is another detail that hasn't been confirmed. This battery size, along with the 800-volt electrical system of the PPE platform, should ensure a competitive range and quick charging times.
Fast DC charging at up to at least 270 kW should be on the cards, allowing for a five to 80 percent charge in under 25 minutes - those numbers were confirmed for the A6 e-tron which shares the same platform. As usual, charging via a Level 2 charger at home is best done overnight. As with the Q4 Sportback e-tron, drivers should be able to manage brake recuperation levels via paddles on the steering wheel.
Audi will be hoping for a maximum driving range of at least 300 miles on a full charge. That wouldn't quite match the Tesla Model Y Long Range, but it's close enough for the Q6 to be competitive.
In November 2022, we were sent spy shots of the inside of the Q6 e-tron. We can expect the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron to share a similar design, but that's not entirely a good thing. Based on the spy shots, it appears Audi has removed even more physical center console buttons, meaning that most functions will need to be accessed via the central touchscreen. This often isn't the most user-friendly decision, but we'll reserve final judgment until we've experienced the production model.
Other than the absence of physical controls, Audi cabins tend to be pretty flawless. In the case of the Q6 Sportback e-tron, we expect peerless quality, attractive ambient lighting, and many features. Wireless smartphone connectivity and climate control are obvious standard items, while upper trims should have adaptive cruise control and an augmented-reality head-up display.
Classy leather upholstery should cover the seats in the Audi Q6 Sportback e-tron, and there should be a few color and trim options available for customization. Although Q5-sized, the PPE platform should enable a flat floor that frees up more interior space. That would be especially beneficial to increase second-row headroom, a common flaw in coupe-style SUVs like this with their sloping rooflines.
Cargo space in the Audi Q6 e-tron Sportback will probably be a few cubic feet less than in the Q6 e-tron, but as the Q4 Sportback e-tron already has 26.1 cubic feet behind its second row, the larger Q6 should have over 30.
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