They help the electric SUV achieve an impressive drag coefficient of 0.28.
As the much-anticipated Audi e-tron edges closer to production to take on the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X, the German automaker has shared new details about its forthcoming electric crossover. We already know it will have an electric range of over 248 miles, but to achieve this Audi’s engineers have had to meticulously optimize the car’s aerodynamics. After spending over 1,000 hours in the world’s quietest wind tunnel, an e-tron prototype achieved drag coefficient of only 0.28, which is impressively low for a large SUV.
Audi says this is 0.07 less than a comparable, conventionally powered vehicle. This was achieved by tweaking the design to boost the EV’s aerodynamics. One key innovation that enhances the e-tron’s aerodynamics is what Audi is calling “virtual exterior mirrors.” While we’ve seen countless futuristic concept cars fitted with cameras instead of conventional door mirrors, the Audi e-tron features the world’s first production-ready virtual door mirrors. They will only be allowed in countries where they are legal, however. According to Audi, they are much narrower than standard mirrors and reduce the e-tron’s width by 5.9 inches.
Due to their shape, they not only reduce drag, but also eliminate wind noise. Images captured by the small cameras appear on high resolution OLED displays located between the instrument panel and door. Audi says the small cameras will incorporate three view modes for different driving situations: highway, turning and parking. Another factor that improves the e-tron’s aerodynamics is standard air suspension with adjustable damping that lowers the SUV's body by up to 1.0 inches at speeds above 74.6 mph, thus reducing drag. The electric SUV’s underbody is also fully enclosed, while both the front and rear areas are fully paneled.
Elsewhere, a controllable cool-air inlet also helps lower drag by using two electrically operated louvers located behind the singleframe Audi grille. The side air inlets at the front of the Audi e-tron also incorporate additional ducts to optimize airflow, and even the 19-inch wheels are aerodynamically optimized with a flatter design than regular alloys. Those wheels are wrapped in ultra-low rolling resistance tires measuring 255/55, and feature special tire sidewalls with negative lettering instead of raised, once again reducing drag. We’ll get to see how all of these aero-enhancing features stack up in the production version when the Audi e-tron makes its world debut in Brussels on August 30.