The prototype is fresh from an electrified Cannonball run across Germany.
It's been a while since we've heard anything about a new e-tron Audi. The brand showed off a prototype Sportback in March this year, but it's largely been quiet since. Until now. Audi has just released a full gallery of photos of its latest e-tron model in a special (and very fluorescent) livery that was teased last week.
At first glance, one might mistake this to just be the current e-tron SUV with a few tweaks, but the changes are there, and this is likely the EV that will see the e-tron evolve into the Q8 e-tron. As CarBuzz reported back in March, Audi will rebrand the e-tron as the Q8 e-tron when the facelifted version arrives to help differentiate it from a slew of EVs, all with the e-tron name attached.
Precious little info accompanied the photos, but we can infer some things just based on the nature of the car itself. Obviously, this is a prototype. It says so right on the doors. And the hood. And the fenders. And the rear bumper. In bright orange. While it may look a lot like the current e-tron, it's likely to be an enhanced version beneath the surface, potentially with next-gen motors that represent a substantial leap forward compared to those that first arrived in 2018.
Given the car's entry into the E-Cannonball, as well as the bright red-orange details on the livery, we suspect this is the S, or even possibly an RS version, which could pack a tri-motor setup. Obviously, this is all speculative. We're assuming the more aggressive wheels and fascias are those of a more sporty model, and one more fit for an EV-only rally across Germany.
As for the "when" part of this new Q8 equation, we've had confirmation from Audi that the new Q8 e-tron will debut sometime in 2026. Obviously, that means that what you see here is very, very far from a finished product. The seemingly production-ready bodywork is thus a mere cover for the mechanicals underneath. Still, we can count some things as certainties.
At least in Europe, those side-mounted rearview cameras will certainly make an appearance as they are already available on the current e-tron family and are expected to become a staple of the future. Whether those make it to America will hinge on a lot of existing laws being revised.
Predictably, powertrain details are very up in the air for the time being. We've discussed a potential three-motor S version, which likely means an RS will pack more power at the least. We expect a new and improved powertrain with a range somewhere in the neighborhood of 373 miles, a far cry from the current e-tron's 222-mile figure.
Currently, the e-tron puts out 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque via two motors, with a top speed of 124 mph and a 60-sprint of just 5.5 seconds. The e-tron S has 496 hp and 4.3-second 60-m[ph dash. Obviously, more power is almost certainly on the table. But for now, we'll have to wait for more details.