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Say Hello To The 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback (And The Coolest Headlights You Can't Have)

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This car is like a laser light show that you can drive!

It's 5:00 a.m. in Los Angeles and Audi has invited us to a secret location to view its latest product, the 2020 e-tron Sportback, ahead of its reveal at the 2019 LA Auto Show. Why 5:00 in the morning? It's the perfect time of day for Audi to show off the e-tron Sportback's party piece, the first Digital Matrix headlights ever fitted to a production vehicle. Audi's new DMD modules use around one million micromirrors, which can tilt around 5,000 times per second. The result is an incredibly precise beam of light that can be used in some clever ways.

We had a chance to receive a live demonstration of these lights prior to the car's reveal on a European-spec car. Of course, US safety regulations still make it impossible for Audi to offer many of these features here, meaning your e-tron Sportback will not have the same awesome features. Audi is pushing for new laws in this area but even if they are enacted, the features seen here will require a change in hardware, not just software.

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The biggest benefit of the Matrix headlights is precision cornering, city, and highway lighting when using low-beams. These lights can also carve out the high-beam lights (as to not blind other users) although US regulations require automakers to default to low-beams. Audi has also introduced two new features called the lane light and orientation light, which create a "carpet of light" to illuminate the lane in front and adjust when the driver changes lanes. This carpet of light also includes darkened areas to help keep the car centered and the light can also expand to shine on pedestrians in the road.

All of these features, sadly, will not be available on the US-spec e-tron Sportback but Audi is allowed to include the clever entry and exit lights, which can display on your driveway or garage door. While these advanced lights are currently not allowed in the US due to regulations, Audi is confident it will make progress on legalizing them. Sadly, those cool camera mirrors will also remain a Europe-only option for now for the same reason.

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As for the e-tron Sportback itself, much of the car's specs remain identical to the standard e-tron. Europe will receive a lesser 50 Quattro drivetrain but the only option in the US will be the 55 Quattro. This drivetrain includes two electric motors (one for each axel) combining to produce 402 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque and resulting in a 0-60 mph time in the mid-five-second range. Audi hasn't quoted any EPA figures for range yet but e-tron Sportback product manager Matt Mostafaei told us the company is targeting "around 220 miles of range." This is an improvement over the standard e-tron's 204-mile range due to the more aerodynamic design of the Sportback.

Audi says the e-tron Sportback has an extremely low drag coefficient of just .25. At the rear, the Sportback looks far more coupe-like than the standard e-tron while offering only 0.8 inches less headroom. Cargo space behind the second row is rated at 21.7 cubic feet (compared to 28.5 in the standard e-tron) while the area opens up to 58.4 cubic feet with the seats folded. There is also a small storage area in the front, which offers 2.1 cubic feet of space.

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Audi has not yet released pricing for the US-spec e-tron Sportback but Mostafaei says it should be in line with the company's traditional Sportback pricing structure, which would be "around $2,500 more" than a standard SUV. The cheapest e-tron starts at $74,800, meaning the Sportback should start at around $77,300. We expect there to be Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels and Audi will also offer an S Line package, which includes 20-inch wheels and sport air suspension.

The cars we rode in were Edition One models, which will be limited edition and will all be painted in Plasma Blue. The Edition One will also include exclusive 21-inch wheels, orange brake calipers, a panoramic glass sunroof, and 'Edition One' puddle light projectors. This trim will also come very highly optioned with contour seats wrapped in exclusive Monaco gray Valcona leather, the S line interior with sport seats, Bang & Olufsen Premium audio, the assist package, and matrix LED headlights. Audi says the e-tron Sportback will arrive in Europe in the spring of 2020 with US deliveries taking place at a later time.

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