Audi has whipped the covers from the second member of its e-tron battery-electric family, which is unsurprisingly a coupe-style crossover SUV called the Sportback.
Given it's been revealed a few days after Ford's hyped new Mustang Mach-E – a conceptually similar offering if ever there was one – it's hard not to draw parallels.
The Audi e-tron Sportback has the same maximum dimensions as the 'regular' e-tron, though a rakish profile derived from the sloping roof lends it a sportier look. It also lowers the coefficient of drag to 0.25, adding about 10km of extra driving range.
Two versions will be offered, called Sportback 50 quattro and Sportback 55 quattro.
The Sportback 50 quattro gets a 71kWh battery pack giving a claimed WLTP driving range up to 347km. The 230kW/540Nm motor enables a claimed 0-100km/h dash in 6.8 seconds. Its onboard charging capacity is 120kW.
The flagship Sportback 55 quattro is more impressive, with a two-level 95kWh battery array in the floor running at 396V, meaning 150kW onboard charging capacity, and the ability the charge to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes. The maximum driving range is a claimed 446km.
Audi will also sell you various home-charging options, from one that runs off a 230-volt domestic power socket to a 400V three-phase outlet outputting up to 11kW.
The '55' version is more powerful, as each axle has its own asynchronous motor fed with three-phase current, meaning rear-biased (the front motor decouples), continuously-variable electric AWD. Two-stage planetary gearboxes with one gear range transfer torque from motors to axles.
Maximum outputs are 300kW/664Nm in sports mode or 265kW/561Nm in un-boosted regular mode. The 55’s claimed 0-100km/h time is cut to 5.7 seconds in the sportiest setting, despite the larger battery pack’s extra 120kg of weight over the 50.
There are three stages of energy recuperation. When braking hard from 100 km/h, the Sportback can apparently recuperate a maximum of 300Nm and 220kW – more than any other production model.
Overall, the car is claimed to attain up to 30 per cent of its range through such recuperation.
Depending on the driving situation, the control system decides individually for each axle whether the Sportback recuperates using just the electric motors, just the wheel brakes, or a combination of both. Either way, Audi insists brake forces remain constant.
The thermal management system comprises four separate circuits. "This enables rapid DC charging, a long battery life cycle, and reproducible performance even under heavy loads,” Audi claims.
The standard heat pump harnesses waste heat from the high-voltage battery and can use up to 3kW of power losses for heating and air conditioning the interior. Depending on the outside temperature, that can boost the Audi e-tron Sportback’s range by up to a claimed 10 per cent.
The onboard power supply also enables seven driving modes with adaptive air suspension, that can alter the ride height by 76mm between highest and lowest settings.
We also need to mention the optional digital matrix LED headlights, “a worldwide first in a production vehicle”. They’re broken down into minute pixels, with light that can “illuminate the road in high resolution”.
There’s a small chip containing one million micromirrors which, with the help of electrostatic fields, can each be tilted up to 5000 times per second.
Depending on the setting, the LED light is either directed via the lenses onto the road or is absorbed in order to mask out areas of the light beam, directed away from other drivers.
The driver-assist features run from data received from five radar sensors, five cameras, and twelve ultrasonic sensors.
To the cabin. Audi claims rear-seat headroom is only 20mm lower than the regular e-tron, and spruiks the level rear footwell, and large 615L boot including a 60L frunk.
The fascia comprises a 12.1-inch upper touchscreen controlling infotainment, while the lower 8.6-inch screen operates climate controls. The 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instruments are standard, and a head-up display is optional.
The regular e-tron launches during the course of 2020 – later than expected – with the Sportback version to arrive in "the second half" of next year to join it.
Speaking of Audi, 2020 will also see the arrival of the new A6 Allroad, Q3 Sportback, RS4 Avant, RS6 Avant, RS7 Sportback, RSQ3, RSQ3 Sportback, S6 sedan, S7 Sportback, and SQ8.