Meet the future of Audi’s large executive sedan: the Audi A6 E-Tron Concept has been revealed at the 2021 Shanghai motor show.
While the show car might feature ‘Concept’ in its name, the Shanghai-bound A6 E-Tron is a 95 per cent production-ready preview of a future all-electric large Audi sedan, confirmed to enter production in 2023 as a companion to the current, combustion-powered A6 launched in 2018.
Underpinning the concept is the dedicated Premium Platform Electric (PPE) platform co-developed between Audi and Porsche, with its production equivalent to launch as the second showroom-bound model to employ the architecture, following the Q6 E-Tron medium to large SUV due in late 2022.
Powering the A6 E-Tron Concept is a pair of electric motors sending 350kW and 800Nm to all four wheels, enabling a sub-four-second sprint from zero to 100km/h.
Energy is stored in a 100kWh (net) lithium-ion battery mounted under the (flat) floor, providing enough juice for over 700km of range according to Europe's WLTP test cycle.
That's over 40 per cent greater than Audi's longest-range electric vehicle (EV) to date, the E-Tron GT sedan – yet the concept's Tesla-rivalling range could be just the start, with Audi executives telling Australian media the PPE platform is capable of extract even more driving range.
They also hinted the eventual production model could score a high-performance RS6 E-Tron flagship, as a result of the PPE chassis' versatility, while the brand has confirmed a series of rear-wheel-drive A6 E-Tron models will also be offered, capable of sprinting from zero to 100km/h in under 7.0 seconds.
Top-ups is handled by an 800-volt electrical architecture enabling 270kW DC fast-charging capabilities – matching the E-Tron GT – with a 10-minute stint on a compatible charger translating to up to an additional 300km of driving range.
A five to 80 per cent charge can be achieved in less than 25 minutes.
The A6 E-Tron Concept measures 4.96m long, 1.96m wide and 1.44m metres high – around 20mm longer and 20mm lower than today's A6, but a substantial 70mm wider.
The significant width difference owes to the concept's streamlined shape, pairing a sloping rear end and sleek glasshouse shared with Audi's five-door Sportback models, with a traditional tailgate and boot opening derived from its sedan range – the combination enabling a 0.22Cd drag coefficient.
Five-link front and multi-link rear suspension features as standard, paired with air suspension on all four corners with adaptive damping.
Up front, a version of the black 'mask' seen on the E-Tron GT houses the closed-off Singleframe grille, flanked by sharp Digital Matrix LED headlights said to be the slimmest ever fitted to an Audi vehicle (though the show car's concept status means it's unclear we'll see them reach production).
The headlights' daytime-running light signatures can be changed and configured to the owner's desires, while the units' three rows of LEDs can project a video game onto a wall when parked (with the occupants using their smartphones as controllers), and display warning symbols onto the ground warning pedestrians or cyclists of opening doors or other hazards.
A pair of camera-based door mirrors debuted on the E-Tron SUV feature along the sides, while Audi engineering executives have identified the lack of door handles as a key design feature that will change for the production model due in two years' time.
Four discreet LED projectors on each corner of the vehicle project the turning indicators onto the ground at low speeds to alert pedestrians, while an additional three projector units along the lower edge of the body serve as dynamic puddle light projection for drivers and passengers approaching the car.
At the rear, an OLED tail-light bar integrated into a black surround spans the width of the liftback tailgate, featuring customisable 3D animations and dynamic indicators. The tail-lights extend into the flared rear wheel arches, while a sporty lower diffuser element features.
While the Sportback-inspired sedan body style will likely appeal to the vast majority of buyers in the production A6 E-Tron's segment, executives confirmed "first sketches" have been created for a potential long-roof Avant wagon model, though whether it reaches production is dependent on "whether the customer requires [or] wants it".
No images have been released of the concept's interior, as the show car is merely an exterior design model. Audi suggests we won't get our first official glimpse at the cabin until close to the production car's reveal in 2023.
The Audi A6 E-Tron Concept will make its public debut at the 2021 Shanghai motor show, which opens to the public later this week.
The production Audi A6 E-Tron will enter production in 2023, with minimal tweaks to the vehicle's stance, door handles, and (likely) lights. The current-generation, combustion-powered A6 will continue to be sold alongside it, with plans for a successor said to be well underway.
It will be the second member of a family of models underpinned by the PPE electric platform, including 2022's Q6 E-Tron SUV, and a series of other mid-size and large sedans and SUVs, sized between the A4 sedan and Q7 large SUV.