Audi is furthering it model transitioning to electric with the iminent launch (in the UK) of the new e-tron Sportback.
With its coupé-inspired roofline and performance-oriented specification the new five-door Sportback will make its UK debut as a 55 quattro with a 95 kWh battery, peak electrical output of 300 kW and range capability of up to 385 kilometres, but a new lead-in 50 quattro version with capacity and output slightly reduced to 71 kWh and 230 kW is also on the cards.
As befits an e-tron that looks more inclined towards uptempo travel the new Sportback combines its coupé-derived references with a more performance-oriented specification structure that begins at S line level. As elsewhere in the Audi range, S line specification lends a more dynamic air through exclusive front and rear styling treatments, privacy glass and larger alloy wheels – in this case with a 21-inch diameter.
Matrix LED headlamps with front and rear dynamic indicators are standard, as is sport suspension based on the adaptive air set-up that is standard for all e-tron models. Inside, electrically adjustable and S-embossed front sport seats are upholstered in supple Valcona leather, and leather-effect Twin leather extends their indulgently soft feel to the upper section of the dashboard, the door armrests and the lower portion of the centre console.
With a wheelbase of 2 928 millimetres, the Audi e-tron Sportback has space for five occupants and when passengers are occupying the rear seats a total of 615 litres of luggage space is available if the 60-litre stowage compartment under the bonnet is also factored into the equation. When the rear seats are vacant and the backrests are folded, luggage capacity increases to 1 665 litres.
It features the Audi Virtual Cockpit, the touch-screen MMI Touch system with its dual monitors, wireless smartphone integration via the Audi Smartphone Interface and Audi Phone Box wireless handset charging.
On the rung above the S line model in the e-tron Sportback specification structure sits the Launch Edition, identifiable by way of its black styling applications for the Singleframe, window trim strips and front and rear bumpers, by its exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels from Audi Sport and by its unusually slim virtual door mirrors housing cameras that project images of the e-tron’s surroundings onto OLED displays in the cabin.
A full-length panoramic sunroof sheds considerably more light on the interior, which also benefits from upgrades such as powered steering wheel adjustment and the more sophisticated virtual cockpit plus with additional ‘e-tron’ and ‘sport’ screens providing even more comprehensive driver information.
In most driving situations, the Audi e-tron Sportback relies exclusively on its rear electric motor in the interest of efficiency, but on occasions when driver demand exceeds its ability to supply the front unit is instantly and seamlessly activated. This also happens predictively when traction breaks in poor conditions or when sensors detect understeer or oversteer during more committed driving. The system’s continual regulation of torque distribution between both axles and its ability to act within fractions of a second replicates the familiar benefits of quattro all-wheel-drive for the age of electrification.
Weight distribution of almost 50:50 between the axles thanks to the low and centralised installation of the heaviest drive components creates ideal operating conditions for the standard five-link suspension with air springs and controlled dampers.
Its sport settings are evident as the e-tron Sportback has the ability to vary ride height by up to 76 millimetres meaning the SUV Coupé can sit low to favour the centre of gravity and noticeably improve airflow for the best possible range potential, but can also adjust its trim for optimal cruising comforty. During deceleration actions of up to 0,3 g, in other words around 90% of everyday driving situations, the high-voltage battery is charged by the electric motors, which act as generators in these situations.
When braking from 100 km/h, the Audi e-tron Sportback can recuperate a maximum of 300 Nm and 220 kW, which amounts to more than 70% of its output. Overall, the Sportback attains up to 30 percent of its range through recuperation.