The Audi e-tron Sportback debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show, offering a sporty take on the electric SUV. It joins the e-tron SUV, which arrived for the 2019 model year, but it has a more sloped roofline and several new technologies.
While it has the same powertrain, the e-tron Sportback comes in with a slightly increased range. Credit goes partly to powertrain enhancements. But is largely due to its sloped roofline, which improves aerodynamics at the tradeoff of slightly reduced interior volume.
POWERTRAIN AND RANGE
The e-tron Sportback powertrain features an electric motor with 184 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque at the front axle and a second electric motor with 224 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque at the rear axle. This provides all-wheel drive and gives the e-tron Sportback a maximum output of 402 horsepower.
Improvements to this powertrain over the existing e-tron include the ability to decouple the front motor when not in use. This reduces drag and helps improve overall range. While Audi did not provide EPA range estimates, the Audi e-tron Sportback is rated at 446 km or 277 miles of range using the European standard. That’s an increase of roughly 22 miles per charge.
Side view mirrors produce considerable drag. Audi takes care of that problem by eliminating traditional side view mirrors altogether and replacing them with optional virtual mirrors.
These feature wing-shaped supports with small, integrated cameras on the outside of the vehicle. Rather than looking to a bulky exterior mirror, the driver need only glance at a display located inside the vehicle right between the instrument cluster and the door.
DIGITAL MATRIX LED HEADLIGHTS
Optional in Europe but not available yet in the United States due to current laws are Digital Matrix LED headlights. According to Audi, these provide “high resolution” illumination. The system works with the help of a small chip with one million micromirrors, each of which can be individually tilted up to 5,000 times per second.
The light can be directed at the road ahead or absorbed to avoid blinding drivers in oncoming cars. These unique lights can also project images either onto a wall or the ground ahead of the vehicle.
First deliveries of the Audi e-tron Sportback are expected for the European market in the spring of 2020 with a starting price of roughly $79,000. Expect a U.S. launch later next year with pricing to be announced.