Audi used the Shanghai Auto Show to offer a first look at what will be the second member of its upcoming all-electric family of vehicles. The Audi e-tron Sportback Concept is a 4-door grand tourer, a “coupe-style” liftback slated for production in 2019. It will follow the 2018 intro of the Audi’s first dedicated EV model—an SUV variant on the original Audi e-tron Quattro Concept first seen two years ago in Frankfurt. The new electrics mix innovative styling cues and potent powertrain that drives all four wheel with loads of advanced tech touches and a 300+ mile per-charge range on the European NEDC cycle. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, deems the Sportback “an important milepost for Audi along the road to electric mobility.”

Like the e-tron Quattro Concept, the Sportback Concept is powered by a 3-motor setup that Audi plans to use in all of its future EV models. Here, a single front-mounted and dual-rear units develop a collective 429 horsepower–which can rise to 496 horses in boost mode–along with 590 lb-ft of torque. That’s sufficient muscle to let the super-green Sportback charge from 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds en route to its electronically limited top speed of 130.5 mph. Energizing the powertrain is a liquid-cooled 95-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that resides below the floor and between the axles to optimize weight distribution. Recharging is via an AC or high-output 150-kW DC system (which gives up to 250 miles in range in about 30 minutes. Audi has also developed a wireless inductive charging capability for the vehicle.

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In keeping with Audi tradition, the Sportback Concept uses a lightweight alloy and high-strength steel chassis. It also features a sport-tuned adaptive air suspension that varies ride height by up to 2.5 inches to reduce drag at speed. Also in the mix is Audi Drive Select which uses a sophisticated Intelligent Drive management system that uses direct driver input and real-time navigation-generated data to optimize performance and range under all driving conditions.

New face for the future

The exterior of the Sportback Concept reflects a bold new take on Audi’s existing design cues. While clear family ties remain in its basic proportions, the EV-influenced cues gain more prominence, especially in the Sportback’s front end. With no real need for a conventional air intake, the latest version of Audi’s single-frame grille takes on a new graphic role and serves as a visual anchor surrounded in black and framed by a Audi’s latest Digital Matrix lighting units well as supplemental elements consisting of hundreds of LEDs that can serve up numerous “animated movements and signatures” depending on driving situations. Appearing in profile like high-riding A7 on steroids, the Sportback Concept matches its sweeping roofline with aggressive body contours and prominently flared fenders that house a clearly show-spec 23-inch wheel/tire package. The well-integrated rear section boasts its own interesting LED lamp signature as well as a functional lower diffuser.

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Inside, the Sportback Concept’s roomy cabin offers excellent space for four and a 19.4 cu-ft cargo bay that can be expanded to 51.2 cu-ft with the rear seatbacks folded. This stylish, well-finished interior shares design influence with the e-tron Quattro Concept, including the latest in Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrumentation. However, it does add one new flourish in the form of an additional dash display in front of the passenger seat. This screen can be programmed to show a number of different things, including navigation data, weather information and outside temperature. Rear seat passengers enjoy a similar level of easy access to infotainment and climate controls thanks to individual touch displays in the door shoulders. To keep things fully connected, the Sportback Concept also features an integrated LTE module.

More Concept Vehicles:

Audi Q8 Concept previews a new SUV

Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept is an electric dream

Nissan Vmotion 2.0 Concept hints at a nex-gen midsize sedan


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