End of the SUV? —
Is it coming to America? “Never say never.”
Today, Audi answered a question that many enthusiasts have been asking for years—when will they be releasing an electric station wagon? The company has a long history of producing lusty “Avant” models, and the brand’s new electric endeavors made such a car seem inevitable. But Audi has been mum on the topic—until now.
Today, Audi unveiled the A6 Avant e-tron. While this vehicle may be called a concept, it strongly hints at the production version due in 2024. Audi designers said the final wagon won’t deviate much from what you see here. And from our perspective, that’s not a bad thing.
“I can promise you that a lot of what you see now will be available on the road,” said Wolf Seebers, who led the car’s exterior design.
Sleek, practical EV
Like other EVs, the A6 Avant e-tron promises to be quick, reaching 60 mph in under 4 seconds thanks to dual motors that produce a combined 350 kW (470 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque. A massive battery of “around 100 kWh” will provide 435 miles (700 km) of range under optimistic WLTP testing in a more efficient single-motor configuration. In real-world use, expect somewhere just north of 300 miles.
So while the car may not break the 400-mile barrier, Audi promises that recharging won’t slow things down. The A6 Avant e-tron rides on the Volkswagen Group’s new PPE platform, which includes 800 volt electrical architecture. Audi is promising 270 kW charging that can replenish about 40 percent of the battery’s charge in about 10 minutes, while a fuller charge—from 5–80 percent—should take under 25 minutes. Based on the impressive charge curve Audi achieved with the current e-tron SUV, a design that’s now nearly 4 years old, we’re inclined to believe those figures.
The A6 Avant e-tron’s design draws heavily from the A6 e-tron concept that Audi debuted last year, with a similar black brushstroke along the sides that helps mask the height of the doors while hinting at the massive battery beneath the passenger compartment.
The differences between the Sportback and Avant are more apparent up top, of course. There, the designers stretched the roof over a pair of bulging rear haunches that echo the original e-tron SUV. The roofline is accented with a thin band of satin aluminum that arcs from the base of the A-pillar to a subtle spoiler at the top of the rear window. The Avant’s long roof isn’t quite as slippery as the Sportback version, but the new concept’s slightly higher 0.24 Cd is still quite good. Below, a rear diffuser accented in the same aluminum echoes the detailing on the hot-rod RS 6 Avant.
Up front, the designers closed off the trademark Audi grill but traced its outline in black trim. In the production version, this is probably where the various sensors that will power its advanced driver-assistance systems will be hidden. When asked by Ars whether they’re planning any autonomous features for the production A6 Avant e-tron, Audi representatives wouldn’t commit, saying only that they’ll have the “current state of the art.”
The car’s thin headlights are matrix LEDs that will likely allow for adaptive beams that can brightly illuminate the road without blinding oncoming traffic. Audi says that owners can customize the daytime running lights to display a design of their choice. Out back, the 3D-effect OLED taillights can also be customized. As for other tech, Audi unfortunately didn’t give us a peek at the interior.
For wagon enthusiasts, recent pickings have been slim. And for electric wagon enthusiasts, the choices are even slimmer. Only one is available today—the gorgeous but expensive Taycan Sport Turismo/Cross Turismo. The new Audi promises to double the field, and that field will stretch further with Volkswagen’s forthcoming ID. Space Vizzion and two Volvos that the automaker recently mentioned in passing.
SUVs and crossovers have largely relegated wagons to a niche market, but product marketer Nikolai Martens said that “electric mobility can help us reverse the SUV trend, which wouldn’t be bad when you look at the climate.”
The Avant’s low profile and slippery shape helps improve the car’s range, he added. “If I have a range-minded customer, and if range is really important for me as a premium, then the Avant is probably the most sensible vehicle compared with an SUV.”
The A6 Avant e-tron is almost certain to hit European roads first, where wagons are in higher demand. Audi wouldn’t commit to bringing it to the US, but “never say never,” Martens said. “The Avant in its basic form is one that we don’t consider to be a car with much volume in the United States. But the higher-position cars, like the RS Avant or the Allroad, they are certainly cars that can work well in the United States.”
Listing image by Audi