The Audi RS 6 Avant is arguably the ultimate performance wagon in the market and has worn that crown for years. A model that could raise the bar for Audi is the A6 Avant e-tron.
Rendering specialist Sugarchow (Instagram user sugardesign_1) has created an illustration of an uber-cool Audi A6 Avant e-tron. Even without RS parts, it looks athletic, and at the same time, quite poised. The understated elegance of the donor, the A6 e-tron concept, has been playfully merged with the more practical D-pillar of an Avant and the end result is surprisingly more alluring.
As per Autocar, Johannes Arneth has “strongly hinted” that the A6 e-tron will have an estate version. Arneth is the Technical Project Manager of the A6 e-tron. The estate version could be called the A6 Avant e-tron and lead to a radical zero-emission RS 6 Avant e-tron.
Audi A6 e-tron: What to expect
Audi is presenting its e-tron concepts quite close to production. The A6 e-tron concept that debuted as Audi’s proposed challenger to the Tesla Model S and Mercedes EQE at Auto Shanghai 2021 in April is no different.
An Autocar report citing Sascha Heyde, Senior Exterior Designer, says approximately 95% of the e-tron concept’s design features would appear on the production electric sedan. Heyde calls the e-tron concept the “next evolutionary step” in Audi’s design philosophy. While designing, the company focused on the car’s length and width, not height, which allowed a long wheelbase with plenty of space for the battery pack.
Our exclusive rendering (above) shows what the design of the commercialized version would look like. Our Audi A6 electric sedan does away with the logo backlighting at the front, but it has shinier Singleframe inserts, and slightly bigger headlights, for improved visibility and enhanced styling. A powerfully contoured, curved blade under the closed-off upper grille (Singleframe) and matching vertical blades on the sides of the air inlets further enhance the styling.
We haven’t kept the ‘e-tron’ inscription on the lower grille in the final design, seeing how other pure electric Audi e-tron models have transitioned to production. The 21-inch 10-spoke trapezoidal-module, dual-tone wheels may seem like a downgrade from the concept’s 22-inch rims, but they should lead to better handling and reduced noise. We have retained the virtual mirror technology. The concept’s impressive drag coefficient value of 0.22 Cd should apply to even the road-ready car, helped by the digital mirrors. The door handles, antenna and front sensors complete the journey to production.
Android Automotive infotainment system
Volkswagen Group has confirmed a new Android Automotive OS-based infotainment system for the Audi Q6 e-tron. We don’t see a reason why the sedan (and maybe even the estate derivate) wouldn’t feature the same.
CARIAD, Volkswagen Group’s automotive software company, will develop a new premium software platform 1.2 (E³ 1.2) for Audi and Porsche models. It plans to use the Android Automotive operating system’s AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version, which means that Google Services won’t come factory-installed in the infotainment systems. Moreover, these infotainment systems would have a third-party app store instead of Google’s Play Store.
In 2023, CARIAD will release the premium software stack 1.2 with launches of the electric Porsche Macan and the Audi Q6 e-tron. It will bring a completely new experience to Audi and Porsche vehicles. This platform will feature a new unified infotainment platform based on Android Automotive.
Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD (Volkswagen Group New Auto)
The Audi e-tron will sit on the new PPE platform, which is quite similar to the MEB platform but with specific changes that make it suitable for the larger, upper-class models.
PPE platform models will have a single motor at the rear as standard. As an option, customers will be able to specify them with a second motor at the front (PSM or ASM depending on the model) for performance and all-wheel drive capability. The Audi RS 6 Avant e-tron (Audi RS 6 e-tron) could sport two motors generating around 440 kW (475 kW in boost mode) and 830 Nm. Expect it to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just over three seconds.
The PPE platform models will have shorter dimensions and overhangs compared to the MLB models and still offer greater interior length. The wheelbase should be significantly longer than the Audi A6 L, which is 3,024 mm. It won’t surprise us if Audi pushes the axles far apart to the furthest technically possible distance – 3,080 mm. Plus there’ll be no transmission or centre tunnels obstructing the legroom. Air suspension and rear-axle steering will be available to make the drive comfortable, safe, and dynamic.
The PPE platform allows Audi to use battery packs with a gross energy content of up to 100 kWh. The A6 e-tron concept has a 100 kWh (gross) battery pack, and expect the top-end production A6 e-tron to come with the same unit. The company is targeting a maximum range (WLTP) of more than 700 km (435 miles). The low-end configurations will likely have a smaller battery pack that provides a range (WLTP) of over 550 km (342 miles).
The operating voltage will be double the EV norm – 800 volts. This will allow rapid charging at up to 270 kW. In the concept version, charging up from 5 to 80% at 270 kW takes less than 25 minutes. Just ten minutes of charging gives a range of more than 300 km (186 miles).
Audi plans to launch the A6 e-tron after the Q6 e-tron, and it may conduct the European launch in 2023. The RS 6 e-tron or RS 6 Avant e-tron could debut the same year, the same way the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT twins debuted together this year. In China, the Audi-FAW New Energy Joint Venture will manufacture the A6 e-tron in Changchun for domestic sales from 2024.
An Audi spokesperson has informed CNET’s Roadshow that the production A6 e-tron will likely debut in 2022 and enter production in 2023. Audi’s press announcements so far have only confirmed that the first Audi PPE platform models will debut successively in the second half of 2022. Below is what one of the key pointers of the A6 e-tron concept announcement in April 2021 read:
Beginning in late 2022, the first production cars in the C- and later also B-segment will be relaunched with PPE technology, including – a first in the market for electric vehicles – both SUVs with a high ground clearance and dynamically styled models with a lower ride height, such as the upcoming Audi A6 e-tron.
Audi announcing the A6 e-tron concept
A press release on the Audi China website considers the A6 e-tron concept as a C-class (C-segment) model, which strengthens our speculation that the statement refers to the production A6 e-tron. The two SUVs on the PPE platform would be the Audi Q6 e-tron and the Porsche Macan EV.
With the A6 e-tron still two-three years away from launch, Audi is trying to generate new interest in the car in the meantime by showcasing the concept around the world. Unveiling it in Shanghai in April 2021, the company then brought the concept car to Europe, exhibiting the electric sedan in the Audi City Lab showroom at the Milan Design Week (5-10 September 2021).
‘Engined’ Audi A6 to continue for another generation
Audi’s main markets like Western European countries, the USA, Canada, and China look ready for a complete shift to pure electric powertrains in luxury vehicles by 2030. However, Audi has other important markets that significantly contribute to sales but don’t possess the same spirit for decarbonisation.
Petrostates like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others continue showing great potential for ICE models for longer than the markets mentioned above. The same goes for countries with insufficient EV charging infrastructure or low purchasing power, which decelerate the shift to EVs. A report from auto motor und sport says that for regions that are behind the curve, Audi may continue the internal combustion engine A6 till 2032. The company may see launching the next-gen A6 in pure electric and MHEV/PHEV variants on two separate platforms as a viable solution.
Volkswagen Group’s PPE platform would deliver 7 million electric vehicles by 2030, and a sizable chunk of those sales may come from high-volume models like the pure electric Audi A6 and Q6.
Audi A6 e-tron FAQs
What is the Audi A6 e-tron release date?
Audi A6 e-tron debuts in 2023. It will be sold in China and Europe.
Which models will be the Audi A6 e-tron rivals?
The BMW i5, Mercedes EQE and the Nio ET5 are the upcoming challengers to the Audi EV.
What will be the Audi A6 e-tron price?
The Audi A6 e-tron prices could start around EUR 50,000.