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Audi A6 e-tron electric car: BMW i5 rival on the way

Audi has been testing the production version of the upcoming A6 e-tron executive car, ahead of its launch in 2023

The Audi A6 e-tron is gearing up for its production reveal in 2023 by completing the final stages of its gruelling testing regime on the snow and ice of northern Europe. The saloon and Avant estate models will rival the Mercedes EQE and forthcoming BMW i5 when it goes on sale soon.

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We first caught the pure-electric A6 testing in the summer on the roads around the Nurburgring in Germany. Despite its camouflaged paintwork, we could make out the car’s new split-headlight design and rakish, five-door coupe body shape. 

The new images now also show the production-ready tail-lights – an all-LED setup not dissimilar to those found on the current petrol and diesel A6. The prototype’s disguise may hide a full-width lightbar, though we’ll need to wait a little longer to know for sure.

It’s not yet clear what battery and motor combination the production car will use. Previous suggestions detailed a 100kWh pack, but with technology and battery chemistry improving at such a rate, there’s a chance the A6 will be offered with the new Audi Q8 e-tron’s 114kWh unit. The A6 range-topper may also boast a triple-motor layout similar to that found in the brand’s flagship SQ8 – albeit on a different platform. 

Audi A6 e-tron concept 

Audi previously unveiled a concept version of the A6 e-tron at the 2021 Auto Shanghai motor show (pictured below). This marked the debut of the 'Premium Platform Electric' (PPE) technology that'll underpin a series of fully electric SUV, saloon, estate and 'Sportback' models. Audi's current electric line-up includes the Q4 e-tron and Q8 e-tron models, as well as the flagship e-tron GT and RS GT four-door saloons.

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As with most electric cars, aerodynamics were a major factor in the design process of the A6 e-tron concept, with Audi achieving a drag coefficient of 0.22Cd, just behind the 0.20Cd figure of the Mercedes EQS, which is said to be the most aerodynamic production car in the world.

The A6 concept uses every electric-car design trick in the book to help it achieve that figure – from covering the front grille, to the sweeping roofline and short bootlid. Like the Q8, the A6 e-tron gets cameras as opposed to conventional door mirrors. At the front is a pair of enormous air intakes, used to cool the drivetrain, battery and brakes. The two electric motors in the A6 e-tron concept produce 462bhp and 800Nm of torque in total. 

The headlights on the A6 e-tron concept also stand out. They're fitted with a projector, so when charging, the driver and passengers can play video games projected onto a wall, instead of sharing a screen inside. We don’t know if this feature will reach production, but judging by the spy pictures, it looks like the split design will be carried over almost unchanged.

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The long wheelbase and short overhangs on the A6 e-tron concept serve to maximise interior space and legroom – Audi points to this as one of many benefits of the PPE platform. The prototype we’ve since seen testing looks to have longer front and rear overhangs, though the slightly taller roofline would suggest interior space remains a priority.

Audi Premium Platform Electric (PPE)

The 'Premium Platform Electric' is Audi’s mechanical platform to underpin a variety of pure-electric vehicles, from high-riding SUVs to lower cars like saloons, estates and 'Sportback' hatchbacks. The technology has been jointly developed with fellow VW Group brand Porsche.

This platform is designed to underpin primarily more expensive cars from premium brands, as opposed to the VW Group's MEB platform, which sits under hatchbacks like the Volkswagen ID.3 and Cupra Born, as well as the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq iV family SUVs.

Both the battery size and wheelbase are scalable for different models, so the platform will be able to accommodate multiple powertrains and battery sizes. Audi has hinted at models with up to 435 miles of range, as well as 0-62mph in under four seconds. Entry-level motors are predicted to take closer to seven seconds to go from 0-62mph.

Audi’s PPE platform also features 800-volt charging architecture, as seen in the e-tron GT, and Porsche Taycan. This will allow upcoming models to charge at up to 270kW. At that speed, they should add 180 miles of range in 10 minutes, or go from 5-80% in under 25 minutes.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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