In-depth reviews

Audi Q6 e-tron prototype review

We get behind the wheel of Audi’s answer to the BMW iX3 – is this an electric car generational leap?

Audi Q6 e-tron - front

Audi has persisted in the UK electric car market with a quiet confidence; while the e-tron GT coupe certainly made us weak at the knees with its sleek lines, the Q4 e-tron and its larger Q8 e-tron sibling have remained somewhat under the radar, despite the former being one of the best-selling EVs in the UK so far in 2023.

So what’s in the middle of ‘4’ and ‘8’? If the UK education system hasn’t failed you entirely, you’ll know the next model to arrive in Audi’s gradually expanding electric car lineup is the new Q6 e-tron SUV, destined to rival the likes of the BMW iX3, Lexus RZ, Polestar 3 and, of course, the Tesla Model Y.

We’ve already managed to get our hands on a prototype to see whether this all-important model has what it takes to finally create some electric car headlines for Audi – a brand we feel is struggling to differentiate itself in the electric age, despite boasting a strong lineup of models.

Audi Q6 e-tron - rear

First things first, it’s worth mentioning that the Audi Q6 e-tron sits on VW Group’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture that’s also set to underpin the forthcoming electric Porsche Macan. At launch there will be two variants to choose from: the ‘regular’ e-tron 55 and the hot SQ6, producing 395bhp and 510bhp respectively from dual electric motors.

Both cars come fitted with a 100kWh battery that, according to Audi, will return a circa 370-mile range in the Q6 e-tron 55. Cheaper models with smaller batteries and less power, as well as a hot RS Q6 variant are almost certainly in the pipeline. With the Q6 boasting a maximum charging speed of 270kW; find a fast enough 350kW ultra-rapid public charger and Audi says a 10-80% top-up will take just half an hour.

Enough about facts and figures for now, what’s the new Audi Q6 e-tron like when you’re behind the wheel? Well, the first thing we noticed is that it feels much less heavy and lethargic than the lumbering Q8 e-tron, despite the Q6 being a pretty large car itself. Our winding route through the Faroe Islands prevented us from putting pedal to the metal, but it did showcase how quiet the electric motors are on the move – we did think the steering felt incredibly light and over assisted on both the e-tron 55 and SQ6, though. 

The Q4 and Q8 are both incredibly comfortable EVs and the new Q6 doesn’t stray from this trend; while the roads on the tiny Danish islands are much smoother than the pothole-strewn assault courses we call British streets, the electric Audi showcased an impressive level of comfort and refinement. 

The German maker claims ‘best in-class’ brake feel – something that’s a big point of contention for EVs as regenerative braking can sometimes make the middle pedal feel squishy and over assisted. Not so in the Q6 e-tron, however, as there was a perfect amount of feedback and travel in the brake pedal – you won’t be using it much, though, as the one-pedal driving setup is so good.

Audi Q6 e-tron - interior

Unfortunately the interior of the Audi Q6 e-tron was completely covered in camouflage during our time with it. We suspect the layers of covering conceal an all-new infotainment setup, no doubt with a revised version of Audi’s fantastic Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display. We could judge the amount of space on offer, however, which is plentiful; there’s acres of head and legroom in the rear, while the Q6’s boot shouldn’t be too far behind the 605 litres found in its bigger Q8 brother.

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While the Audi e-tron GT is a real head turner, the rest of the maker’s electric lineup is pretty subtle in terms of exterior design – and the same seems to be the case for the new Q6. Trying to look past the wacky camo wrap we could see the mid-size Audi SUV will get a fancy new lighting setup. This utilises 360 individual OLED units arranged into triangular elements that pulse as you travel along. Audi has previously dubbed itself the ‘brand of lighting’ and this fancy setup certainly seems to be the party piece of the new Q6, with drivers able to select one of several light signature presets.

Prices will probably be confirmed shortly after the Audi Q6 e-tron’s official launch, which our sources tell us will take place towards the end of this year. However, given the Q6 will slot between the Q4 and Q8 e-tron models in the Audi EV SUV lineup, a starting price of around £65,000 seems likely – a sleeker Sportback model is sure to follow shortly after launch, demanding a small premium over the regular SUV.

Audi Q6 e-tron - static

Audi Q6 e-tron verdict

We can’t yet give a definite judgement on the new Audi Q6 e-tron, but what we can say is that initial impressions seem to indicate it’ll give the German maker a big boost in this current EV arms race. A strong claimed range figure is certainly appealing, but combine this with a comfortable ride and the promise of next-level tech and rivals like the BMW iX3 may have some serious competition on their hands. The Q6 looks to be a fine addition to Audi e-tron EV lineup and we’re excited to try the production car when it finally arrives early next year.

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