Audi e-tron Sportback

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Editors' First Take

Make no bones about it: Audi's all-electric E-Tron SUV may have received high marks from professional auto reviewers and new owners alike, but it hasn't moved the automaker's sales needle in the US. In all of pre-pandemic 2019, the Audi sold fewer than 5,400 E-Trons here -- less than an average month of Q5 sales. It's amidst this frustrating backdrop that the 2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback model whirs into dealers, its racier slope-back roofline hoping to catch both eyes and sales.

Based on visuals alone, the E-Tron Sportback has undergone the now industry-standard four-door-coupification process more successfully than most luxury crossover SUVs -- EV or not. From the windshield header forward, the Sportback looks the same as its more traditional two-box sibling and indeed, it has nearly the same height. However, owing to its dramatically plunging rearward greenhouse and frameless windows that clean up its roofline, the Sportback looks simultaneously lower and arguably more stylish, adding in a dash of athleticism. The Sportback isn't just slipperier to the eye, it enjoys a 0.28 coefficient of drag, 0.02 better than its boxier relation.

Range and charging specs are only part of the story

On the performance front, the Sportback is all but identical to the standard E-Tron, but a number of incremental improvements across both body styles increase appeal. Among the changes, Audi upped the available battery capacity slightly, increasing the customer-accessible portion of this 95.3-kilowatt-hour pack to 86.5 kWh -- nearly 3 more than first-year E-Tron models. This translates to 218 miles of range and EPA estimates of 76 MPGe city, 78 highway and 77 combined. (The rest of the pack is held in reserve to preserve longevity.)

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