Audi's forthcoming onslaught of electric cars isn't limited to new vehicle lines. While we've seen plenty of new-ground metal like the Q4 E-Tron, the O.G. E-Tron SUV and the E-Tron GT, Audi's making sure to not completely ditch its history as it looks to the future of electrification, and the A6 E-Tron concept does a great job bridging the gap.
Audi on Sunday unveiled the A6 E-Tron concept as part of its display at the Auto Shanghai 2021 motor show. It arrives ahead of C- and B-segment electric vehicles that will utilize Volkswagen Group's PPE scalable EV platform, which Audi says will happen in late 2022. In addition to more crossovers, as they're quite the hot ticket at the moment, the automaker promises it will deliver "dynamically styled models with a lower ride height," according to the concept's press release. Despite its hatchback shape, Audi stuck with the A6 name to help connect it to past models, as the A7 name doesn't really carry the same weight.
Audi A6 E-Tron concept has LED projectors all aroundSee all photos
What you see here is just an exterior design study, which means there's no interior and it doesn't immediately precede a specific production electric vehicle. But man, the A6 E-Tron concept is a serious looker -- and an efficient one, too, with a 0.22 drag coefficient, thanks in part to small cameras that replace the side mirrors. Up front is a "grille" that's pretty close to what we're seeing on other electric Audi vehicles, but things only get crazier as eyes move rearward. Largely devoid of sharp angles, the front end and its arrow-slit headlights give way to subtle curves that taper off to a wild rear end.
It's clear that slipperiness was top of Audi's mind when it designed the A6 E-Tron concept's rear, as both the upper and lower halves of the body move toward each other, culminating in an interesting back. It's definitely a leap forward in terms of lighting design, with a thin strip of illumination spanning the entire rear and a light-up Audi badge smack in the middle for additional flashiness. Without a tailpipe, there's plenty of room for a massive diffuser underneath, further improving its aerodynamics. Almost surprisingly, the A6 E-Tron concept's 22-inch wheels are pretty appropriately sized for the car, a nice change of pace from many modern concept cars.
There are plenty of clever touches that don't come through in pictures, too. LEDs aren't limited to the headlights and taillights, for example. Each side of the car has three small projectors built in, which can greet passengers with messages or different lighting signatures, and they're also capable of showing warnings to oncoming cyclists if a door is about to open. It doesn't end there: Additional LED projectors are hidden at each corner to create projections for the turn signals. Oh, and if that's not enough, the headlights have such a high resolution that they're able to project a freakin' video game onto a nearby flat surface.
Under all this stylistic goodness is Volkswagen Group's PPE scalable electric-vehicle platform, in this instance packing approximately 100 kWh of energy storage between its axles. Its flat construction allows it to be used for both high-riding SUVs and vehicles that better hug the asphalt. Electric motors can power either the rear axle alone or both front and rear, depending on the vehicle. In the A6 E-Tron concept, Audi claims its twin electric motors can generate about 469 horsepower and roughly 590 pound-feet of torque, with an estimated range of about 435 miles. Don't forget, though, this is a concept car, so consider these numbers as markers that point to Audi's hopes for future production EVs.
Since the A6 E-Tron is firmly a design study without an interior, there's not much more to talk about for the time being, but that doesn't mean Audi doesn't have more tricks up its sleeve. In the second half of 2022, Audi will pull back the veil on its PPE-based production models.