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Audi Q4 E-Tron Sportback Concept previews a more aerodynamic small electric SUV

Audi sticks to its Sportback formula, following up the Q4 E-Tron concept with a windswept version of its upcoming EV SUV.

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- 04:22
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The name is longer, but the new Q4 Sportback is the smallest member yet of Audi's growing E-Tron line of electric cars and SUVs.

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Audi's E-Tron line of electric cars and SUVs grows by one with the reveal of its Q4 E-Tron Sportback on Tuesday. Based on the Q4 E-Tron SUV that debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show -- perhaps the last Geneva show ever? -- the Sportback model differentiates itself with a windswept A7-style roofline and rear end. This is basically the same formula that Audi followed with the larger E-Tron SUV and its Sportback variant.

The Q4 E-Tron Sportback's front end leads with the automaker's single-frame grille, which is largely closed off due to the EV not actually needing a large air intake. Audi says it's keeping the grille's shape and appearance to maintain its signature visual style and to give the EV a sporty aesthetic.

To either side of the not-a-grille are Audi's new Digital Signature lights, a customizable matrix of LEDs that allow the user to change the SUV's daytime running light signature at the touch of a button. Audi says these lights -- which are different from its HD Matrix LED headlamps -- will be present on the production vehicle, but the company is still "talking to the authorities" regarding whether the tech will be active on US-bound models.

Of course, the Sportback rear end is the defining feature of this Q4. Audi tells us that it wanted to emphasize the organic curves of this variant, in contrast to its traditionally sharply geometric design, with the muscular shoulders and flanks. The Sportback's "coupelike, A7-esque" roofline costs the Q4 a bit of headroom, but the Sportback should make up for it with an aerodynamic boost.

The truncated roof punches a smaller hole in the atmosphere at speed, which should improve range and efficiency. Out back, a large rear diffuser visually raises the Q4's rear end and, along with a wind tunnel-designed spoiler, helps reduce drag. Audi tells us that the Sportback boasts a 0.26 drag coefficient, which is lower (and better) than SUV's 0.28 Cd.

The concept is, according to Audi, basically representative of what the final Q4 E-Tron Sportback's design will look like. Just imagine a set of door handles, maybe a small shark fin antenna and we're mostly there.

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Beneath the design is Audi's (and Volkswagen's) MEB electric platform, which should make the Q4 Sportback a fairly spacious vehicle within its 181-inch overall length. Between the 109.1-inch wheelbase, the low-mounted electric motors and battery and the lack of a driveshaft or transmission intrusions, Audi claims that the A-segment Q4 Sportback will boast interior volume "two vehicle segments above," equivalent to that of a C-segment SUV, like the Q5, even with its slightly lower roof.

Speaking of electric motors, the Sportback will boast two of them -- one per axle -- for a combined all-wheel-driven total of about 300 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. The EV SUV should be able to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in a reasonable 6.3 seconds before topping out at an electronically limited 112 mph.

With its 82-kilowatt-hour battery pack, Audi's estimating the Sportback will roll for about 280 miles between charges -- on the European WLTP test cycle, anyway, which is usually a bit more generous than the US EPA testing regimen. Audi reckons the more slippery aero will give the Sportback an edge over the conventional SUV when the numbers are finally nailed down.

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An LED light band joins the taillamps and unifies the rear-end design.

Audi

Audi also says it will offer a rear-wheel-drive Q4 E-Tron Sportback variant with just one electric motor, a smaller battery and potentially a lower cost. In this lighter configuration, the automaker expects that range will extend to over 500 kilometers, or 310 miles, on WLTP. However, it's unclear if such a model would be available in the US or if Audi will stick with its strategy of only importing the higher trim level like it has with the larger E-Tron SUV.

Inside, the Q4 Sportback will feature the next generation of Audi's Digital Cockpit dashboard tech and a massive, cutting-edge augmented reality head-up display that is so new at this point that the company's spokespeople admitted they haven't actually seen the tech in action with their own eyes. Our interest is definitely piqued.

The Audi Q4 E-Tron Sportback is expected to hit the road in production guise alongside the Q4 SUV in 2021. Pricing is still being determined, but the automaker says it's targeting "below 40,000 euro" for European models, which converts to around $45,000 in the US. This will be another step toward Audi's goal of offering 30 electrified models by 2025 -- 20 of which will be BEVs like the Q4 E-Tron Sportback and the upcoming E-Tron GT sport sedan. By 2025, the automaker hopes that electric and electrified vehicles will make up 40% of all of its sales.