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New Audi A6 e-tron: details, specs, S6 and RS 6 performance models

The all-electric A6 e-tron looks set to upgrade on the old A6 in all the key areas with S6 and RS 6 models also prepping for launch

We’ve seen the new Audi A6 e-tron testing in both saloon and load-lugging Avant estate form. Now the performance versions are also out in the open with the Audi S6 and range-topping RS 6 being spotted on the road.

Audi did preview the A6 e-tron back in 2021 with a concept at the Shanghai Motor Show, but while that car showcased what the regular all-electric executive saloon would look like, this is our first chance to check out the sportier variants.

An estate car version called the Audi A6 Avant e-tron will follow shortly after to take on the BMW i5 Touring. The A6 e-tron uses the brand new PPE platform that will also underpin the forthcoming Audi Q6 e-tron SUV, and sits underneath the newly launched all-electric Porsche Macan.

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We expect the A6 e-tron to feature the same powertrain options as the Q6 e-tron, which includes dual motors for all-wheel drive and a 100kWh battery for big range figures. The latter should be in the region of 400 miles from a single charge.

What will the Audi A6 e-tron look like?

The production version will retain plenty of the 2021 concept’s stylistic elements, but also mimic the design of Audi’s internal-combustion engined saloons. Our exclusive image combines details from the 2021 concept and those we can make out in the spy shots we’ve received of A6 e-tron prototypes testing.

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The front will feature a split headlight design, much like the Q6 e-tron, and a blanked-off grille panel in Audi’s trademark trapezoidal shape. On the concept this allowed an impressively low drag coefficient of just 0.22Cd and we would expect something similarly slippery from the production car.

Compared to the conventional saloon shape of the BMW i5, the A6 e-tron takes on a more coupe-inspired Sportback form with a sloping roofline and a fastback rear hatch. There’s also a crease low down on the A6 e-tron’s side – a prominent design element which is carried over from the concept.

At the back, the A6 e-tron is sure to feature a full-width light bar, while the prototypes we’ve spotted also have a large diffuser, similar in shape to the concept’s, though a little less aggressive-looking.

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The S6 we’ve spotted gets a bespoke matrix LED headlight signature in the upper cluster - akin to the chequered flag motif of the RS 3 hot hatch. We expect to see other subtle tweaks over the standard A6 with a revised blanked-out grille insert, a more prominent faux rear diffuser, a small lip spoiler on the bootlid and silver-colour wing mirror caps - a typical design attribute of hot Audis. Uprated brake calipers are painted red and there are larger alloy wheels on show too.

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As the range-topper within the A6 lineup, the Audi RS 6 has always been easily identifiable by performance-focused exterior tweaks. That’s no different with the new all-electric model and here we can see a wider body with more aggressive haunches to house larger wheels and tyres. That’s not all because the Audi RS 6 get’s its own headlight signature and a bespoke front bumper with larger air intakes and a new lower lip on the front spoiler. There’s also an air vent behind the front wheel like the one featured on the RS 6 Avant GT and to the rear we’ll see a more serious diffuser and bootlid spoiler combination.

What are the rivals to the Audi A6 e-tron?

The long-standing rivalry between Audi, BMW and Mercedes for executive saloon dominance will continue for many years to come. We’ve had the Mercedes EQE for a few years already, the BMW i5 has just launched and joining them will be the A6 e-tron this summer. It’s worth noting there’s the Volkswagen ID.7 and ever-present Tesla Model S, plus we should see fresh competition from Volvo with it’s all-new ES90 and China with the IM L6 saloon. 

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The Audi A6’s trump car will be the more practical A6 e-tron Avant. The BMW i5 Touring will be its closest rival, but there’s no word from Mercedes on an all-electric estate.

What range and performance should the A6 e-tron offer?

Audi said the A6 e-tron concept had a range of “more than 700km” – or in excess of 434 miles. It’s unlikely the production car will achieve the same feat, but a range of over 400 miles isn’t out of the question.

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The Q6 e-tron SUV that uses the same platform as the A6 e-tron uses a 100kWh battery to offer an estimated range of around 370 miles. We predict the same battery fitted into the lower, much sleeker A6 e-tron could return over 400 miles from a single charge.

Audi previously said that “the most powerful members of the [A6 e-tron] family will sprint from 0-62mph in less than four seconds,” while the instant torque of an electric motor means that “even entry-level models designed for efficiency will accelerate to 62mph in less than seven seconds”.

The entry-level rear-drive A6 e-tron will sit under the dual-motor, quattro all-wheel drive models. The Audi S6 e-tron should rival the 593bhp BMW i5 M60, but the even faster range-topping RS 6 e-tron version may outgun the current 621bhp RS 6 Avant.

What else do we know about the PPE platform?

The PPE platform was co-developed with Porsche and can be used for a multitude of cars, from saloon and estate cars to high-riding SUVs. The architecture’s clever packaging allows for a flat floor, which means a lower roofline is possible without compromising space inside, and the A6 e-tron is a strong example of this concept, according to Audi.

The PPE platform also allows for wheels to be pushed to the extremes of a car’s bodywork to maximise packaging, meaning the A6 e-tron should be more spacious and practical than any previous A6. Meanwhile, the platform’s specially optimised five-link front suspension set-up and multi-link axle at the rear are both controlled by adaptive air suspension.

The PPE platform has been designed with 800-volt electrical architecture, which enables the 270kW maximum charging speed of the Q6 e-tron. At that rate, a 10 to 80 per cent top-up of even the Q6 e-tron’s enormous battery takes under 30 minutes.

What will happen to the current Audi A6 then?

The current Audi A6 is getting a big long in the tooth, but a replacement for the ageing saloon and Avant estate is due to arrive in 2025. However, it will not be called the Audi A6. Instead, the new model will adopt the Audi A7 moniker, because the names of Audi’s models will be even numbered if the car is electric, or odd numbered if there’s a combustion engine under the bonnet.

Now find out more about the electric cars with the longest range...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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