Road tests

New Audi Q6 e-tron prototype review

The Q6 e-tron sits on a new platform jointly developed by Audi and Porsche, and we've been for an early drive ahead of its official arrival


With its new platform, the Q6 e-tron has taken a big step beyond the Q8 e-tron. We’ll give a full verdict after we’ve driven the finished car and tried the new tech, but the Q6 e-tron shows lots of promise.

The next year will be an exciting one for Audi fans. A number of models in the brand’s range are due a replacement, and an overhaul of its model line-up is coming.

One of the first to arrive will be the Q6 e-tron. This all-electric SUV will sit between the Q4 e-tron and the Q8 e-tron, which drops it into an packed segment that includes the BMW iX3, the Lexus RZ and even Tesla’s Model Y. Based on our first test drive in pre-production prototypes of the Q6 in 55 and SQ6 forms (hence the jazzy liveries hiding the cars’ lines), it looks like there will be more than just the draw of the Audi badge to justify choosing the newcomer.

Under the skin, the Q6 e-tron is the first Audi to use the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, an Audi/Porsche joint venture. The car is powered by two motors, designed and built in house, with 395bhp for the 55 and 510bhp in the SQ6.

We expect that these two powertrains will be followed by a less powerful entry-level model, likely called 45. Audi has previously confirmed that the brand’s next RS release will be electric and that’s expected to be the hot RS Q6 e-tron, which will probably have wilder styling and more than 600bhp.

Only one battery size has been confirmed so far: a 100kWh unit that Audi expects will help the 55 to return a circa-370-mile range. Rapid 270kW charging allows for a 10-80 per cent top-up in under 30 minutes.

Pre-production or not, our drive revealed an already very accomplished EV. We sampled the Q6 on the spectacular Faroe Islands, and while most of the roads were smooth and flowing, the ride comfort, and sound suppression in particular, over the worst bumps were very impressive. Our convoy drive didn’t let us test the chassis through the corners much, but at all speeds the Q6 felt much keener to change direction than its big brother, the Q8 e-tron. Audi has said optimising motor acoustics was a top priority, and we struggled to hear the slightest whine from either of them.

Audi also claims class-leading brake feel – a bold statement for such a subjective thing. But even so, we found it hard to disagree; even when recovering the maximum amount of energy, the brake pedal had a firm, natural feel. The Q6 still has a mechanical braking system, but the regen is so strong that it’s only needed for between five and 10 per cent of stops.

Audi has yet to reveal the car’s interior, and our prototypes had covered dashboards to hide what we predict will be an all-new infotainment set-up. What was clear is that the Q6 is simply vast inside. Knee room is more generous than in the fairly spacious Q4 e-tron, and headroom is noticeably better than in either the Q4 or Q8 e-tron.

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We do have one or two criticisms: the steering is too light and short on either precision or feedback, and we struggled to find much difference between the 55 and the SQ6. The latter is quicker and will do 0-62mph in around 4.5 seconds to the 55’s six or so, but the 55 didn’t exactly feel slow anyway. There was also slightly more road noise than we expected from these prototypes’ 21-inch tyres.

While Audi has yet to confirm full specs, we’re led to believe that pricing will be aggressive. The 45 could start from around £55,000, comfortably undercutting the BMW iX3, and the 55 should cost roughly £10,000 more. The SQ6 could be pricey, though, breaching the £80,000 mark, but it will bring with it some exclusivity.

Model: Audi Q6 e-tron 55 quattro
Price: £65,000 (est)
Powertrain: 100kWh battery, 2x e-motors
Power: 395bhp
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: ‘less than six seconds’
Top speed: TBC
Range: 370 miles (est)
Charging: 270kW (10-80% in < 30 mins)
On sale: Early 2024
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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