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New Audi Q6 e-tron leaves the Tesla Model Y trailing with 388-mile range

The new all-electric Audi Q6 e-tron SUV has been unveiled alongside the hot SQ6 e-tron

The lid has been lifted on the new Audi Q6 e-tron. As an electric SUV which occupies the same segment as the brand’s global best-seller, the Q5, there’s great expectation being lumped on the all-new electric car.

It’s no surprise then that the full force of Audi’s technical know-how has been thrown at the Q6 e-tron. We had a chance to drive a late prototype back in August last year, but at that point the specs and the interior were largely under wraps. Now we have the full technical specs on hand, and the brand is very confident that the newcomer will not only move the game on significantly from other EVs in its range, but will set the class standards for performance, range, charging and driving dynamics. 

Key to these improvements is the introduction of an all new platform; the PPE architecture is co-developed with Porsche and also underpins the all-new Macan EV. The Q6 e-tron will be the first Audi EV to be produced at its home factory in Ingolstadt.

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From the outside, Audi has been fairly conservative with the Q6 e-tron. The exterior takes inspiration from the e-tron GT around its curved and blistered wheel arches, while the dark inserts on the lower parts of the doors are a nod to the flagship Q8 e-tron. At 4,771mm long, it’s 108mm longer than the current Q5.

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Look closer, however, and the Q6 e-tron’s intrigue comes in its details. The LED lights at the front are split in two; the lower section deals with dipped and high beam, while each upper unit features customisable daytime running graphics thanks to the 61 individual segments. The lights sit beside an inverted version of Audi’s ‘Singleframe’ grille. Here, it’s fared in and painted in body colour, with much of the surrounding area in black.

At the back, the Q6 e-tron lights get OLED tech. Three individual panels within each tail-light house another 60 individual segments, which can operate like pixels to provide a range of different lighting graphics, and even inform other road users of an impending hazard or if the car enters its semi-autonomous driving mode.

Inside, the cabin features a completely different layout in order to house a brand-new operating system for the infotainment and instrument panel. Ahead of the driver sits an 11.9-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, which blends seamlessly into a 14.5-inch MMI Touch Display within a gently curving panel

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The Android-based operating system houses most of the controls on that screen; while we always prefer physical controls for the climate control, Audi counters with the fact that in this instance, voice commands are the most important means for changing settings. Up to 800 functions can be controlled by a range of 100 interactions through the ‘Hey Audi’ voice assistant, which can learn the voice commands from both the driver and the front passenger and even proactively make suggestions based on the previous habits. The passenger also gets a 10.9-inch tertiary screen, which allows them to change settings themselves.

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We also had a chance to sit in the second row, and the Q6 e-tron looks set to become a class-leader for interior space, with both head and knee room offered in abundance. The 526-litre boot is generous, and backed up by a roomy 64-litre storage area under the bonnet.

Two models will be offered at launch. The Q6 quattro and the SQ6 both feature a twin-motor layout and a 100kWh (94.9kWh net) battery whose 580kg mass forms part of the car’s floor. 

PPE can house one of three front motors and two rear motors, and whichever is fitted, Audi claims that the oil-cooled units are not just the quietest of any EV, but also the most efficient. The Q6 produces a combined 382bhp, while the SQ6’s peak output is 510bhp – enough for 0-62mph times of 5.9 and 4.3 seconds respectively.

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Later in the Q6 e-tron’s life, a pair of rear-wheel drive models will join the range. The standard model will use a smaller 83kWh battery, while the other, called Performance, will have the 100kWh unit for an even longer range than the all-wheel drive launch model. We’ve also spotted a hot RS Q6 testing, and it’s expected to produce over 600bhp. 

Charging should be suitably rapid, thanks to 800-volt architecture capable of a peak charge speed of 270kW – enough for a 10-80 per cent top up in just 21 minutes. Based on Audi’s official data, a charge of at least 250kW will be possible between 10-35 per cent, and even though all EV’s charge speeds tail off as they reach their maximum level, the Q6 will still be capable of 100kW at 80 per cent. An on-board 11kW AC charger will be offered from launch, with a quicker 22kW system coming later. Like the e-tron GT, the Q6 e-tron features two AC charge ports – one on each side – to make home charging easier.

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A multi-source heat pump draws air not only from the outside environment but also captures waste heat from the powertrain. This level of thermal management, Audi says, has a range of benefits; the more efficient cooling and heating of the cabin, and the ability to maintain a battery temperature closer to the optimum level at all times means that it improves range by roughly 20 miles between -10 and +20 degrees centigrade, and also ensures the claimed charging speeds and 0-62mph times can be repeatedly achieved.

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In addition to this, the Q6 e-tron will boast some of the strongest brake regeneration tech seen on any EV so far. The motors can recover up to 220kW of energy when slowing down, which can be split between either axle depending on the brake force required and prevailing road conditions. It’s enough, says Audi, that roughly 95 per cent of stops can be covered without using the mechanical braking system at all. 

As we found in our prototype drive, the system not only recovers energy well, but feels very natural and reassuring through the left pedal. The regen settings can be adjusted through three levels of strength via the steering wheel mounted paddles, while a stronger ‘B’ mode is chosen via the drive selector.

This all means that the Q6 quattro will return a range of up to 388 miles based on WLTP data – 57 miles more than a Tesla Model Y Long Range. The SQ6 will offer only slightly less – a result of its wider wheels and tyres rather than a side effect of its higher power output. 

Pricing for the Q6 e-tron is set to start from £68,975, with the S model coming in at £92,950. When the single motor 83kWh model eventually joins the lineup, it will start from roughly £55,000. Following the formula of other Audi SUVs, a sleeker Sportback model will also follow at a later date – expect a £3,000 or so premium over the regular model.

Click here for our list of the longest range electric cars...

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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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