Audi unveils Q6 e-tron: a new standard for next-gen premium EVs


Audi unveils Q6 e-tron: a new standard for next-gen premium EVs

Today, Audi is unveiling the Q6 e-tron, a next-gen electric vehicle based on the new PPE platform co-developed by Audi and Porsche.

It is going to compete in the highly popular midsize SUV segment, and when it comes to specs and design, I think the German brand has a winner. But pricing is not available yet.

Disclosure: Audi paid for my flights to and from Munich, and my hotel stay so that I could get a “sneak preview” of the Q6 e-tron. The company had no say in our reporting, nor did it ask to.

Last week, Audi brought a bunch of auto journalists and myself to Munich to get briefed on the PPE platform, a new EV platform co-developed by Audi in Porsche, and get a first look at the German brand’s first vehicle built on it: the Q6 etron.

Electrek already checked out the Porsche Macan EV, the other PPE-based vehicle coming to market this year, but we are excited to see Audi’s own take on it.

While several legacy automakers are pulling back on their electrification plans, I made sure to poke around last week and gauge the German company’s own level of commitment to its electrification effort. I was pleased to hear that Audi is still committed to stopping launching new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2027 and going all-electric by 2033.

The launch of the Q6 e-tron makes this much more realistic as it not only comes based on a next-gen EV platform bringing a lot of improvements compared to Audi’s other EV platforms, but it also completes its SUV EV lineup with the Q4 e-tron and Q8 e-tron.

Audi Q6 e-tron’s new PPE platform tech

My main complaint about Audi’s electric vehicles was their efficiency. There were a few reasons for that. The automaker was, and still is to a lesser degree, fairly conservative with a big buffer on its battery packs.

Of course, Audi also makes premium SUVs packed with features, which makes it quite a challenge to achieve a high level of efficiency.

But with the PPE, Audi is benefiting from a much more efficient electric powertrain that helps make the Q6 e-tron much more efficient than previous generations.

At the battery level, PPE includes improvements at every stage, from the cells to the pack:

Audi is now using much more energy-dense CATL NMC cells in a prismatic form factor. It also increased the size of its modules with 15 cells per module and 12 modules per pack.

At the pack level, Audi’s PPE pack is more efficient in design with a new thermal management system.

For the Q6, the battery pack has a total capacity of 100 kWh and a useful capacity of 94.9 kWh:

The European market will get a version with the two middle modules removed for a total capacity of 83 kWh, but like with its other electric SUVs, Audi doesn’t believe that it’s worth bringing vehicles with shorter ranges to market in the US.

At the drive unit level, Audi has also made some major improvements with the PPE platform both on the power and torque density and with efficiency:

This was achieved through a bunch of improvements to advanced cooling and lubrification systems, amongst other things.

With the Q6, Audi is using an asynchronous motor on the front axel and a permanent magnet motor on the rear.

Audi has also improved battery preconditioning,w which now has an even greater impact on charge time:

The automaker already had a great charging curve, but it now says that the new battery pre-conditioning can shave off 18 minutes of charging in cold temperatures.

Speaking of cold temperatures, the Q6 is equipped with a new heat pump integrated with the powertrain thermal management system:

Heat pumps are a great way to minimize the impact of climate control on range. They are generally seen as particularly useful in colder climates, but Audi has shared some interesting data about their impact.

The automaker claims that the new heat pump in the Q6 e-tron can increase the range by 30 km (~19 miles) between -10°C to 20°C (14°F to 68°F):

Beyond all these efficiency and performance improvements, the PPE also brings scalability and cost improvements.

Audi Q6 e-tron Design

The Q6 is a midsize SUV coming to complete the electrification of Audi’s SUV lineup. It sits between the smaller Q4 and bigger Q8, while being the electric counterpart to the popular Q5.

The brand is doing something where the even numbers are electric and odd numbers ICE.

The Audi Q6 e‑tron has a length of 4,771 millimeters (15.6 ft), a width of 1,993 millimeters (6.5 ft) and a height of 1,648 millimeters (5.4 ft) – making it just a smidge bigger than the popular Tesla Model Y.

The vehicle has an extremely long wheelbase with short overhands and a high front-end – giving it an aggressive-looking stance despite some mostly soft lines on the sides.

It has a well-executed fake grille.

From the back, you can see the more classic Audi look:

You have 10 different wheel design options for the Q6 from 19″ to 21″.

The back also features the new second-generation digital Audi OLED lights. There are some really cool things Audi can do with those, but unfortunately, some of the functionalities, specifically everything with motion, won’t be available in the US due to regulations.

You will still be able to configure some static ‘light signatures’, which is pretty cool.

The front trunk or frunk is nothing huge, but it’s big enough to hold a small piece of luggage or your mobile charger.

It holds 64 liters (2.2 cu ft) of storage space.

The trunk is much more spacious at 526 liters (18.5 cu ft) of storage space with the backseat up. If you fold them down, the storage space increases to up to 1,529 liters (53.9 cu ft).

Moving to the interior, you will find a variety of interesting materials. I was particularly impressed by the version that I saw at the sneak preview, which had some cool cloth and mesh materials, but we were unfortunately told that some wouldn’t make it to the North American version of the car.

Nonetheless, the interior is solid with a large back seat that can comfortably seat people much taller than 6 ft.

You have a center console that folds in the middle and two USB C plugs underneath the rear climate controls.

But the cockpit is where the fun is at. The star of the show is a new curve display that actually consists of two screens: an instrument cluster in front of the driver and a touchscreen at the center of the dash:

There’s also an optional passenger display that has a privacy mode limiting the field of view so that the content is not visible to the driver. It enables the passenger to safely play videos on the screen while the car is moving.

As if that’s not enough, there’s also an optional heads-up display for the driver. It’s one of the best I’ve seen so far. It’s bright and covers a very large area that interacts with its environment, like integrating navigation.

Now, all of these screens are powered by new software built on the Android Automotive operating system. It’s smoother, allows easier and more in-depth software updates, and allows better and faster integration of third-party apps.

This should be a big step up in user experience inside the vehicle.

Audi Q6 e-tron Specs

During the sneak preview, we mainly saw the European versions of the Q6 and their specs, but Audi America has released some official specs and estimates.

For example, the North American market is actually getting more powerful motors on the Q6 e-tron.

Here’s what Audi is releasing so far in terms of specs for the US market:

Q6 e-tron quattro
SQ6 e-tron
Horsepower 315 kW (422 hp) nominal- 340 kW (456 hp) launch control 360 kW (483 hp) nominal – 380 kW (510 hp) launch control
0-60 mph Acceleration Est. 5.0 secs. with launch control Est. 4.2 secs. with launch control
Top Speed 210 km/h (130 mph) 230 km/h (143 mph)
Range The standard Q6 60 e-tron quattro achieves over 300 miles of range on the EPA test cycle based on preliminary manufacturer estimates. To be announced later this year.
Charging DC Fast Charging: 270 kW HPC @ 800 volts, capable of 10-80% SOC in 21 mins.AC Charging: 9.6kW (240V/40A) DC Fast Charging: 270 kW HPC @ 800 volts, capable of 10-80% SOC in 21 mins.AC Charging: 9.6kW (240V/40A)
Lighting Due to U.S. regulations, certain lighting functionalities are not available. More information will follow later this year. Due to U.S. regulations, certain lighting functionalities are not available. More information will follow later this year.

When it comes to the range, Audi is only confirming “over 300 miles) on the EPA test cycle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets much more than that as it is getting 625 km (388 miles) on the WLTP standard.

Audi has always had a strong charging curve in its electric vehicles, and the Q6 e-tron with the PPE platform is no exception.

It’s capable of charging at 270 kW on a 800-volt system and 135 kW on bank charging on 400-volt.

But the really impressive thing is how the powertrain is able to keep the high charge rate at a high state of charge. Here’s the full charge curve:

The Q6 e-tron also has a strong 220 kW regenerative braking, and to our enjoyment, Audi is bringing a true one-pedal driving experience to the Q6 e-tron. You can choose between 4 different levels of regen braking with the top one allowing for one-pedal driving and a complete stop.

The electric SUV also comes with adaptive cruise control powered by a front camera, radar, and ultrasonic radars.

Exact pricing and availability have not been released just yet, but it is coming to Europe in the next few months and in North America toward the end of the year.

As for pricing, Audi has limited its communication to “between the Q4 and Q8,” which starts at $50,995 and $73,700, respectively.

No NACS for the Audi Q6 e-tron

This is a real bummer, but it’s not too bad, considering it might be the only real objective downside to this new entry from the German brand. Everything else is either great or subjective.

You also can’t really blame Audi, as it is more of a timing issue than anything. The automaker has announced plans to adopt NACS in North America, but the Q6 is coming a bit too soon for integration, which will come to new vehicles coming in 2025.

Owners are going to have to use an adapter to access the Supercharger network.

On the bright side, the Q6 e-tron has a great charging curve and also two charge ports. The DC-capable driver-side charge port is well located for the Supercharger network, and the passenger charge port is great for street charging.

Electrek’s Take

If you can’t tell yet, I really like this SUV. I only drove it for a few minutes, and it was a nice fully-loaded SQ6 with air suspension, so my driving impressions aren’t worth that much, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Audi is selling about 75,000 Q5 SUVs a year in the US now, and it expects the Q6 to take over that market as it transitions entirely to EVs over the next 10 years.

That’s a big and scary transition for a legacy automaker, but I think the Q6 e-tron should give them confidence going into it. Based on everything I’ve seen so far, it is highly competitive on the higher end of this segment. Emphasis on higher end. This is very much a premium and highly customizable vehicle.

The PPE platform looks like a solid base on which Audi built an interesting design packed with high-tech features, from the lighting to the HUD to the Android-based OS.

Obviously, Model Y comparisons are going to come since it’s now the world’s best-selling vehicle, and it also competes in the midsize SUV segment. During its own sneak preview in Germany last week, Audi itself identified the Model Y as a competitor.

That said, I don’t expect it to compete price-wise, especially in the US, since Audi doesn’t have access to the tax credit as it doesn’t have a US factory. If it does compete with the Model Y, it will mainly shave some demand off the top from customers looking for a more premium experience.

The Q6 e-tron will likely start at closer to ~$60,000, and you will be able to add options probably close to $80,000.

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