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First drive: 2024 Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.

First drive: 2024 Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype
Audi is plugging the gap between the Q4 e-tron and Q8 e-tron, and on the showing of this prototype, the Q6 e-tron is shaping up nicely.

   



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Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype

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It doesn't take a mathematical genius to spot the gap in Audi's electric SUV range. There's a gap between the Q4 e-tron and the Q8 e-tron, and Audi is planning to plug it with this, the predictably named Q6 e-tron. It isn't due in the UK until 2024, but we've had a go in a near-complete prototype to find out whether it's a serious challenger to the Mercedes-Benz EQC and the BMW iX3.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Audi Q6 e-tron 55
Price: From 60,000-70,000 (estimated)
Engine: two electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 100kWh lithium-ion
Power: 400hp (with overboost)
Torque: TBC
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: >370 miles
0-62mph: <6.0 seconds
Top speed: TBC
Boot space: TBC

Styling

Audi is still a little coy about the Q6 e-tron's design, hence the dazzle camouflage wrap adorning our test car. Although it looks white, that's a full-body wrap covering a blue paint job and adding shapes and logos to break up the lines. But there's no hiding the basic shape, which is long and low for an SUV, with short overhangs at each end. The car rides on 20- or 21-inch alloys, depending on the model and customer choice, while the trademark gaping Audi grille is still in evidence, even if it's just a plastic panel across the front of the car.

Perhaps the most remarkable part is the lights, which are OLED matrices at the front and rear, allowing the car to communicate with other road users. If there's an accident up ahead or there are roadworks, the car knows, and it changes the tail lights into little hazard triangles to warn cars behind. And if you get too close to the bumper, the display turns to a solid bank of red, rather than the moving 'standard' set-up. The system will also allow drivers to choose their light signature for every drive, using the touchscreen in the car or the connected app.

Interior

So far, we don't know all that much about the Q6 e-tron's interior, mainly because our test car had a load of insulation tape and fabric over the place where the dashboard would normally be. We do, however, know the new car will have a minimalist dash with the usual Audi build quality and premium materials.

We also know there will be three screens, including the new central touchscreen, which will come with lots of new features. That includes a climate control system, because there's little in the way of heating and ventilation switchgear to prod at. That means it's all secreted away in the touchscreen, and though the system will doubtless be sharp and functional, it'll almost certainly be more chaotic and unintuitive than conventional buttons.

Joining the central touchscreen will be a passenger touchscreen, with more features for the front-seat passenger to enjoy, while the driver will get a digital instrument display. A head-up display will be available, too.

Practicality

Audi is yet to confirm the official dimensions, so we don't know for sure how big the boot is, or how big the frunk under the bonnet will be. But we do know it will have both, and neither will be especially small. The main luggage bay is perfectly adequate for most drivers' needs, and the frunk would even take a couple of small bags without complaint. But the unquestionable star is the cabin space, which is enormous. There's ample headroom in the front and rear, while rear legroom is also highly generous. Seating four adults won't be a problem on any length of journey, and the fact there's no transmission tunnel between the rear seats means the central fifth seat is fit for human occupation, too, although tall passengers won't enjoy it that much.

Performance

Audi is expected to offer the Q6 e-tron with a selection of powertrains, rising from the basic '45' to the full-fat RS Q6 e-tron, but those cars are a little way off. For now, the only confirmed powertrains are the '55' tested here and the SQ6 e-tron. Both will use a 100kWh battery pack with the capacity to charge at 270kW, and both will use two electric motors to provide all-wheel drive.

Naturally, the 55 will be the least potent of the two, with 'just' 400hp for short bursts, while the SQ6 will get 517hp on overboost. Both will be quick, with the '55' taking less than six seconds to hit 62mph, while the SQ6 will take less than 4.5 seconds to achieve the same feat. However, the '55' will have the larger range, with more than 370 miles between trips to the plug, according to the official economy test. Our test suggested that might be optimistic in the real world, particularly in winter, but it also showed a range of more than 200 miles should be easily achievable.

Ride & Handling

Audi still hasn't finished tuning the Q6 e-tron's suspension and steering, but so far, so impressive. The steering is perhaps the biggest let-down, feeling light and vague around the dead-ahead and then feeling artificially heavy at medium steering angles. But with six months until the car arrives in the UK, there's time to adjust that.

The brakes, on the other hand, need no adjustment whatsoever. Although some manufacturers struggle to blend the regenerative braking done by the electric motors with the hydraulic braking carried out by the discs and calipers, Audi has sorted the issue using a brake-by-wire system that provides strong and consistent feel at every stage. And because the pedal feels firm and dependable, it's easy to brake smoothly and effectively, which inspires confidence in the car.

As does the way it rides and handles. Yes, the steering might not be quite right, but Audi has worked hard on the balance of the car to ensure it doesn't roll too much and to make sure the ride is supple. The brand's engineers have done well on both counts, using air suspension to provide great body control in the sportiest settings while also offering a mature, comfortable ride in its softer settings. It isn't perfect, and we suspect the forthcoming electric Macan will be even better, but it's still a well-judged premium product.

Value

Audi is yet to officially announce UK prices for the Q6 e-tron, and it probably won't confirm those until next year, but we know it will more or less split the difference between the Q4 e-tron and Q8 e-tron. That means the basic 45 version is expected to come in at around 55,000, while the 55 will cost something between 65,000 and 70,000. The SQ6 e-tron, meanwhile, is likely to cost more than 80,000, while the range-topping RS Q6 e-tron will likely scream past the 100,000 mark.

Verdict

It's difficult to draw firm conclusions from a prototype, but the Audi Q6 e-tron shows immense promise. A few tweaks to the steering and a fully functional cabin with Audi's traditional technological prowess are all it will take to ensure this is one of the front runners in the mid-size electric SUV market.



James Fossdyke - 25 Jul 2023



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Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.

Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.Audi Q6 e-tron Prototype. Image by Tobias Sagmeister.








 

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