Audi has confirmed that a new all-electric e-tron concept car will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next month, previewing a compact SUV that will be introduced into the firm’s line-up in 2020.

Officially called the Audi Q4 e-tron concept it’s a compact coupe SUV using the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform. When it enters production towards the  end of 2020 it’ll be the first Audi using the VW Group’s multi-billion pound electric vehicle architecture.

New Audi e-tron in-depth review

Three official teaser sketches hint at the design of the concept, inside and out. The images suggest a cab-forward design for this compact coupe SUV, making use of the lack of engine up front to maximise interior space. The front end of the vehicle appears to be a slightly updated take on the firm’s current design language, with a large eight-sided grille flanked by a pair of very thin headlights. The front apron itself sports a pair of gaping, angular cuts, with an illuminated e-tron badge sitting above the front splitter.

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Look down the sides of the vehicle and two strong front and rear shoulders are found above the front and rear axles, while a thick C-pillar emphasises the Q4 e-tron concept’s rakish rear. In the metal the car should appear a little more conventional than these sketches. When the final car is unveiled a little over 20 months from now it’ll be toned down even more, and our exclusive images preview the road-going version.

The interior teaser sketch reveals a cabin layout inspired by the larger e-tron GT Concept, using a hexagonal steering wheel and a near identical centre console, with a touchscreen infotainment unit slanted towards the driver. Of course, the interior is packaged ever so slightly differently, given the size of the Q4 e-tron Concept compared to the e-tron GT, plus the fact that the SUV uses the MEB platform, compared to the four-door coupe’s Porsche Taycan underpinnings.

While the full-size e-tron SUV joins theTesla Model X andJaguar I-Pace , and will soon take on competition fromMercedes andBMW , the small, premium electric SUV space is an as-yet-untapped market. Audi wants to place a serious marker here, to get the jump on theTesla Model Y , the all-electric version of theVolvo XC40 and a rumoured small electric SUV from Mercedes, all of which are tipped to surface in 2019.

The vehicle is in effect an all-electric sibling for thenew Q3 , with exterior dimensions extremely close to those of the brand’s third most popular model, save for the sharper rear end.

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Even in its final full year in dealers, theprevious-generation Q3 brought in more than 200,000 sales worldwide for the company. As such, introducing an electric option in the crossover segment and pouncing to get there early could be a lucrative move.

As with the larger e-tron SUV, it’ll fall in line with the rest of the Audi line-up by largely using the brand’s conventional design language, but dressed up with e-tron elements such as the slat-based, opening-and-closing front grille.

While the larger e-tron SUV uses a bespoke platform, the smaller newcomer will be a product born ofVolkswagen Group modularity. It’s not just the first Audi to use the group’s multi-billion-pound new one-size-fits-allMEB platform for electric vehicles; it should be one of the first SUVs in the VW Group to sit on the architecture.

Electric Audi hatchback on the way

The MEB platform has been described as a ‘skateboard’-like system, allowing the batteries, electric motors and most of the major cooling hardware to be packaged low and even recessed into the base of the chassis. This means Audi will be able to create an electric car the same size as the Q3, but with interior space rivalling that of the brand’s best-selling SUV, the largerQ5 .

It’s anticipated that the electric crossover will be offered with all three of the MEB system’s different battery sizes. The Volkswagen Group has still not clarified the exact sizes of the platform’s battery packs, nor the final ranges, but a 48kWh model capable of 205 miles on a single charge is expected to form the cheapest option, with longer-distance 60kWh and 80kWh versions also offered, enabling up to 310 miles of electric range.

Beyond the new electric crossover, Audi has already confirmed it plans to introduce 12 all-electric e-tron models by 2025. A coupé version of the e-tron SUV could be next on the bill.

Click here for our list of the top 10 electric cars currently on sale...

Source: AutoExpress

February 13, 2019