New Audi A6 Avant e-tron will be a load-lugging all-electric estate

Audi’s e-tron range of electric cars will soon gain a familiar shape

We’ve caught the upcoming Audi A6 Avant e-tron testing and this time it’s got less camouflage than ever, highlighting some key design features of the big electric estate. 

The latest spy shots show the standard A6 Avant e-tron but previous images show we’ll get a five-door Sportback version as well as hot S6 variants of both. The architecture underpinning the A6 e-tron will be Premium Platform Electric (PPE), which we’ll see first on the Audi Q6 e-tron and various other Volkswagen Group models like the all-electric Porsche Macan. 

The A6 e-tron Avant will enter a rather desolate electric estate market, although new competition will emerge in 2024 with the incoming BMW i5 Touring and NIO ET5 Touring.

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We’ve seen the A6 e-tron and the Avant bodystyle in concept form already and while the production cars will be toned down from this, these fresh spy images show some elements will be carried over.

This test car wears precious little camouflage at the front and we can see Audi’s traditional large ‘Singleframe’ grille although it’s a thinner design than the current internal-combustion engined A6.

Audi’s shift to using two-piece headlights will continue with the A6 e-tron. Here the thin upper unit incorporates a chequered pattern with Audi’s latest matrix LED technology with a more simplistic lower section. Below we can see the side air intakes more clearly than before, channelling air around the front wheels to improve aerodynamics.

The sleek body features muscular haunches and slim door handles, along with a set of digital side mirrors like those found on the Q8 e-tron luxury SUV. This will likely be reserved for higher trim models as other spy shots have shown traditional wing mirrors. In typical Audi style, the rear window is heavily raked, and the camouflage looks to be concealing a full-width OLED light bar that’ll stretch across the tailgate. Beneath, there’s a large section of the bumper designed to look like a diffuser to give off a more sporting aura.

We’re yet to see inside the A6 e-tron in either Sportback or Avant guise, but it should borrow plenty from the similarly-sized Q6 e-tron. That would mean a triple screen layout on the dash with an 11.9-inch virtual cockpit for the driver, a 14.5-inch touchscreen in the middle and for the passenger a 10.9-inch display. The passenger’s screen features an ‘active privacy mode’ which means it can display videos for the passenger without distracting the driver. There should also be an optional augmented head-up display and a ‘self-learning’ voice assistant that can retain data from previous commands to provide a routine.

The A6 e-tron will use the latest technology within the VW Group thanks to its brand-new PPE architecture. The platform utilises an 800V electronic architecture that enables rapid charging at up to 270kW. In the Q6 e-tron, this allows for a 5 to 80 per cent charge in around 25 minutes, while plugging in for 10 minutes can provide an extra 186 miles of range.

If the A6 Avant uses the same drivetrain as the closely related Q6 e-tron, it’ll feature a dual-motor setup for all-wheel drive and draw power from a 100kWh battery pack. The 100kWh unit will stand as the largest battery offered on both the A6 e-tron and A6 Avant e-tron, but lower-specification models with a single motor option are also on the cards. Fitted with the most efficient combination of powertrain elements, we expect up to 400 miles should be possible on a charge, judging by the Q6 e-tron’s claimed 370-mile range.

The base Q6 e-tron has 396bhp, but Audi will also launch a high performance SQ6 model with 510bhp, with these figures also expected to be mirrored by the A6 Avant e-tron and its S6 version.

There’s potential for a bespoke-bodied, range-topping RS6 e-tron to follow in the next few years, but the prototypes we’ve caught glimpses of so far are the A6 or S6 Avant, both of which will share the same styling and bodywork.

As a larger model in Audi’s EV range, we expect the road car to be available with chassis hardware such as air suspension and adaptive dampers, as well as elements like rear-wheel steering on the high-end specifications.

The A6 Avant e-tron will arrive in 2024, sometime after the launch of the saloon-esque Sportback and the new Q6 before that. And for those not yet ready to go electric, the existing combustion-engined A6 models are expected to live on under the A7 moniker, much like Audi is set to do with the smaller ICE-powered A5 Sportback and Avant, which will also make their debuts in 2024.

Until recently, the choice of zero-emissions wagons was limited to either the budget-friendly MG5 EV, or the considerably pricier Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo and Cross Turismo. But it appears more brands have come round to the idea, as more practical versions of the Peugeot E-308 and Vauxhall Astra Electric are on their way. Volkswagen is set to launch an electric estate car with the ID.7 Tourer, while Volvo, who recently axed estate cars from its UK line-up, are considering whether to launch one. There are also BMW and NIO’s offerings mentioned above.

Audi A6 e-tron Concept 

In 2022, Audi revealed the A6 Avant e-tron Concept that will bear a close resemblance to the production car that will land in 2024. The A6 Avant e-tron concept is a more practical iteration of the A6 e-tron concept executive saloon revealed the previous year. 

The car sits on the same Premium Platform Electric (PPE) platform as the forthcoming Q6 e-tron SUV (and the A6 e-tron production car) which has been co-developed with Porsche. It utilises an 800V electronic architecture that enables rapid charging at up to 270kW, meaning a 5 to 80 per cent charge takes less than 25 minutes, while plugging in for 10 minutes can provide an extra 186 miles of range. 

As per the A6 e-tron concept, the Avant revealed here is powered by a battery that holds “around 100kWh of energy”, and this will be true of the production version too. The c. 100kWh unit will stand as the largest battery offered on both the A6 e-tron and Avant e-tron, and despite a slightly higher drag coefficient than the saloon Audi claims up to 435 miles should be possible on a charge from the Avant e-tron concept. Expect this figure to remain for the production model. 

This concept features a dual-motor set-up for quattro all-wheel drive and a total of 469bhp and 800Nm. This powertrain will also be offered when the car goes on sale in a few years time and delivers a 0-62mph time of “less than four seconds.”

However, Audi has confirmed that a less powerful and more affordable single-motor model will also be offered; this will serve up the most driving range in the line-up and should still deliver a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds.

The A6 Avant e-tron concept’s styling closely follows that of the saloon version revealed last year, with a design language that previews forthcoming electric Audis. At the front, there’s a large ‘Singleframe’ grille that incorporates contrasting black graphics and side cooling vents for the motors, battery and brakes, with an illuminated Audi badge.

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The headlights are incredibly slim, digital matrix LED items that use projection technology. Similar to the A6 e-tron concept, when parked this prototype Avant can display videos onto a wall to allow passengers to play games, for example. Numerous LED projectors around the car also allow signals, messages and lighting effects to be shone onto the ground – including information on direction changes related to indicator inputs to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The door mirrors are slender, digital units.

The A6 Avant e-tron concept is fitted with a set of 22-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and the clean, uncluttered body surfacing is a departure from current Audis, with a rising waistline and muscular haunches along the side of the car. There’s more black accents for the sills and A-pillars, which are highlighted by a silver trim strip that extends along the roofline to the rear spoiler. 

The rear window is heavily tapered, and there’s a full width OLED tail-light bar that can display a variety of 3D light signatures and graphics. A deep rear diffuser funnels air from underneath the car and is painted gloss black, with contrasting silver accent trim.

This concept car features air suspension and adaptive dampers, which are expected to make their way to the eventual production model, and the new PPE underpinnings should help maximise space inside. 

Audi did not reveal images of the concept’s interior, but the A6 Avant e-tron concept is nearly five metres long and 1.96 metres wide, with a relatively long wheelbase and short overhangs that provide more legroom for passengers, the brand says. As with other electric cars, the lack of a transmission tunnel should add to the spacious feel.

Audi hasn’t detailed the A6 Avant e-tron’s boot capacity – key to any estate car – but it is set to be a more versatile machine than the saloon, and the floor-mounted battery pack should allow for a flat load area. The production car will also have a front boot for extra carrying space.

Now read our in-depth review of the Audi Q4 e-tron…

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