The Frankfurt Motor Show is to be the setting for a preview of an all-electric SUV that Audi is preparing for 2018. The e-tron quattro concept offers up a range of over 500 km (311 miles) from its 370 kW (496 hp) electric powertrain and wraps it all up in a sharply-styled suit that puts the new Q7 to shame.
Hiding underneath the concept's edgy exterior are three electric motors, one on the front axle and two on the rear, for a total output of 320 kW (429 hp) in normal driving. The system can also briefly boost to 370 kW (496 hp) and a massive 800 Nm of torque, enough to shoot it 100 km/h (62 mph) from standstill in just 4.6 seconds: almost as quick as Audi's own RS3.
Just like Tesla, Audi has mounted the e-tron's batteries in the floor for a low center of gravity and equal weight distribution across both axles, which should give it some talent when it comes time to show it a set of corners, something that Audi is hoping will be a strong point for its torque vectoring-enabled electric SUV. Also helping keep the e-tron quattro balanced in the bends is adaptive air suspension that automatically lowers the car at high speeds to improve aerodynamics and reduce battery consumption.
In an attempt to improve maneuverability, the e-tron quattro is fitted with all-wheel steering similar to the system offered on Porsche's 911 GT3 RS, the rear wheels turning in the opposite direction to the front wheels at low speeds for a smaller turning circle and working in the same direction as the fronts at high speed for a sense of stability.
Audi has given its latest SUV concept a sleek and coupe-like sloping roofline and tapered glasshouse. At 4.88 m (16 ft) long and 1.93 m (6.3 ft) wide, the e-tron isn't a small car, but it looks far sharper than the bigger, more traditional Q7. With a drag coefficient of 0.25, it's also very aerodynamic for an SUV.
This is partially thanks to the sleek shape of the body and partly thanks to electronically-actuated aerodynamic elements in the bonnet, the side of the car and at the rear that activate at 80 km/h (50 mph). Just as it has done with the new A4, Audi has also worked hard on the underbody to cut down on drag. The e-tron has a fully enclosed floorpan.
Inside, the e-tron has been designed to provide plenty of space for four people and all their luggage. If the production car can match the concept's 615 liters (21.7 cu.ft) of luggage space, owners certainly aren't going to struggle fitting all their junk into the back on a weekend away.
The driver is treated to a more advanced version of the virtual cockpit that debuted in the TT last year. Sitting to the left and right of the virtual cockpit are two touchscreen displays, one of which controls the lights and semi-autonomous functions on the car. The other screen takes care of media and navigation functions, while drivers are also able to control proceedings from the steering wheel.
In the center console there are more OLED screens to give drivers information about the status of where power is being sent at different points.
The e-tron quattro will be on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where Gizmag will be on the ground covering all the action.