Audi presents the Q6 e-tron. It fills the gap between the Q4 e-tron and the Q8 e-tron. The new mid-size SUV is also Audi's first car based on the all-electric Premium Platform Electric (PPE), on which its sister model, the Porsche Macan, is also based.

The Audi Q6 e-tron will be available to order from 30 April in the UK and will be in dealerships from this summer. Two all-wheel drives will then be available, with two rear-wheel drives following later. One of the special features of the Audi is the variable light signature, which is not available on any other model or from any other manufacturer.

Exterior and dimensions

The Audi Q6 e-tron is visually similar to the Q5 combustion model, but the grille is "inverted" here: Light and dark sections are reversed. At 4.77 metres, the electric car is a few centimetres longer than the fossil fuel-powered model, but at 1.65 metres it is also two centimetres higher. Compared to the Q4 e-tron, the newcomer is around 20 centimetres longer, but 15 centimetres shorter than the Q8 e-tron.

In terms of looks, Audi likes to emphasise the "Quattro blisters" (or blades) above the rear wings (wheel arches), which are intended to highlight the all-wheel drive - in the case of electric cars, the name is a misnomer, as the front axle is added to the all-wheel drive, not the rear axle. The side beading merges into the rear lights at the rear and the daytime running lights at the front - the actual headlights are positioned underneath.

Audi SQ6 e-tron mit Autor Stefan Leichsenring

The lighting technology is completely new. The car has a variable light signature at the front and rear. The front daytime running lights consist of two sets of 61 rectangular "pixels", totalling 122, while at the rear there are three panels on the left and right, each with 60 triangular "pixels", totalling 360. These are used to create different light signatures. You can stand in front or behind the car and choose your favourite pattern using a smartphone app:  

Audi Q6 e-tron (2024): Die Technik
Audi Q6 e-tron (2024): Die Technik

Versions, batteries and drives

As with the Macan, there are two all-wheel drive models to start with: the normal Q6 e-tron quattro offers 387 PS (285 kW), the SQ6 e-tron quattro even 517 PS (380 kW) when Launch Control is activated. However, this makes the drive systems somewhat weaker than the Macan, which offers 407 and 639 PS (300 and 470 kW) respectively. As with its sister model, the two launch versions have a battery with 95 kWh net (100 kWh gross).

The battery consists of 12 modules with 15 prismatic cells each. The total of 180 cells are all connected in series to achieve a voltage of 800 volts - the configuration is therefore 180s1p. The cells come from CATL, but other manufacturers are to be added. They have an NMC811 chemistry and enable ranges of around 600 kilometres (373 miles) for the all-wheel drive vehicles.

  Audi Q6 e-tron quattro Audi SQ6 e-tron quattro
Drive system AWD 387 PS AWD 517 PS
0-100 km/h / top speed 5.9 sec / 130 mph (210 km/h) 4.3 sec / 143 mph (230 km/h)
WLTP power consumption 17.0-19.4 kWh 17.5-18.4 kWh
Battery / WLTP range 95 kWh net / 388 miles (625 km) 95 kWh net / 372 miles (598 km)
Max. Charging power AC/DC 11 / 270 kW
Charging time 10h with AC (0-100%), approx. 21 min with DC (10-80%)
Charging speed DC approx. 3.2 kWh/min
Base price €74,700 €93,800

While Porsche did not want to confirm any rear-wheel drive models to us, Audi has announced two RWD variants: a basic version and a long-range model. Both are likely to have a 381 PS (280 kW) rear motor - the same as the 387 PS (285 kW) all-wheel drive model.

Plattform PPE: Die fünf Antriebseinheiten (Electric Drive Units, EDMs) von Audi. Die kommenden Hecktriebler bekommen den 280-kW-Heckmotor

The entry-level model will have a smaller battery instead of the 95 kWh battery. The middle two modules are omitted here. The remaining 10 modules with 15 cells each store 83 kWh gross (and presumably 79 kWh net). The other rear-wheel drive model will have the 95 kWh battery, but with the 381 PS (280 kW) rear-wheel drive it will have a significantly greater range than the 388 miles (625 km) offered at launch. When asked whether the model would then come close to 435 miles (700 km), battery expert Johannes Haf told us that this threshold would be "pulverised".  

While Porsche uses permanent magnet synchronous motors at the front and rear of the Macan, Audi only uses PSMs at the rear, but asynchronous motors (ASMs) at the front. The advantage: the secondary axle (the front one) can simply be de-energised, while the Macan front axle must be energised even when it is not needed - otherwise it would brake.

Porsche apparently opted for the more powerful PSM, while Audi uses the more easily deactivated (and cheaper) ASM. In total, the base model of the Macan with 17.9-21.1 kWh consumes slightly more than the Audi with 17.0-19.4 kWh. However, the Porsche is 20 PS (15 kW) more powerful.

Audi Q6 e-tron (2024): Die Technik

In addition to the motors, the two drive units each comprised an input gearbox and an inverter. The gearbox consists of three cogwheels each because, as motor expert Florian Bittner told us, only a gear ratio of around 4 could be achieved with two, while the Q6 has a gear ratio of 9. As far as the inverter is concerned, the rear one works with silicon carbide semiconductors, as is the case with Porsche; this axle is therefore particularly efficient - both in terms of drive and recuperation.

Recuperation

Recuperation can take place with up to 220 kW. For reasons of efficiency, smaller decelerations are carried out via the rear axle alone, while larger decelerations are carried out via both axles. The hydraulic brakes are only activated when more deceleration is required. Special feature: Valves in the hydraulic brake lines mean that only the rear axle can be braked. This results in four deceleration modes:

Thermomanagement-Experte Tobias Fickenseher erklärt die vier Verzögerungsarten beim Audi Q6 e-tron

While Porsche completely rejects coasting recuperation (i.e. recuperation when the accelerator pedal is released) because coasting is more efficient, Audi supports this form of energy recuperation and thus gives customers the choice. The strength can be set in three stages using paddles on the steering wheel: 0 for coasting, 1 for weak recuperation and 2 for stronger recuperation. The strongest braking effect is achieved by activating B mode via the switch in the centre console. It enables genuine one-pedal driving right up to a standstill, as we discovered during our first driving tests.

Special feature: If you activate One Pedal Driving when the battery is full, you feel the same deceleration as when it is partially empty. Because the recovered energy cannot be fed into the full battery, the brakes are applied hydraulically via the discs in this case. If this is not practical (because the brakes are already hot), the energy can be dissipated to the outside as heat via the coolant and the radiator.

Another speciality: the car can also be pre-air-conditioned when it is not connected to the electric mains. The heating energy is then taken from the battery. Another unusual feature is the PTL air heater, which heats the interior air like a fan heater (i.e. without coolant). If you finish your day's skiing at 5 p.m., for example, you can preheat the Q6 e-tron in the car park for this time.

Audi Q6 e-tron (2024): Die Technik

The battery's cooling water pipes are U-shaped to enable the most homogeneous temperature control possible

Charging with up to 270 kW

Charging takes place with 11 kW alternating current; a 22 kW on-board charger will also be available as an option at a later date. Thanks to the 800-volt architecture, charging is also possible with up to 270 kW direct current. This should allow the battery to be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 21 minutes. In ten minutes, it should be possible to charge up to 158 miles ( 255 km). Plug & Charge is supported. If the charging station only offers 400 volts, then, as with the Macan, bank charging comes into play: the battery is divided into two sections, which are then charged with up to 135 kW. 

Audi Q6 e-tron: Das Cockpit (Detail)

Cockpit and controls

The cockpit of the Q6 e-tron was already presented in detail a few months ago. Here there is a completely new, slightly curved dual display, consisting of an 11.9-inch instrument display and a 14.5-inch touchscreen, both with OLED technology. A head-up display with augmented reality function and a passenger display are also installed. The latter can be used to watch videos (without distracting the driver) or operate the navigation system to support the person behind the wheel.

The transmission modes P, N, R, D and B are activated with a switch in the centre console. There are physical controls for the volume and the hazard warning lights, but unfortunately not for the air conditioning - on a bumpy road, it may be difficult to adjust them via touchscreen.

As with Porsche, the infotainment is based on Google technology. We tested the charging planning and very quickly received plausible results for routes from Munich to Paris and to Malaga. The system also shows how many charging points are occupied and whether the location has already been used on the day in question. And, of course, the battery is automatically preconditioned if DC charging stops are planned.

Ladeplanung im Audi Q6 e-tron für die Strecke München-Paris

Porsche offers numerous options for the interior design, from a black and white mottled fabric interior to a version with white leather and wood (brown or with the look of black and white birch bark) through to brushed aluminium. There are also three different seat types; the more expensive ones also have loudspeakers in the headrests.

Audi SQ6 e-tron: Im Fond reicht die Kopffreiheit für den 1,76 m großen Autor locker aus

During our small seat test, we noticed hard plastic sections in a number of places that shouldn't really be present in a premium model. For example, on the armrests in the doors, on the backs of the front seats and at the rear end of the centre console. However, head and knee room in the rear is sufficient for the 1.76 metre tall author. We find the closing technology a bit staid: we would prefer door handles that extend when approached rather than the traditional handles that Audi has opted for.  

Prices and competition

Midsize SUVs with electric drive such as the Audi Q6 e-tron or the Porsche Macan are already a dime a dozen. However, Audi hardly has to fear the traditional premium competition. With the maximum 285 PS (210 kW) iX3, the BMW is not on par, and Mercedes is also still working on the successor to the discontinued EQC. However, models such as the Tesla Model Y Performance or Kia EV6 GT are faster than the SQ6, and the 800-volt cars from Kia and Hyundai can at least keep up when it comes to fast charging - they charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes.

The 388 mile (625 km) range of the Q6 e-tron quattro is good, but not the best - the new Renault Scenic with its large battery offers the same range, albeit with much less engine power. A detailed comparison will show how the Q6 e-tron performs as an overall package compared to the competition.

The Audi Q6 e-tron quattro and SQ6 e-tron go on sale in the UK on 30 April priced from £68,975 and £92,950 respectively. At that time further specifications will also be announced.

The bottom line

At the market launch, the Audi newcomer scores above all with its brutal acceleration, which we were able to see for ourselves during an initial test drive in the SQ6 e-tron. Added to this is the extremely fast charging. The third ingredient for a convincing electric car will only be added later with the long-range rear-wheel drive, which should be able to cover well over 435 miles (700 km). 

For the time being, the technological edge is achieved through fine details. These include the solution for the braking effect when coasting recuperation is activated and the battery is full, pre-heating when the car is unplugged or the adjustable light signature, which you can't get anywhere else. But you also pay a lot of money for all this. And as good as the new mid-range SUV from Audi may be, there is actually a lack of affordable electric cars at the moment.

Gallery: Audi Q6 e-tron (2024)