Sketches of Audi’s e-tron quattro concept give us a preview of what’s to come

Audi has published a batch of design sketches that preview a brand new concept dubbed e-tron quattro. The experimental SUV is scheduled to make its public debut in less than a month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The e-tron quattro is openly billed as a close-to-production show car that will spawn a battery-powered SUV aimed squarely at the Tesla Model X. It ushers in the design language that will influence all of Audi’s upcoming electric vehicles over the next few years. Up front, it stands out from recent additions to the the car maker’s lineup like the Q7 and the A4 thanks to boomerang-shaped OLED headlights and a large grille accented by four slats.

A rakish D-pillar and pronounced haunches give the e-tron quattro a less utilitarian appearance than the Q5 and the aforementioned Q7, while a retractable roof-mounted spoiler adds a sporty touch to the overall look. Fitted with fender-mounted cameras in lieu of mirrors, it boasts a drag coefficient of 0.25, a figure that makes it more aerodynamic than a vast majority of SUVs on the market today.

Audi was able to install a floating center console in the cockpit because the e-tron quattro doesn’t have a driveshaft, which eliminates the need for a transmission tunnel. It also gets a driver-oriented dashboard and four OLED touch screens that let the occupants access the navigation, connectivity and entertainment menus. Alternatively, all of the screens recognize hand gestures.

Power for the e-tron quattro will come from an all-electric drivetrain built using components sourced from the R8 e-tron parts bin. Although full details are still being kept under wraps, sources close to Audi have previously revealed the electric motors will zap all four wheels with about 500 horsepower and over 500 foot-pounds of torque.

The e-tron is shaping up to be a technological tour de force. It will be fitted with a state-of-the-art battery pack designed with input from tech giants Samsung SDI and LG Chem, and it will inaugurate the futuristic inductive charging technology that Audi has developed to make charging cables a thing of the past. Audi has confirmed its first-ever production EV will offer a maximum driving range of about 310 miles, meaning it will be able to drive 40 miles farther on a charge than the Model X.

Built on Volkswagen’s MLB platform, the e-tron quattro slots between the Q5 and the Q7 in terms of size. Audi has made extensive use of lightweight materials such as aluminum in order to offset the weight added by the bulky battery pack, but what it tips the scale at is anyone’s guess.

Full details about the Audi e-tron quattro concept will be published in the coming weeks, and we’ll bring you live images of it straight from the show floor in Frankfurt starting on September 15.

What’s next?

Audi isn’t shy about admitting the e-tron quattro concept that will be revealed in Germany in a few weeks will be toned down a little and added to its lineup as a regular-production model. It is tentatively scheduled to go on sale in 2018 with a price tag that will lie in the vicinity of $100,000.

The e-tron quattro will launch with an electric drivetrain, but Car & Driver reports Audi will quickly expand the lineup with a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid model and, possibly, a fuel cell-powered model. However, it sounds like the Volkswagen-owned company has ruled out basic gasoline- and diesel-powered variants for the time being.