The Audi A6 will gain an electric equivalent in 2024, complete with an Avant-badged version that's set to be the one of the first electric executive estates on sale.
Ingolstadt's answer to the upcoming 2023 BMW i5 will be heavily based on last year's acclaimed Audi A6 E-tron and A6 Avant E-tron concepts - with minimal revisions made to prepare it for showrooms, Autocar understands.
Speaking recently to Autocar, Audi design boss Marc Lichte revealed that a recent string of concepts from the firm are much closer to production cars than is often the case.
He revealed, for example, that the new 2024 Audi A8 will be "very close" to 2021's Grandsphere concept and strongly hinted that the new Audi Activesphere concept could become an 'Allroad 2.0' version of the next Audi A7 in 2027 - and he finished up by suggesting the A6 E-tron concept duo were likewise concrete previews of the next-generation A6.
"At the end of this year, we will launch the Q6 E-tron, and then a few months later the A6 E-tron," Lichte said. "The A6 E-tron is exactly three years after we launched the E-tron GT, and on the A6 E-tron – as you could see on the concept car, which is very, very, very, very, very close to the production car – you can see that we will go sleeker and simpler."
He explained that the Q6 E-tron and A6 E-tron will be the first models to showcase the brand's refreshed design image and that the Activesphere shows hints at the next evolution after that.
"After three years, we do an evolution; it's a clear strategy," he said. "That's why the Activesphere looks strange from today's perspective: we're talking about a car which I see in our portfolio in 2027.
"If you look to the end of this year and beginning of next year with the A6, you will see this evolution."
The Audi A6 E-tro concepts concepts sit atop the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, which Audi is developing in partnership with Porsche and will be deployed first in the new Porsche Macan EV and Audi Q6 E-tron in 2023.
This platform blends elements of the Porsche Taycan and Audi E-tron GT’s J1 underpinnings with the MEB architecture used more widely by the Volkswagen Group.
Audi said it will ensure “that what the car’s lines imply is translated into a standard of dynamic driving performance and everyday suitability befitting use for long drives”.
Audi hasn't yet given full details of the A6 E-tron’s drivetrain but said there will be a choice of performance-oriented dual-motor set-ups and efficiency-minded, rear-driven variants in the eventual production version, offering 0-62mph times ranging from “well under” four seconds to seven seconds.
The dual-motor concept packs a claimed 463bhp and 590lb ft, but a promised electric Audi RS6 Avant successor could pack more than 600bhp, as previewed by the technically similar Macan EV.
In this application, the PPE accommodates a circa-100kWh floor-mounted battery that gives a claimed 435 miles of range and can charge at a rate of 270kW to gain 186 miles of range from a 10-minute top-up.
Because the battery is sited flat and arranged across the chassis, the concept is said to offer broadly comparable interior dimensions and load capacity to the current A6.
However, product marketing boss Niko Martens said EV platforms will ultimately “give more leeway and flexibility, not just in the trunk [boot] but also up the front for a potential frunk”.
Importantly, the electric concept shows how the longer wheelbase afforded by an EV platform allows for more leg room in the front and rear.
The A6 Avant E-tron measures 4960mm long, 1960mm wide and 1440mm tall, which makes it roughly the same size as its ICE forebear.
The unveiling of the A6 E-tron came just a few months after Mercedes-Benz product boss Markus Schäfer told reporters that traditional estates faced an “uncertain” future in light of waning demand for low-riding family cars.
Audi designer Phillipp Römers said: “We’ve got a long tradition with very sporty, very emotional Avants. It’s a tradition that really is in our roots and we want to continue it, so for us as designers, it’s always fantastic to work on that bodystyle, because it’s the perfect combination of usability and expressive, sporty design.”
Martens concurred: “We still can see a buoyant demand for the car. It’s not a concept that works globally, true, but it's hugely successful and hotly in demand.”
Grand plans for PPE platform
Audi has confirmed that the PPE will also be deployed in the segments immediately below and above the A6, which means the best-selling Audi A4 and range-topping Audi A8 will also be succeeded by PPE-based EVs.
The company has already previewed the electric Audi A8 successor with the outlandish Grandsphere concept, but details of an electric A4 equivalent have yet to be given.
It will no doubt tout performance specifications to match those of the larger A6 and also be offered in saloon and estate bodystyles, but it has yet to be given a release date.
Audi says the PPE can be used by both SUVs and the lower-slung traditional models, which means “electric vehicles will now also be attractive to customers who prefer automobile concepts beyond the SUV segment”.
However, there’s still no word on whether it could be used as the basis for a dedicated sports EV to succeed the Audi TT, or indeed the Audi R8.