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Audi A6 Avant e-tron: high-performance S6 estate spied

The forthcoming A6 e-tron electric saloon will be joined by a more practical Avant variant, and we’ve spotted it in S6 form

The next few years will see Audi embark on its most ambitious product launch plan yet, with a series of more than 20 new electric cars scheduled to launch by 2026. A new, all-electric A6 is one of the key new models in the pipeline – we’ve already spotted the BMW i5-rivalling saloon testing at the Nürburgring, and these latest spy shots provide our first glimpse at the A6 Avant e-tron during its development phase. 

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Sharing most of its design with last year’s A6 Avant e-tron concept, the new A6 will be built on a new PPE pure-electric platform jointly developed with Porsche, which enables a variety of battery and motor configurations. This development mule, with enormous red brake calipers and subtle design changes, appears to be the high-performance S6 Avant e-tron, which will sit below a flagship RS6 in the lineup. 

Audi design boss Marc Lichte has previously indicated that the RS version will adopt the swollen bodywork and wide stance for which the model is known, and given that this disguised prototype wears a standard-width body that’s closer to last year’s concept, it’s likely to be the S6 instead. Certain elements such as a split headlight design, clean body surfaces and a full-width rear light bar also appear to be carried over from the show car. 

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As for what’s in store under the skin, the S6 is all but certain to use a dual-motor layout to exceed the concept’s 450bhp and 590lb ft outputs, while leaving some breathing room to the fully-fledged RS6. Expect a 100kWh battery pack to be mounted within the floor, with the 800V PPE architecture enabling 270kW charging rates to add 186 miles of range after just 10 minutes.

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To manage the S6 Avant e-tron’s mass, Audi is expected to roll out its most advanced suite of chassis tech, including air springs, adaptive dampers and active roll control, working with the platform’s five-link front and multi-link rear suspension setup. The A6 Avant e-tron is scheduled to launch next year alongside the saloon.

Audi A6 Avant e-tron concept: in detail

Audi has already previewed its forthcoming electric exec with the A6 Avant e-tron concept, which packs a 469bhp punch, can demolish the 0-62mph sprint in under 4sec and can travel 435 miles on a single charge. 

Much of what you see here will make it to the production car, including the large ‘single frame’ faired-in front grille, muscular wheel arch design, full width LED rear lamps and trademark steeply raked Avant tailgate.

It’s certainly the right size to be the next A6 Avant. With external dimensions that measure 4.96 metres long, 1.96 metres wide and 1.44 metres high, the e-tron sits in pretty much the same footprint as the current ICE version. Yet thanks to the inherent packaging advantages of an EV drivetrain, there promises to be more space for people and luggage.

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Underpinning the A6 Avant e-tron is the new PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture that Audi has developed in partnership with Porsche, a platform that will also find its way to the next generation Macan. This is a development of the J1 platform (used on the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT) and the scalable MEB structure seen on smaller VW Group products.

For the A6 e-tron Avant concept, Audi has packaged a pair of electric motors (one for the front axles and another for the rear, delivering quattro all-wheel drive) which combine to deliver 463bhp and a thumping 590lb ft of torque, enough for a sub-4sec dash to 62mph. Naturally, more potent motor setups will be employed for the S6 and RS6 versions.

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Agile handling shouldn’t be a problem, because like the Sportback concept, the Avant features a battery located below the floor and between the axles for a low centre of gravity and improved weight distribution. Air springs and adaptive dampers have been included on the concept, with a front suspension set-up that uses an EV-optimised five-link arrangement, while multi-link axles are to be found at the rear.

Audi hasn’t revealed exact specifications for the lithium ion battery pack, but it has revealed that it has a capacity of ‘around’ 100kWh, enough to carry the Avant 435 miles on a single charge. The car also features 800V architecture and has the capacity to charge at 270kW, which Audi claims results in the ability to add 186 miles of range in just 10 minutes.

Some of the features seen on the concept are unlikely to make the production car, at least not initially, but have plenty of potential. Most interesting of all is the car’s LED lighting technology, which goes way beyond allowing you to see where you are going in the dark. Mounted in the sides of the car are high resolution LED projectors that can beam customisable images onto the ground, such as a warning to cyclists that one of the car doors is about to be opened.

More innovative still are the Digital Matrix LED headlamps. Not only do they do all the usual high beam ‘masking’ trickery, they can also project what Audi claims are ‘cinematic’ quality images and video onto a wall when you’re parked up. It means that you and a passenger can play video games on what’s essentially a huge screen while waiting for the car charge.

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