You know how the VW ID.3, Cupra Born, Audi Q4 and Skoda Enyaq are all pretty much the same car underneath? Well the Q6 is the same underneath as the new Porsche Macan and the all-electric A6. This is the first chance we’ve had to try this slice of the future. Audi says the bits underneath the Q6 will "redefine the industry’s benchmarks in terms of performance, range, and charging.
The Q6 name probably gives away where this car fits in the Audi line up – it’s smaller than a Q8 e-tron but bigger than the Q4. It is due to go on sale at the end of 2023 with a price I’ve been promised will start with a five. That’s going to be decent value, since a BMW iX3 starts at £64,000.
The figures we’ve seen for the Q6 make that 'redefining' claim look like a bit of an exaggeration, but the figures are certainly impressive.
Audi Q8 e-tron battery, charging and efficiency
Even in this SUV shape the Q6 doesn’t do too badly. It gives a range of more than 600 km – or 375 miles - from a whopping 100kWh battery. That matches the BMW iX, trumps the Mercedes EQS SUV and beats them both for efficiency.
This is mostly down to a new 800 volt system which means the electrical hardware can handle more power. It means the Audi wins at the charge point too, accepting up to 270kW at a rapid charger, meaning it takes 10 mins to add over 150 miles of range on a big enough point and will do a 10-80% charge in less than 30 mins. And remember that’s with a battery which is twice the size of the pack in the Vauxhall Astra Electric and a third bigger that a Tesla Model Y.
Audi Q8 e-tron performance and driving
This new platform, as it’s called in car making terms, is called PPE. Which has nothing to do with facemasks – it stands for Premium Platform Electric.
In the version we tried there are two motors, one at each end producing a total of 375bhp. But if you ask the car nicely it will give you a 20bhp bonus for overtaking or standing starts for a short period.
Audi say it’s enough for a 0-60 time of under six seconds. That’s plenty but won’t win you many bragging competitions in a world where an MG4 can manage it in less than four seconds and will be half the price of some Q6s.
If you are concerned about being outdragged in the office car park by your under manager, then you can splash out on the SQ6 e-tron. This lops around a second and a half off the acceleration time by boosting power to 482bhp, or 510 bhp on that temporary overboost.
After a drive on wet roads with strict speed limits, I can tell you that the Audi feels perfectly fast enough to keep most people happy. There's not the vicious shove in the back you get from a Tesla - or even that MG XPower - but the Q6 has a more linear throttle response which is more relaxing somehow. Push the pedal and it goes as fast as anyone could need from a family SUV.
The steering is also a bit of a revelation compared to previous Audi efforts. Well weighted and perfectly geared, it gets the balance between sporty responses and relaxing driving just about right.
When you want to slow down it gets a little more confusing. There is a 'B' mode like you'll find in most EVs, but its unusually strong, meaning there is a huge braking effect when you lift off the throttle. You can instead choose the normal 'D' setting and then use paddles behind the steering wheel to find a more comfortable level. It's a little odd if you are used to other electric cars but not a deal-breaker.
Neither is the wind and road noise, which are both louder than we expected. That might change on production cars and neither are bad enough to make you raise your voice to have a conversation, but they are surprising in a car which otherwise has exceptional refinement. The air suspension copes with poor roads well and hides the Q6's weight well over bumps and in corners.
Audi Q6 e-tron technology
We didn't get to see a lot of the Q6's tech as Audi wants to keep some of its powder dry for future reveals when the car is launched 'properly' at a later date. But there is one particular feature which Audi is VERY proud of - the lights.
They use a matrix of LEDs, which makes it easier to see at night and avoid dazzling other drivers. That’s clever, but nothing new. What takes them to the next level is the patterns which can be programmed in to the front and rear lamp displays. They can do useful things like warn cyclists if someone is opening a door, but owners can also choose the appearance and animation.
There’s a standard one of course, but there are six other ‘signatures’ for the daytime running light and rear lamps, which you can choose via the car’s app. You have to pay for them though, a bit like when we all used to download ring tones for our Nokias. Perhaps you’d like something that twinkles at Christmas? Or love hearts on Valentines day? Anything is possible.
Audi Q6 e-tron verdict
Other than the flash light tech, is the future bright for the posh cars in the Volkswagen group? After our first taster, it seems the Q6 is certainly up there with the best and it makes the newly-revamped Q8 look a bit old fashioned. I know you all like SUVs, and I do too – but I can’t help but think that this powertrain in an A6 Avant will be more efficient, faster and more interesting to look at. It won’t even need this paint job to get admired.