Avant-garde is a French phrase that means “favoring or introducing experimental or unusual ideas.” In 1977, Audi took the word avant and applied it to its wagon models. In the decades since, Audi Avants have been a mainstay of the company’s vehicle lineup. So it is fitting, as the EV revolution moves forward, that Audi should offer a battery-electric wagon that captures the Avant tradition.
What you see here is a pre-production concept, but it is no wild designer’s dream. Scheduled to appear in showrooms a year after the Audi A6 Sportback, it is “a completely tangible look at future production models on our new PPE technology platform,” says Audi technical development chief Oliver Hoffmann. “We’re not just electrifying the Avant’s successful 45-year history. What we want most of all is to use technical skill to add an exclamation point. In particular, this includes powerful 800 volt technology, 270 kW of charging capacity, and a WLTP range of up to 700 kilometers (435 miles).”
The car will be 4.96 meters (16.3 feet) long, 1.96 meters (6.4 feet) wide, and 1.44 meters (4.7 feet) high. It will have a claimed Cd of just 0.24, which compares favorably with the 0.22 figure for the slightly more aerodynamic A6 Sportback. “Large 22-inch wheels and short overhangs, the flat cabin, and a dynamic roof arch give the Avant proportions that are distinctly reminiscent of a sports car,” Audi says, recognizing the preferences of today’s car buyers for vehicles that look like something other than what they are.
The A6 Sportback e-tron and A6 Avant e-tron are built on the Volkswagen Group’s PPE (premium platform electric) chassis. In base single motor trim, both should accelerate to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. In its press release, the company hints there will be upgraded models capable — presumably with dual motors — that will manage the sprint in around 4 seconds. With a high power DC charger, drivers will be able to add 300 km (186 miles) in just 10 minutes. Charging from 5% to 80% will require only 25 minutes, making it “uncompromisingly suitable for long journeys,” the company says.
Electrive picked up on this additional statement from Audi: “The Audi A6 e-tron Sportback and Avant concept cars are now the first members of a family of vehicles — initially in the C-segment and later also in the B and D segments.” Audi writes. That suggests the PPE platform — co-developed with Porsche — will be used for larger car, but also smaller ones as well, which could include high volume models currently served by the Volkswagen MEB electric car platform.
The A6 Avant e-tron concept makes Audi the first German automaker to confirm an electric estate car in the company car class (a important market segment in Germany). There are rumors of a BMW i5 Touring, but Electrive says there are no plans for an e-wagon from Mercedes, which has been a leading maker of wagons for decades.
Whether you call it a station wagon, an estate car, or a shooting brake, long roof versions of sedans with more room for cargo have always had an allure to certain drivers. They have an essence, a je ne sais quoi, that speaks to people. They are not gargantuan behemoths like an Escalade or an Excursion, nor are they 2-seater sports cars like a Corvette or a Miata. They are Goldilocks cars –not too big, not too small, just right.
The Chevrolet Nomad was the first really sexy wagon. The Beach Boys captured the essence of these vehicles in a song that paid tribute to the legendary Pontiac Bonneville wagon: “We’re loadin’ the Bonnie with the boards inside and headin’ out singin’ our song.” Hitting the highway in search of adventure is what driving a wagon is all about. The Audi A6 Avant e-tron will be a welcome continuation of that tradition.
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