Audi is singlehandedly on a mission to make station wagons cool again, first with the blazing-fast RS6 Avant, and now with this stunning all-electric A6 Avant e-tron concept. Behold, the battery-powered station wagon of our dreams. Of course, if you ask us, station wagons have always been cool. Even Chevy Chase’s wood-panelled Wagon Queen Family Truckster — from National Lampoon’s Vacation — goes pretty hard. Clearly, however, most people don’t share our love of wagons. All you have to do is look at the sales charts to see the vast majority of drivers — over 80 per cent — are buying SUVs and pickups, instead of wagons or anything else.
The wagon is presently in danger of going the way of the minivan, but not if Audi has something to say about it.
The German brand unveiled the A6 Avant e-tron concept earlier this week. While most concepts are mere flights on fancy, this one seems like it could become real.
“With the Audi A6 Avant e-tron concept, we are offering a completely tangible look at future production models on our new PPE technology platform,” says Audi board member Oliver Hoffmann.
The platform, by the way, is pretty spectacular. It’s what allowed Audi to get an estimated 700 kilometres of driving-range (on the admittedly generous WLTP cycle) out of the Avant. Perhaps even more impressive is the ultra-fast 800-volt charging capability, which means you could absolutely take an extended National Lampoon-style family vacation in this machine. Covering long distances wouldn’t be an issue since the car could regain 300 km of range in just 10 minutes plugged in to a suitable charging station. A 25-minute charge will juice the 100 kWh battery from 5 to 80 percent.
Acceleration is nearly as speedy as charging too; in less than four seconds the Audi will zip from a standstill to 100 km/h.
Getting 700 km of range into a mid-size car is no small feat. Audi chalks that up to careful design work, which ensures the car can slip through the air with minimal aerodynamic drag and maximum efficiency. The other benefit is, well, the Avant looks great.
“Its lines and elegant proportions anticipate future Audi production models and offer clues about how dynamic and elegant the electrically-powered luxury class from the brand with the four rings will look,” according to the company. In other words, feast your eyes because future Audis are going to look a lot like this. It’s particularly impressive how low the roofline is. Normally, since EVs have the battery under the floor, that pushes the whole car up, making it taller. Audi’s new PPE platform, however, seems to allow designers the freedom to cram a huge battery under the floor while still keeping the roofline nice and low. The Avant e-tron is no taller than the current gas-powered A6 sedan.
“Avant,” by the way, is Audi-speak for station wagon. It’s a term that dates back to 1995, and the very first A4 Avant. More recently it’s been used on the 2022 RS6 Avant, a slightly unhinged $125,500 luxury express with nearly 600 horsepower and ample space for the whole family. (It’s one of our favourite cars, natch.)
Of course, no spiffy concept would be worthy of the title without at least one strange space-age feature, and Audi has delivered. If you happen to find yourself parking in front of wall while recharging the battery, drivers or their passengers can play video-games projected onto said wall by the car’s lights. “Instead of on a small screen in the cockpit, they’ll see their current game’s virtual landscapes projected onto the wall in XXL format — and all this via the Digital Matrix LED headlights,” according to the company. The car recharges so fast you won’t have much time to get bored, but it’s nice to know you could play Tetris or something on the side of a building while you wait.
The Avant e-tron concept would make a compelling addition to Audi’s burgeoning EV lineup. As we’ve covered previously, of all the established luxury car brands, Audi has emerged as an unlikely front-runner in the global race to go electric. The firm’s current EV lineup in Canada includes the flagship Audi e-tron GT electric sedan, the high-performance RS e-tron GT, as well as the company’s original e-tron SUV and sleek e-tron Sportback. The compact Q4 e-tron SUV, and the Q4 Sportback e-tron — which, it must be said, look spectacular and are also built on a dedicated EV platform — are supposed to land in Canadian showrooms later this year. With all the major car companies now taking EVs seriously, Audi would appear to have a healthy head start on its rivals.