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The Audi e-tron Sportback lights the way forward

The steady march of EVs continues – and Audi’s new e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro is certainly helping to light the way

I would like to hangout with the guys at the Audi lighting department. Seriously. I don’t know what they’re on, but I want some of it.

They really know how to add theatre to proceedings.

Take the new Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro. When you click to unlock it, the familiar double flash of the indicators is rapidly followed by an expanding beam of red from the taillight.

It emanates first from the centre extending outwards until it wraps around the fenders finishing in perpendicular ends.

Lock the car, and the beam duly retracts into a singular central point before blipping out. There’s just a bit of Knight Rider about it – and that is no bad thing.

At the front, you have digital matrix LED headlights – these are available for the first time in a mass-production vehicle.

The new Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro's digital matrix LED headlights

Boasting one million pixels, they pack plenty of party tricks.

For example, they can project a carpet of light onto the motorway lane in front of you complete with two rows of overlaid chevrons; these stay within the white lines of your lane, and curve with the topography of the road.

The car can even beam pre-loaded graphics onto your garage wall when you start up or switch off.

Inside, the show continues with wrap-around interior lighting that’s e-tron by name but Tron by nature. Select the Caribbean blue setting and the car’s lit up like a prop straight out of Tron: Legacy.

Even the seat belt buckles are illuminated – this isn’t a gimmick; it makes them quick and easy to find in the dark. The E-Tron-branded dashboard and puddle lights complete the look.

It all helps remind you that you’re about to drive something a little bit special…

The new Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro

The lowdown

Light shows aside, the e-tron is not futuristic for the sake of it.

When Audi made its first foray into the electric arena with the original e-tron in early 2019, it was offering its customers a gentle landing.

With the exception of the optional virtual wing mirrors, it’s still very much an Audi of the present; the perfect car for someone who knows we need to change, but doesn’t like too much change all at once. So, most of us, then.

Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro

The looks

The new Sportback has a lower-slung, coupé-like roofline, the designers taking a plane to the original e-tron SUV block. While they were at it, they’ve made the bumpers more aggressive too, helping the Sportback live up to its moniker.

It also boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.25Cd, which beats its closest competitor – the Jaguar iPace – by enough of a margin to make you think twice. Not only does this aid with speed and acceleration, but it also helps battery life.

Inside, the trim is sophisticated and stylish, the sweeping haptic screens a joy to use once you’ve figured out how to navigate around them.

I’m still yet to be convinced by the virtual wing mirrors, though – which use cameras to project a live video feed onto the doors panels inside. It just involves too much of a brain retrain for my liking. And personally, I can think of better things I’d rather do with £1,250.

Audi e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro.

The drive

It’s quick, but not enough to make your nose bleed. Zero-60mph in boost mode is a lively 5.7 seconds. Respectable for a car of this size. It feels tight in the corners despite its weight – a lower centre of gravity helps (ironically) raise the bar from the original E-tron.

It still feels heavy, though – there’s no way to escape those batteries completely.

Speaking of which, range is an impressive 277.1 miles. I wouldn’t necessarily rely on that 0.1 mile to get you home, though. Especially if you have a penchant for using the boost mode.

Ultimately, it feels silky smooth, and wonderfully quiet. It’s the kind of luxury drive you’d expect from any top-tier Audi without an R badge. And, of course, it comes with the added green card – a battery full of eco smugness.

The electric car revolution is only just beginning. But with the e-tron, Audi can certainly say it’s done its bit to get the wheels turning.

Next up is Audi’s e-tron GT. I can’t wait to see what the lights do on that one.

For more information, see audi.co.uk

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