Audi is backing up its goal of dominating the premium electric vehicle segment by 2020 with a new e-tron prototype. This plug-in hybrid, based on the A5 Coupe, is packed with all the technological wizardry you would expect of a premium-segment prototype, and even has some features you might not expect, like the 'through-the-road' drivetrain setup that takes advantage of the large plug-in battery to power all four wheels.
At the front axle, the drivetrain has a conventional power-split hybrid setup, consisting of a compact 33 kilowatt (45 hp) electric motor and 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged gas engine. The engine alone packs 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Moving to the back of the car is where things get interesting. Ditching a conventionally heavy all-wheel-drive setup, the A5 e-tron's rear wheels are powered by a 60 kW (81 hp) electric motor, and there is nothing physically linking the front and rear axles.
As other companies, like Peugeot, know, a through-the-road setup helps to reduce weight, and with the generous use of carbon fiber and aluminum, the prototype tips the scales at no more than a production A5 Quattro that uses the same gas engine. With a 40-mile electric only range and the ability to cruise in EV mode at speeds up to 62 miles per hour, we think Audi may have a winner here. The company just needs to bring the car into production (before 2020, please).