Spy Shots

Audi's electric E-Tron Quattro spied for first time in testing

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Last October, Audi's chairman said the company would be launching its first mainstream full electric car: the E-Tron Quattro crossover. The car was first shown in 2015 as a concept, and now we got our first glimpse of a production version in testing, thanks to one of our spy photographers. From the looks of it, it won't stray far from the concept.

Up front, the E-Tron has the same square-jawed hexagonal grille as the concept, and it's flanked by headlights similar to those of the new A8. It does differ from the concept a bit in the pattern of the grille. Instead of the odd horizontal slats, it has large vertical bars that were first shown on the Audi Q8 concept. The grille in the lower bumper is also a little larger and more simplified than the concept, and the hood vents have disappeared.

The side profile continues to draw from the E-Tron concept. It looks more like a lifted wagon than a traditional, upright crossover. The heavy use of black plastic cladding and wheel arches also is nearly identical to the concept. It should also make the E-Tron look right at home next to the A4 Allroad.

At the back, the E-Tron also retains its fairly raked rear window. There has been some simplification. It seems the full-width taillights have disappeared in favor of more conventional separate lamps. The polished aluminum faux skid plate in the rear bumper has also been traded for black plastic.

We will probably see the production version of the E-Tron within a year. Audi already confirmed that it would begin production in 2018 at a factory in Brussels, Belgium, and it will launch a new line of EVs for the company. When the concept was shown, Audi said the E-Tron would produce 429 horsepower from three electric motors and have a range of 311 miles. Audi also claimed that with a powerful enough charger, it could recharge fully in 50 minutes. There's a decent chance those numbers won't change too much. The charging capability might not be there, but the power and range would make the E-Tron Quattro a close competitor to the Tesla Model S, which gets under 300 miles of range with the 75 models, and over 300 with the Model S 100s.

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