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2025 Audi Q6 and SQ6 e

Jun 01, 2023

These SUVs are the first EVs built on the PPE platform, which features numerous innovations.

Located in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Norway, the Faroe Islands are like a different world. The mountainous landforms are covered in grasslands where sheep act as organic lawn mowers, and cascading coastal waterfalls and quaint thatched-roof houses make first-timers feel as if they've been transported into a Lord of the Rings film. The brand of the four rings brought us here to drive prototypes of the 2025 Q6 e-tron Quattro and its sportier SQ6 sibling, models that promise to take Audi EVs into their own new world.

The two SUVs are essentially electric alternatives to the gas-powered Q5 and SQ5. The Q6s have similar dimensions but shorter front and rear overhangs and a longer wheelbase. More coupelike Sportback variants will be offered too. The new EVs do more than just bridge the gap between the Q4 e-tron and the Q8 e-tron, however. They're the first Audis built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. Co-developed with Porsche, PPE will also underpin the Macan EV, and the platform's arrival starts an important new phase in the Volkswagen Group's electric future.

Specifically developed for EV models, PPE features an 800-volt architecture and uses next-generation motors. The battery, with an estimated capacity of about 93.0 kWh, has 12 modules packed with 180 prismatic-type lithium-ion cells that provide better energy density than pouch-type cells. The peak charging rate is 270 kilowatts. Audi estimates that charging from 10 to 80 percent will take under 30 minutes; it's also targeting a 155-mile refill in 10 minutes. The regular Q6 e-tron, the longest-range version, should be good for 372 miles of range on the European WLTP test cycle, or about 315 miles using EPA methodology.

The Q6 and SQ6 e-trons also debut new electric motors that are unrelated to previous versions. Designed to be modular, more efficient, and quieter, the motors feature hairpin windings and direct oil cooling for the rotor and stator, resulting in a higher power density while reducing the need for rare-earth elements. More compact and efficient than its predecessors, the asynchronous induction front motor is said to provide greater performance at less cost. The permanent-magnet synchronous rear motor is new and improved and weighs about 260 pounds. It's also the primary drive unit, with the front motor taking a more passive role until duty calls or the driver activates specific modes.

Despite the Faroes' strong Middle-earth vibes, the region has an impressive infrastructure featuring more than 300 miles of well-maintained roads and a network of undersea tunnels, including the world's first underwater roundabout. During two days of driving, our route took us through that landmark and around the southern parts of the three largest islands.

Like California's Pacific Coast Highway, the roads outlining the Faroe Islands offer breathtaking views. They're also quite narrow, with some sections shrinking to a single lane that forced oncoming traffic to yield to our convoy, which was cloaked in eye-popping colorful wraps. These traffic-jam-like moments gave us the opportunity to tinker with the Q6s' regenerative braking system, which finally offers one-pedal driving (two less forceful regenerative settings can be toggled with the steering-wheel paddles). Audi EVs previously lacked one-pedal capability, because the automaker believed most drivers couldn't use it smoothly. Evidently, Audi now has more confidence in us (or its system's tuning).

The dual-motor all-wheel-drive Q6 e-tron we drove has 375 horsepower, while the SQ6 offers 482 ponies; a Boost mode temporarily bumps peak output to 395 and 509 horses, respectively. Torque figures are not yet available. With the islands' speed limits capped at 50 mph, we had few opportunities to explore higher speeds, but in our hands, the higher-performance SQ6 definitely has better body control and more spirited acceleration than the regular Q6. Audi estimates the Q6 will scoot to 62 mph in less than six seconds, with the SQ6 needing under 4.5 ticks.

With the Q6 and SQ6 e-trons still in their pre-production stage, Audi asked us not to discuss the interior design, but we can report that the inside is like a rolling sarcophagus—as in extremely quiet. Sure, some wind noise is audible, but road noise is almost nonexistent. Switching to Dynamic mode breaks the silence with synthetic sounds that grow louder with stronger accelerator inputs. The artificial noise can be shut off for those who are annoyed by that type of thing.

We don't think anyone will complain about either Q6's ride quality, though, because both are consistently calm and controlled. The prototypes have an air-spring suspension and 21-inch wheels with higher-profile sidewalls. Of course, we'll reserve final judgment for when we can drive the production versions on the not-so-smooth roads back home. The steering has variable effort, but we'd like it to be more communicative, especially on the SQ6.

Production on the Audi Q6 and SQ6 e-tron, likely as 2025 models, won't start until next year. When they reach the streets, they'll introduce Audi's latest lighting technology. The split-headlight design includes customizable daytime running lights, and the second-generation OLED taillights have animations warning following drivers of oncoming hazards. Audi says it plans to promote adoption of this tech by other automakers in the coming years to help improve safety through vehicle-to-everything communication.

Unfortunately, any U.S.-bound model will offer light animations only while the vehicle is stopped, per current federal regulations. The Q6 and SQ6 e-tron still offer a choice of multiple lighting signatures selectable through the infotainment system or Audi's phone app. Additional designs for daytime running lights and stationary lighting animations are optional and cost extra. Along with automatic high-beams and the Matrix lighting package, they can be factory equipped or purchased on demand afterward.

The gas-powered Q5 line is currently Audi's bestseller, meaning the new Q6 and SQ6 e-trons are poised to introduce the PPE platform to the masses. With all new Audis introduced after 2025 set to be EVs, Audi is entering a whole different world.

Eric Stafford’s automobile addiction began before he could walk, and it has fueled his passion to write news, reviews, and more for Car and Driver since 2016. His aspiration growing up was to become a millionaire with a Jay Leno–like car collection. Apparently, getting rich is harder than social-media influencers make it seem, so he avoided financial success entirely to become an automotive journalist and drive new cars for a living. After earning a journalism degree at Central Michigan University and working at a daily newspaper, the years of basically burning money on failed project cars and lemon-flavored jalopies finally paid off when Car and Driver hired him. His garage currently includes a 2010 Acura RDX, a manual '97 Chevy Camaro Z/28, and a '90 Honda CRX Si.

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