Audi Q6 e-tron first drive: a premium SUV that's stuffed with tech

Plugging the gap between the Q4 and the Q8 comes the Audi Q6 e-tron

Audi Q6 e-tron
(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

The mid-sized electric SUV category is perhaps the most competitive, with the likes of Tesla Model Y, the BMW iX3 and the Ford Mustang Mach-E, all making a great case for themselves. The Audi Q6 e-tron launches into the middle of this pack, between the existing Audi Q4 e-tron and the recently-updated Audi Q8 e-tron.

Sitting on the same platform as the Porsche Macan EV, the Audi Q6 e-tron wants to offer it all: long range, a superior level of comfort and trim, while also delivering the driving dynamics to make it stand out. I got to put the new electric Audi through its paces in the Basque region of northern Spain and found this car to be full of small moments of delight.

Audi Q6 e-tron

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

How much does the Audi Q6 e-tron cost?

Before we dive into what this car actually offers, it's worth looking at how much this car is going to set you back. At launch, there are two versions - the Q6 e-tron and the SQ6 e-tron. There are a number of trims - Sport, S line and Edition 1 - for the regular Q6 e-tron, while the performance SQ6 e-tron will arrive in the Edition 1 initially.

The starting price for the Q6 e-tron Sport is just under £70,000; the price for the more powerful SQ6 e-tron is an eye-watering £92,950, so this is a model that's firmly lodged in the premium category. By way of comparison, the Porsche Macan 4 Electric is £68,800 (some £175 cheaper) at the entry level, making an interesting point of comparison between these sibling models.

That makes the Audi considerably more than the Tesla Model Y, while only being a little more expensive than BMW's iX3.

Audi Q6 e-tron

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

A new techy interior design for Audi

From the exterior the Audi Q6 e-tron is closely related to the Q4 e-tron, particularly when it comes to the front of the car. The design around the grille looks the same - especially when you catch sight of it in the rear-view mirror. From the back, the Q6 adopts a light bar similar to the excellent Audi e-tron GT. Audi, wanting to add a dash of tech to pretty much all aspects of this car, will let you change the light signature when you turn the car on, for an added dab of personalisation, with eight different options.

The exterior design is unmistakably Audi. It looks like an Audi, it sounds like an Audi and it drives like an Audi. At a surface level, that might suggest that this is a car that won't surprise you, but dig a little deeper and it will.

Step into the interior and you're greeted by something fresh and new, with some losses and some gains. First and foremost, this is a spacious interior, plenty of headroom for front and rear passengers, as well as shoulder and knee space. There's a 526-litre boot and 64-litre "frunk", meaning there's plenty of storage for long weekends away with the family.

But it's the driver who really gets the lion's share of the changes. There's now a panoramic MMI display, wrapping across the dash, giving the driver a 11.9-inch OLED display for the dials, and a 14.5-inch OLED main display in the centre of the car. It looks great, putting all the information at the fingertips of the driver.

Audi Q6 e-tron

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

This is a slight change to the arrangement that Audi has used for the past decade. The Virtual Cockpit - which offered full-screen mapping on the driver display - is no longer there, with the driver display now being more conventional. This is backed up with an augmented reality heads-up display, that will indicate which exit you're heading to. I found this really useful driving around unfamiliar roads in Spain, because there's no need to take your eyes off the road - all the information is there, appearing magically in your field of view.

The front passenger isn't left out of the action, as there's a 10.9-inch OLED display for the passenger too (optional), fitted with a screen filter, so it doesn't distract the driver. That will allow the passenger to access apps, examine the map and follow the route, as well, so they're not always having to mess around with the main display.

Interestingly, this new display is powered by Android Automotive, giving access to major apps for services like Spotify, with Alexa available, as well as Audi's own voice assistant that incorporates ChatGPT. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly from your phone, but just be aware that if you use either of those then you won't get the augmented reality navigation.

Audi Q6 e-tron Android Auto

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

This more substantial display offering means that the space under the dash is a little clearer. In the past you'd often find the display, physical climate controls and other buttons in this area, but there's been a reduction of buttons overall. That means that the aircon is now controlled through the same touchscreen in the centre of the car.

These controls are permanently on display, so I had no problem tapping them when I wanted to make a change. Some will mourn the loss of direct control buttons in some areas and this seems to be one of the biggest debates in modern cars at the moment - just how many buttons should there be?

The steering wheel, however, has plenty of controls, all sitting on a clicky touchpad, which is cleaner than individual buttons, but takes a little getting used to. The same is true of the controls on the driver's door. These cover things like mirror controls, child locks, and some of the light controls, and the whole things is a single clicky pad, which feels a little odd.

Audi Q6 e-tron

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

Performance, range and driving impressions

I drove both models of the Q6 e-tron, and both at launch are all-wheel drive, so have a dual motor configuration. There will be a single motor rear-wheel drive version announced in the future. These motors are now Audi's own design so are really sophisticated, while being 30% more compact and 20% lighter than previous motors making them more efficient.

At launch, all models also have the same 100kWh battery with an 800V system. Again, there will be smaller battery version announced in the future, which will bring a lower range and lower entry point for the Q6 e-tron.

Starting with the battery, 100kWh is capacious. That fits with the positioning of this model and the high price. It also supports 270kW charging, which is really fast - you'll be able to get from 10-80% charge in 21 minutes, or 158 miles of range in just 10 minutes on a fast charger.

Here's how the performance specs compare for the models. Note that for the regular Audi Q6 e-tron, this is on the Sport trim.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Power0-62mphRange
Audi Q6 e-tron388PS5.9 seconds381 miles
Audi SQ6 e-tron490PS4.3 seconds357 miles

Those figures are impressive and on my test drive, which was a mixture of motorways and winding hilly roads, I tested all the different drive modes and found that I had achieved an average of 3 miles per kWh. That would give a real-world range of around 285 miles. The range you achieve will be affected by many factors and I wasn't trying to conserve energy at any point, so on first impression, I think this is reasonable performance - in urban driving with more regen, I'd expect to get better performance.

Of course, what's more impressive is that the regular Q6 e-tron is fast. That 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds in a 2.4-tonne SUV feels effortless. For the SQ6 e-tron, you'll have to use launch control to achieve that 4.3-second figure, but I suspect that many will be more than happy with the performance of the normal model. Rumour has it that there could be an RS model in the future too, if you need even more power.

I certainly found that the Audi didn't hesitate to accelerate up hills, the quattro system providing the assured grip in fast mountain corners, while the air suspension on my review model kept body roll to a minimum, smoothing out any broken road surfaces I encountered.

Take the Audi Q6 e-tron onto the motorway and it's quiet and refined, with driver assistance to keep you safe and heading in the right direction. I found the lane keep assistant to be a little too aggressive, but you do get the option to turn off anything you don't want.

Audi wanted the Q6 e-tron to offer a fun and dynamic drive and it really is. Yes, it's built on the same platform as Porsche's latest electric SUV which also a great performer. In this regard, you're spoilt for choice: they really are cracking electric cars to drive.

Audi Q6 e-tron

(Image credit: Future / Chris Hall)

Should I buy an Audi Q6 e-tron?

There's a duality to the Audi Q6 e-tron: on one hand it's all the Audi that you expect it to be. It looks like an Audi, it's priced like an Audi and it drives like an Audi. But on the other hand, there are a lot of nice touches on this model - the new curved display, the AR heads-up display - it's the little details that make it stand apart. It's a technology load-out that's hard to argue with, especially when you consider that there's a Bang & Olufsen sound system offering 850W too.

It's a premium SUV, but arguably some parts of the interior - like the blank switch cover next to the door handle, or the soft touch materials on the tops of the doors, doesn't quite feel like Audi's best. The Mercedes EQE SUV or BMW iX3 might pip it to the post here. But the drive is delightful and the launch models with the quattro system are hugely fun with really confident handling. If driving experience is what you're after, then Audi's offering is compelling.

The good news is that if the price seems a little high then the rear-wheel drive option will be along soon to bring that price down, while there will be a sloped-rear version (Sportback) for those who prefer a coupe style launching soon too.

The Audi Q6 e-tron neatly plugs the gap between the Q4 and the Q8, meaning that Audi has electric SUVs in three sizes, one of the few manufacturers currently in that position. You're sure to see a lot of these on the road once deliveries start in August.

Chris Hall

Chris has been writing about consumer tech for over 15 years. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Pocket-lint, he's covered just about every product launched, witnessed the birth of Android, the evolution of 5G, and the drive towards electric cars. You name it and Chris has written about it, driven it or reviewed it. Now working as a freelance technology expert, Chris' experience sees him covering all aspects of smartphones, smart homes and anything else connected. Chris has been published in titles as diverse as Computer Active and Autocar, and regularly appears on BBC News, BBC Radio, Sky, Monocle and Times Radio. He was once even on The Apprentice... but we don't talk about that.