Audi has unveiled the e-tron prototype SUV, its official entry for this year’s E-Canonball Rally as well as a preview of the design set to be incorporated on its facelifted e-tron range and its next generation EVs.
Set to begin in Hamburg on September 23, the E-Canonball is organized in Germany, but unlike its notorious namesake, runs across just one day and one country. As a ‘rally,’ rather than a ‘race,’ the E-Canonball showcases the capabilities of purely battery-powered cars and motorcycles by mapping a route of 550-plus kilometres with only four pre-selected charging points. The e-tron prototype is one of 26 entries confirmed thus far for ‘Group 1 / Large battery vehicles’ for the fifth iteration of the event.
Dubbed “a true pioneer of e-mobility” by Audi itself, the e-tron will run in bespoke camouflage as a way of “keeping some of its secrets to itself,” a phrase that has led to speculation that the prototype’s revised design language will carry through to Audi’s next generation of ‘E-Tron’ and ‘E-Tron Sportback’ electric vehicles.
The most significant of these are likely to be a new front bumper, a new faux grille, and revised headlamp cluster as part of a mid-life facelift for both the e-tron SUV and rakish Sportback, which arrived in 2019 and 2020 respectively. This is expected to carry both models through to 2025, one year before the scheduled arrival of Audi’s new Q8 e-tron SUV.
Alongside revised styling, Audi’s e-tron range are expected to receive an updated electronics system and more efficient electric motors to extend the estimated range. A recent report from Autocar magazine in the UK, upheld by sources within Audi, suggests the e-tron 55 quattro’s current range with the 95 kWh battery – between 369 and 440 km – could be hiked to as high as 600 km.
The platform for both, meanwhile – the ‘MLB’ also currently at the base of the Porsche Macan – will remain untouched, Audi preferring to showcase its new EV-dedicated ‘PPE’ architecture, co-developed with sister brand Porsche, with both the Q8 e-tron in 2026 and the upcoming Q6 e-tron, which could land as early as next year.