If you blinked you may have missed a few underlying themes for Audi at the Shanghai Motor Show this past weekend. While cars like the “normal”-back long-wheelbase A7L and the Sportback configured A6 e-tron took all the headlines, Audi quietly revealed a second concept car and may have tipped even more of its model positioning with that China-only A7L.
That Auto Shanghai is happening at all is kind of a big deal. When the COVID-19 curtain dropped on the world in the spring of 2020, it unceremoniously halted the car show industry. With booths already partially assembled, Geneva pulled the plug on their event. New York followed, and so too did pretty much everything else like a row of dominos.
With vaccinations now happening and an incredible seemingly multi-national wish to just move on, Auto Shanghai has marked the first stage to be offered for a traditional auto show return. And return they did, including Audi with several concepts and the typical made-for-China only long-wheelbase models so often produced domestically in China with partners FAW and SAIC.
The biggest headlines came from the Audi A6 e-tron. While A6 may be a familiar name, the underpinnings of the A6 are all-new, the first showing of the so-called modular “PPE” architecture co-developed by Audi and Porsche. Audi confirmed to use that while the A6 e-tron may include some concept car flourishes like slightly lower roofline, wider haunches and an utter lack of real world kit like door handles and rearview mirrors, it fully expects to bring the A6 e-tron and its 400+ mile range to market within two years. Impressive.
During our pre-show information gathering session, Audi also mentioned a new crossover model similarly PPE based and set to be dubbed “Q6”. Not surprisingly, this Q6 e-tron crossover may very well beat the A6 e-tron to market. Surprisingly, it won’t replace the e-tron and e-tron Sportback models already on sale.
Also surprising, Audi likely shared a much more production-looking prototype dubbed “Audi concept Shanghai”. Local reports suggest this crossover is based on the same MEB architecture used for the recently introduced Q4 e-tron, but it’s also possible it could be the Q6 in much more production-ready detail than the A6 e-tron and wrapped in livery-inspired disguise that Audi is fond of using for teasing upcoming production models.
The e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT were also on the Audi stand in Shanghai, marking the first auto show to feature the Audi 4-door electric gran turismo that shares the same J1 architecture as the Porsche Taycan. Audi USA has already confirmed it’ll creatively make the U.S. public debut of the e-tron GT at Malibu Cars and Coffee this coming weekend. Auto Shows in America still aren’t on again.
The other most notable launch at Shanghai was the Chinese-market only A7L. For this long-wheelbase variant, Audi dropped the Sportback configuration for a traditional trunk. That’s more than just a longer wheelbase as is the “L” variant formula in China, which could have been done for structural rigidity needs, but also could have been chosen to harken the future of the A7 model.
There’ve been rumors that Audi will centralize electric models under even numerals and its ICE cars presumably under odd numerals. If the A6 is to become electric, and Audi did confirm gas equivalents will be sold alongside, does that mean the A7 range will expand to include sedan and Avant versions? Thus far we don’t have any information on such a change and the even/odd strategy has been the stuff of car magazine rumor stories, but it’s quite possible Audi could go this route eventually.
Check out more photos we’ve been able to collect from Auto Shanghai in our gallery below.