When it comes to undertaking any new project, a great place to start is to visualize the plan. For our Project e-tron, the plan is to upgrade the car and keep it relatively close to factory appearance. We want to make it more visually interesting, while also making it more functional.
From the performance, tuning and modification side of the Audi owner experience comes the term “OEM plus”. For those not familiar, it comes from the perspective that the coolest look for a car is a subtle upgrading that appears as if the factory itself could have built it. This means a large focus on manufacturer parts bin components, and selective decision-making when it comes to utilizing components from the aftermarket. The magic is to create a car that will delight enthusiasts who recognize the differences, and largely go casually and even unnoticed by the rest of the world who see it as just another Audi.
Given the e-tron is new and shares little with other Audi models, this is going to be a bit of a pioneering effort. Go-to accessories such as foul weather mats, trunk liner, roof rack or hitch mount rack will all prove to make the car more prepared for day-to-day use. We’ll be delving into what’s available in that regard.
From a performance standpoint, we’re highly tempted to upgrade the wheels. In Europe, Audi offers a 21-inch alloy wheel that’s the same design as the Audi Sport wheel first seen on the RS 6 plus. We love the look and want to figure out how to make it work. That we also have a set of 22-inch SQ7 wheels left over from the Q7 we just traded makes for an even more interesting consideration. Correct-sized rubber will be needed, and we still need to verify key details like compatible offset and weight rating. This is all before you consider the additional rolling resistance of a wider and grippier summer tire. It’ll be interesting to see what that does to range.
We’d also like to lower the car. Traditionally, suspension companies like H&R and ABT Sportsline have released lowering modules for Audi models with air suspension. None of these have come out with a solution yet, but we’ve also been told we can likely adjust this in the car’s own computer system. We want to explore those options, because images of the upcoming S-variant of the e-tron testing on the Nürburgring gave us plenty of inspiration in this regard.
To picture the car, we turned to Adobe Photoshop and modified both configurator images and also some design sketches of the e-tron. Changing it to our Siam Beige paint color was easy enough.
From there, we could try some different cues. For instance, those same SQ7 wheels we have are also sold in Bronze Matte finish on the European market SQ8 TDI. While this is an unlikely decision, we were curious what the setup would look like on our e-tron and so we tried a version with that.
We also considered a version using the upcoming 2020 model year black optics package. Audi’s already offering black optics in Europe, so a trip to the German market configurator for images of those components was easy enough. Here, we paired the black optics with the gloss black versions of the same wheel that are offered on the Q8 S-line.
One nice side to using Photoshop for the rendering is the low cost. We don’t have to buy wheels, tires or other parts in order to “try them” on the car. That said, now we also have to do all of the homework of figuring out how to make it work.
With the project already rendered, we’ve now taken delivery of the e-tron. Expect first impressions in our next installment.