Innovative 2025 SQ6 E-Tron illuminates the path forward for Audi

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By Car Brand Experts


  • 2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron will be available for purchase in November at a cost approximately $15,000 lower than the Porsche Macan EV
  • Audi’s cutting-edge PPE framework boasts more effective and potent motors compared to other SUV E-Trons
  • SQ6 E-Tron enjoys the benefits of an optional air suspension system with adaptable dampers

Beneath the ancient cobblestone roads of San Sebastian, Spain’s historic district lies an underground parking garage—an unexpected setting to delve into the state-of-the-art technology that underlies Audi’s revolutionary electric vehicle platform. Amidst sturdy concrete pillars reminiscent of a medieval basilica, narrow parking spaces fit for a compact Lancia hatchback, and convoluted exits that force even moped riders to proceed single-file, the new 2025 Audi Q6 E-Tron SUV stood out like…an American.

Out of place amidst the backdrop of this Bay of Biscay coastal town, originating centuries before the advent of internal combustion engines or electricity, the technological marvel showcased by Audi proved its ability to coexist with the antiquated world as modern civilization hurtles inevitably into the future.

With its side mirrors elegantly retracted, parking sensors emitting electronic wails, and front as well as rear camera projections illuminating the 14.9-inch touchscreen display, I was assured that, with some maneuvering, I could easily navigate back to the designated Audi route without complications.

At nearly 188 inches in length, the fresh 2025 SQ6 and Q6 models extend considerably beyond the standard dimensions of urban European cities. Nonetheless, upon their arrival in November, these midsize crossover SUVs will nestle snugly in North America’s preeminent luxury car market segment. While manufactured and tested in Europe, this contemporary SUV casts a broad American appeal, with the German automaker selling around 40% of its global vehicle inventory in the United States.

It comes as no surprise that this five-seater crossover SUV rivals the popular Tesla Model Y. However, its superior construction quality and poise propel it leaps ahead of Tesla, particularly in terms of in-car technological advancements.

2025 Audi Q6 E-Tron
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2025 Audi Q6 E-Tron

Insight into Audi Q6 and the PPE (Premium Platform Electric)

Revolutionizing the automotive landscape, the new Q6 makes use of Audi’s revolutionary PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture. This platform not only serves as the underpinning for the associated Porsche Macan EV but will also be integrated into the RS Q6 and the A6 electric sedan scheduled for release in the upcoming year. (Editorial note: Audi’s nomenclature strategy indicates that even-numbered models herald the era of battery electric vehicles, while the odd-numbered models will continue to employ internal combustion engines.)

To power a plethora of forthcoming vehicles based on the PPE platform, a standard dual-motor all-wheel-drive system will be employed. Venturing through the undulating roads of the Basque Country in northern Spain convinced me of the remarkable blend of power, efficiency, and comfort offered by these vehicles, overshadowing the lackluster performance of the Q4 E-Tron and Q8 E-Tron models.

Enhancing performance, Audi incorporates a 140-kilowatt induction motor on the front axle to facilitate acceleration and supplement high power demands. Meanwhile, during cruising, this motor virtually decouples, permitting the 280-kilowatt permanent magnet synchronous motor at the rear to assume the primary propulsion duties. The compact motor design not only reduces weight but also occupies around 30% less installation space compared to the motors utilized in the Q4 and Q8 models. This latest motor iteration excels in efficiency, boasting approximately half of the frictional losses compared to its predecessors.

Attesting to the efficiency of the platform, the Q6’s weight remains controlled at roughly 5,300 pounds. While slightly heavier than a Q7 by 300 pounds, it surpasses the larger Q8 E-Tron by approximately 500 pounds in terms of weight. Clearly, the second-generation electric platform has successfully shed unnecessary weight.

Boasting a power output of up to 456 horsepower and a swift 0-60 mph acceleration time of 4.9 seconds, the Q6 E-Tron is undeniably powerful. In comparison, the SQ6 E-Tron surges ahead with up to 509 horsepower and a remarkable 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds. Breaking down the torque figures, the induction motor delivers 203 lb-ft, while the rear motor churns out a formidable 428 lb-ft.

While both models feature launch control—a simple press on the brake, followed by rapid acceleration while releasing the brake—the SQ6 delivers a more seamless power surge. The acceleration is immediate and anticipated, rather than abrupt. Five distinct drive modes infuse a spectrum of subtleties into the driving experience. Notably, the Dynamic mode offers a firm pedal response in contrast to the softer feedback experienced in Efficiency mode, with each mode influencing the steering response accordingly.

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron
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2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron

A remarkable enhancement in the SQ6 is the novel steering mechanism connected to the subframe. Manufactured with fewer rubber components and minimal elasticity, this system establishes a more direct connection with the road. Maneuvering through the tight confines of the parking garage, I could sense heightened resistance, aiding in precise navigation within the confined space. Similarly, while traversing the curving roads, slight steering inputs translated into substantial feedback.

The varied drive modes also influence the optional suspension setup. While both models will initially feature steel springs and passive dampers within a five-link independent suspension system, the Q6 and SQ6 variants I tested were equipped with adjustable adaptive dampers and an air suspension mechanism capable of modifying the ride height by up to 2.5 inches.

Presently, specific ground clearance data for U.S. specifications isn’t available, though the observed clearance appears to be less than eight inches. The off-road mode raises the clearance by approximately 1.3 inches, suitable for maneuvering through muddy terrains on access roads. In contrast, Efficiency mode lowers the clearance by 1.2 inches from Comfort mode, optimizing cruising efficiency. Dynamic mode reduces the clearance by 0.8 inch, while Individual mode offers flexibility in tailoring various settings, including silencing artificial noises and adjusting safety protocols.

Equipped with robust antiroll bars and reinforced sidewalls on its 285/40R21 summer tires, the SQ6 endures minimal body roll during turns compared to the Q6, showcasing superior agility despite its 5,300-pound curb weight might recommend. Audi also equips 6-piston calipers for enhanced grip on the front brakes, but typically, the Q6 versions do not rely heavily on the conventional brakes for stopping.

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Latest regenerative braking system by Audi

Audi indicates that in the Q6 models, 95% of the braking is taken care of by the motors, which can capture up to 0.25 g of deceleration. Even when braking, both motors work together to slow down the vehicle before the conventional brakes come into play. Audi offers a selection of five regen brake setups catering to a broad audience of potential EV users. My preference leans towards the “B” mode in the gear selector console, enabling a style of driving where stopping involves delicately handling the accelerator. Once stopped, there is no forward creep.

My companion was not fond of its sudden stops. We experimented with the paddle shifters which adjust braking at three levels, with the lowest mimicking a coasting mode similar to that in a gasoline car. In this mode, my companion remarked on the gradual response of the pedal initially and its abruptness around halfway through. I found it predictable enough, although it may require some getting used to. Most drivers will likely settle on their preferred setting among the four options or opt for the Auto mode which adjusts regen braking based on input from the camera system monitoring the road and traffic ahead.

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Battery pack and architecture of the Audi Q6

The SQ6 handles more akin to a wagon than an SUV due to the low-positioned 100-kwh battery pack comprised of 12 sets of 15 prismatic cells each. It is situated 5.9 inches high in the flat floor between the axles, and the high-energy nickel-cobalt-manganese lithium-ion battery cells are optimized for an effective 94.4 kwh, leaving no performance untapped by Audi.

The PPE’s 800-volt system accommodates a DC fast charge of up to 270 kw, provided a public charging station can deliver at that rate. While we have not conducted a charging session, Audi estimates a 10-80% state-of-charge can be achieved in 21 minutes, or the first 10 minutes of charging at such a rate could replenish almost 135 miles of range swiftly.

Owners can utilize Plug & Charge at Electrify America stations, enabling automatic connection to your account without the need for card swiping. Even at an EA station with a 135 kw rating, the 800-volt charging system effectively divides into dual 400-volt circuits to charge simultaneously within 35 minutes.

At home, connected to a 40-amp 240-volt AC circuit, the Q6 E-Tron’s 9.6-kw onboard charger tops up the battery within approximately 10 hours. Audi plans to introduce a 19.2-kw onboard charger later, promising a 50% reduction in home charging time when linked to an 80-amp, 240-volt circuit.

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron
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2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron
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2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron
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2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron

Enhanced digital interface with ChatGPT-powered voice commands in the Audi Q6

The advanced technology beneath the surface of the Audi Q6 and SQ6 is indicated by the array of screens on the dashboard and the illuminating display surrounding it. Unfortunately, the North American market will not receive the eight customizable headlight and taillight designs that offer unique features like pulsing indicator lights in a sequence.

The Q6 boasts a 14.5-inch touchscreen, accompanying an 11.9-inch digital gauge display, all running Audi’s cutting-edge infotainment system. An additional 10.9-inch touchscreen intended for the passenger, positioned out of the driver’s sight, allows for navigation assistance. The integration of this feature into the dashboard is less intrusive compared to many luxury competitors (e.g., Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen).

Although Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, the voice recognition system now benefits from ChatGPT which can handle about 800 vehicle commands (e.g., “Lower the passenger window”) and even engage in answering general questions such as, “Where can I find the best pintxos place around here?”

During our brief testing in a German car traversing Spanish roads and attended by Americans, the results were predictably mixed. Nonetheless, the transition away from touch-only interfaces was well-received. Notably, the system can discern between the driver and passenger during conversations and can prevent the passenger from disrupting lane control. If only we could apply the same logic togone in the backseat.

The majority of the indoor light spectacle combined visual amazement with safety features. An array of 84 LEDs positioned along the dashboard at the base of the windshield provided directional hints as turns approached. For instance, its right segment glowed green when a right turn was imminent. This feature was subtle yet beneficial, particularly for those who opt to disable voice prompts and wear polarized sunglasses that may dim the clarity of the head-up display.

Included driver assistance and safety technologies comprise automatic emergency braking with detection of pedestrians and cyclists at both the front and back, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, a driver monitoring system, and a reminder for rear occupants. While it may seem overwhelming to manage, most configurations can be modified and it only takes a couple of hours to become accustomed to them.

One of the notable optional features was the enhanced Bang & Olufsen sound system featuring four speakers integrated into the front headrests. When navigation prompts were active, they played through the driver’s headrest speakers without disrupting the music for the other passengers.

Porsche Macan EV
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Porsche Macan EV

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron, left, Q6 E-Tron, right
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2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron, left, Q6 E-Tron, right

The $15,000 SQ6 inquiry

Inquiries persist, particularly regarding the cost. Representatives from Audi stated that the 2025 Q6 would be priced approximately $15,000 lower than the $82,000 Porsche Macan EV. Given that other SQ SUV variants are priced anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 higher than the base model, it’s probable that the SQ6 will come in slightly above the base Macan EV. Without price details, it’s challenging to recommend either the Q6 or the SQ6 E-Trons.

What is definite is that the Q6 E-Tron, the SQ6 E-Tron, and the PPE platform signify a progressive advancement for the brand’s electric vehicles. The SQ6 E-Tron represents Audi’s top-selling volume electric car here (excluding the GT E-Tron), rendering the Q4 E-Tron and to a lesser degree the Q8 E-Tron akin to USB-A in a USB-C era. The fresh Q6 E-Tron is a genuine luxury electric SUV that paves the way ahead, even in challenging environments.

Audi covered air travel and accommodation expenses for Motor Authority to deliver this report firsthand.

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