Is this the future of electric sports cars?

With Audi introducing cars like the Audi Aicon, it’s pretty easy to assume that in the near future we’ll find ourselves without even having the option to take the wheel and drive on our own. Then again, with the sheer number of traffic-related fatalities each year, one could really question if we should be allowed to the freedom to drive anyway, but we’ll leave that conversation for another time. Instead, let’s look at the future of sports cars, better known as the Audi Elaine – an all-electric sports car that can drive itself but also has a wheel and pedals for guys like me who like to really get into those corners from time to time. What we’re talking about here is a muscular “SUV Coupe” that sits somewhere close to the Audi A7 in the lineup and features an all-electric drive that’s good for a 4.5-second sprint to 62 mph, a range of at least 300 miles, and it even features autonomous technology with cutting-edge processing power and comfort.

When you combine this vehicle’s capabilities along with Audi Ai, and Audi Ai Zone, you get the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to drive yourself when you wish, let the AI take over on a whim, and even get door-to-door service thanks to the car’s ability to find a parking garage or place on the street to park itself. Audi envisions a time when the car will be able to drive itself to an advanced parking garage where it can charge itself, pick up packages, and even get a good washing before finding a place to rest. At 5 O’clock when it’s time to get out of work, you’ll walk out the doors and find your Elaine waiting to take you home. Suddenly, the future doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Well, let’s take a better look at the Elaine and see what the car is all about.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Elaine.

Exterior

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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If this exterior design looks somewhat familiar, that’s because you’ve already seen a lot of the same DNA on the Audi e-Tron Sportback when it was presented back at the Shanghai Auto Show. Be that as it may, this thing still looks just as beautiful sporting a new badge. And, now that it has an official name like “Elaine” there’s a hint that this could eventually transition into a production model quite easily in the future. Maybe not with quite so much tech, but we’ll see what happens.

The unique LED matrix in the front and rear provides exceptional and high-quality lighting

With that in mind, there isn’t much new about the exterior to really talk about. The Elaine features the same hood, LED exterior lights, and muscular body lines on the side profile. The unique LED matrix in the front and rear provides exceptional and high-quality lighting. The same 23-inch wheels carry over with just the right about of rubber, while the size of the body positions the car in the same segment as the Audi A7.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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Length: 16.1 feet
Width: 6.5 feet
Height: 5.0 feet
Wheelbase: 9.6 feet

With this in mind, I would classify this thing as more of a muscular gran coupe than an “SUV coupe” as Audi has, but I think the brand is trying to play into the whole SUV craze while still bringing about something that sits much closer to the ground. So, let’s not beat around this bush. This is an electric sports sedan, not an SUV, but if it makes you feel better, go with Audi’s terminology. The plus side to all of this is that the exterior isn’t all that wild or far-fetched, and the LED technology is functional, so a production model could turn out to look just like this concept, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

Interior

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Interior
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On the inside, the Elaine is a combination of futuristic and modern that blurs the lines a bit between reality and what is to come

On the inside, the Elaine is a combination of futuristic and modern that blurs the lines a bit between reality and what is to come. Packed with high-end tech like the PIA assistant, the Elaine is able to combine data from the driver as well as information from outside sources, including the internet to help determine the best and most efficient routes. By the use of machine and AI learning, the PIA system learns about the driver and helps to manage things like navigation (suggested destinations based on your history) selection of music based on your demeanor and mood, climate control, and even parking location selection. All of this data is stored in the Audi cloud via your myAudi account, so I hope you don’t have too many privacy concerns. Of course, Audi says you can log in and delete or edit the data as you wish but it’s still not very appealing if you’re a privacy nut. On the plus side, any Audi vehicle with the PIA system will be able to recognize you upon entry and load your specific profile, so that’s a pretty cool feature if you ask me.

2015 Audi E-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Interior
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As far as interior aesthetics go, the Elaine is actually a bit more attractive than the e-Tron Quattro Concept

As far as interior aesthetics go, the Elaine is actually a bit more attractive than the e-Tron Quattro Concept (we didn’t get to see the interior of the Sportback.) While it takes a similar design styling, it’s also much closer to what you would expect to see in a production vehicle. The large infotainment display carries over, as does the digital HVAC controller, but the instrument cluster takes on a slightly different shape with the ends angled down just a bit. The instrument cluster also features a green color scheme (this may be customizable) while the letting on the infotainment screen appears red in the images we have here. Compared to the Quattro concept, the touchpad controller is moved further forward while the HVAC controller is angled more toward the driver and sits a bit higher – just like the infotainment display.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Interior
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The center console as a dip in the center providing a small opening below the armrest but is still void of any cup holder. For a car as sporty as this one, it’s also surprising to see how bland and unsupportive the seat cushions are as well. There’s almost no side support. The armrests, various parts of the door panels, the carpeting, and the side panels of the center console are all black Alcantara, so there’s a bit of an elegant touch here. The steering wheel is about as sporty as it gets. It’s a three-spoke unit with the side spokes positioned precisely at 3- and 9 O’clock while the lower spoke splits off into two spokes at the hub and comes together as one piece at the bottom of the wheel. The top and bottom of the wheel are flat while the inside of the brim gives the steering wheel a hexagonal shape. The gloss black trim on the inside of the brim is a nice touch as well, and blends in nicely with the rest of the trim inserts throughout the cabin. All told, it’s an attractive interior, and I would love to see something like this in production someday. Here’s to hoping.

Drivetrain

2017 Audi e-tron Sportback Concept Computer Renderings and Photoshop Drivetrain
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The same drivetrain that is found under the metal of the e-Tron Sportback Concept carries over to this beauty as well. That means the floor is lined with a 95-kWh battery that is enough to deliver around 310 miles of range on the NEDC scale and can be charged via a wired connection as high as 150 kW or through Audi’s wireless charging system. Three motors total, one at the front axle and two at the rear provide Audi’s Quattro AWD functionality at its finest. Total system output is 320 kW or about 429 horsepower, so we’re talking about some serious oomph from this electric sports beast. Unfortunately, we don’t have torque figures to go by, but you can imagine the number is probably ridiculous, and if you go into boost mode, those 429 ponies jump up to 496 ponies for a short period of time. Of course, that’ll cost you a bit of range, but it’ll be fun to show that Tesla Model S what’s up, right?

Total system output is 320 kW or about 429 horsepower, so we’re talking about some serious oomph from this electric sports beast.

As far as performance goes, top speed remains a mystery, but I’m sure Audi would cap it off at 155 mph like every other German automaker. It does claim that it can hit 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, so we’re talking about a pretty fast sprint down the straightaway. And, since it’s all-electric, the chances are that the right option of menu selections will let you temporarily disable the front motor so that you can play a little bit in RWD. Well, we certainly hope so anyway. With a new-gen AI processor built into the vehicle, the Elaine is also capable of autonomous highway piloting, which means it can maintain its own lane, change lanes, and adapt to traffic at speeds between 37.3 and 80.8 mph. Meanwhile, you can take control at any time, so you don’t have to worry about AI trying to kill you just yet.

For now, that’s all we know about the drivetrain, and it’s not really anything new form the last time Audi debuted this setup in the e-Tron Sportback Concept, but if this thing does find its way into production, I’m sure we’ll get to hear all about the specs we care so much about.

Conclusion

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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Normally, I have to bash manufacturers for taking a few too many liberties in their futuristic concepts, bringing forth make-believe technologies or reaching just too far beyond the realm of possibility. But, in the case of the Elaine – and even the Aicon, for that matter – Audi is bringing about a future vision that isn’t only possible but highly feasible in just a matter of years. Sure it may take more than a few years to get all of the car-to-X and car-to-car networking to operate properly, but outside of that connectivity, everything else you see in the concept, including the electric drive, and all of the other technology could, in theory, go into production tomorrow as long as Audi could prove that it was reliable enough to justify doing so.

Audi could bring a production version of this to market as early as 2020 if it really wanted to push the envelope

That, and certain things, like those side-view cameras, still haven’t passed regulatory approval here in the States, so there’s that to keep in mind as well. Either way, Audi could bring a production version of this to market as early as 2020 if it really wanted to push the envelope. And, I say do it. Why not? The world needs someone to lead the way to an autonomous future that is possible and doesn’t take away our freedom of grabbing the wheel every now and then. Here I am praising an electric car… just what the hell is wrong with me?

What do you guys think about the Elaine? Would you be happy to call this baby yours? What do you think of the design inside and out? Would you be satisfied with the power output and range? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • * Seats could have more support
    • * Kind of lazy when you consider it’s basically an e-Tron Sportback
    • * I can’t have one yet

References

Audi e-tron Sportback concept

2017 Audi e-tron Sportback Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the Audi e-tron Sportback concept

Audi Aicon

Audi Looks To Our Autonomous EV Future With Aicon Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Audi Aicon.

Audi A7

2017 Audi A7 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Audi A7.

Press release

A familiar face – The exterior of the Audi Elaine concept car debuted just a few months ago. In May 2017, Audi presented the celebrated Audi e-tron Sportback design study and technology demonstrator at Auto Shanghai in China. The IAA debutant shares its body line, electric drive and not least its distinctive exterior lighting with the precursor to the second production electric car from Audi.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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23-inch wheels in a technical 6-spoke design highlight the confident presence of the SUV coupe. An exterior length of 4.90 meters (16.1 ft), a width of 1.98 meters (6.5 ft) and a height of 1.53 meters (5.0 ft) with a wheelbase of 2.93 meters (9.6 ft) position the Audi Elaine in the C segment, close to the Audi A7. The interior is bright and designed for simplicity. Functions are clearly structured, the number of control elements vastly reduced.

Expansive touchscreens below the central display, on the center console and in the door trims supply information and interact with the on-board systems. Horizontal surfaces on the dashboard and the seemingly floating center console convey a sense of open perspectives for the four passengers in their individual seats.

The concept car’s lighting technology is an innovation that is visible by both day and night. Digitally controlled Matrix LED units at the front and rear produce an excellent light yield. Minuscule Digital Matrix projectors literally make their mark on the road ahead, turning light into a versatile, dynamic channel of communication with the surroundings. Other road users can also be informed of the various driving modes, such as when the vehicle is driving autonomously. The Audi Elaine uses animated LED fields to greet passengers individually when they enter or exit the vehicle.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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For its drive, the Audi Elaine uses a configuration that Audi will use in future production models with all-electric drive: One electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear power all four wheels, transforming the high-performance coupé into a quattro in typical Audi style. 320 kilowatts of power – which can even reach 370 kW in the boost mode – provide a fitting level of propulsion. Elaine sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in just 4.5 seconds. With the battery’s energy content of 95 kilowatt-hours, its range is in excess of 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) (NEDC). There are two options for charging the battery: a wired fast charging function at 150 kW or wireless charging via the Audi Wireless Charging system.

automated with Audi AI

Setting the Audi Elaine apart from the Shanghai show car are numerous functions that push the envelope for piloted driving and assistance systems, and in a few years will also extend the scope of Audi AI in production models. The foundation is provided by a much more advanced zFAS controller installed in the rear.

The new generation processor has more computing power and refined sensors with even greater range and precision. The Audi Elaine can therefore serve its owner as a highway pilot, relieving the burden on the driver over extended distances. The highway pilot is an extension of the traffic jam pilot in the A8 and allows piloted driving at speeds from 60 to 130 km/h (37.3 to 80.8 mph), which in most countries is the maximum permissible speed.

When the highway pilot is active, the Audi Elaine changes lanes automatically – it can pass and then return to the original lane, for example. It can initiate, perform and complete such actions autonomously, without any involvement of the person behind the wheel. If the driver does want to intervene, they can do so spontaneously at any time.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi Elaine continues to support the driver after leaving the highway and multilane urban freeways behind. All of the usual driver assistance systems are on board, including the pre sense safety technologies and the predictive efficiency assistant, which can be provided with even more precise route details from the HERE navigation data.

Time savings and comfort gains

Audi is continually expanding the infotainment functions, with ever-faster internet connections making it possible to share large quantities of data during the journey.
Simultaneously, the integration of communications media in the vehicle continues to advance. They allow people to work inside the vehicle, for example, taking part in a video conference. Drivers have more time and more choice as to how they use the time aboard the vehicle. The car of the future has great potential for time savings and comfort gains. In specially designated areas called Audi AI Zones, an Audi will be able to perform a variety of tasks autonomously while the driver works or engages in leisure activities.

Audi AI Zone

The networking of the car and the infrastructure is crucial for driverless mobility. The driver parks the Audi in a designated area (the handover zone) and exits the vehicle. From there, the car drives automatically and unoccupied into a multistory parking garage offering a variety of services, such as a car wash, a package station, a gas station or a charging post. Thanks to Audi AI, the car does all of this itself. Connected with its surroundings, the intelligent Audi can even locate an unmarked parking space on the side of the road and pull precisely into it. At the desired time, the vehicle is back in the handover zone, ready for its next journey. Drivers can follow the actions of their vehicle at all times and even add new tasks using an app.

Customers of the premium brand will soon be able to save time and enjoy greater convenience in Audi AI Zones. Audi is currently developing a standard interface for a wide
variety of smart devices and is preparing web-based, vehicle-specific apps. The project is almost ready for production. The Audi Elaine will thus become an IoT device (internet of things), seamlessly and smartly integrating itself within the world of its user.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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Assistant and butler – PIA

The best operating concept is the one that is ideally adapted to the driver, the one that relieves him/her of as many actions as possible and that autonomously carries out routine operational inputs. PIA, the personal intelligent assistant, follows precisely this principle. Using artificial intelligence methods, PIA combines data intelligently with one another – data from the car, data about the driver, traffic jam reports and traffic projections, as well as information from the internet. PIA also responds to voice inputs and uses tailored algorithms to communicate autonomously and adaptively with the user.

PIA gets to know the driver by observing their behavior patterns. This opens it up to use for a broad range of applications: navigation, selection of music, selection of the desired Audi connect service, climate control, suggestion of a parking space or maintaining the regular asistance to vehicles ahead on the highway. PIA applies machine learning methods to gain insights and adapts the car’s functions to the behaviors and needs of the driver. It also makes active recommendations.

A server in the secure Audi cloud hosts and processes the PIA data. Customers can view and manage this data at any time via their myAudi account. They can delete or edit this data, for instance in the case of a move. What’s more, they can be automatically transferred to other cars. The car identifies the individual user, loads their user profile, and PIA then adapts the car and its interactive behavior accordingly.

Car-to-X technology

See more than with the human eye or the infra-red camera – Car-to-X technology expands the horizon of the established vehicle sensors based on radars, cameras and ultrasound, by supplementing these with information obtained from far away and outside of the field of vision of the driver. Car-to-X, the real-time communication between cars and with the infrastructure, offers greater safety, comfort and efficiency. In this way, the car recognizes dangerous situations even earlier and accidents can be avoided.

Audi Fit Driver

Every Audi today already is equipped with the latest technology and offers top-level comfort and safety. As a private place of retreat and all-round networked space, a car is an ideal place for monitoring fitness levels and can also actively improve the health and well-being of the driver. Projects like Audi Fit Driver make the Audi Elaine concept vehicle an empathetic companion. In many situations, it knows what the driver needs. A wearable device on the driver’s wrist provides the data. It collects and transmits information about the most important vital signs, such as body temperature and heart rate.

If Audi Fit Driver detects increased stress or fatigue, for example, the vehicle systems adapt themselves accordingly in a relaxing, a vitalizing or a protective manner. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, the system gets to know the driver better and better.

2017 Audi Elaine High Resolution Exterior
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With Audi Fit Driver, driver can for the first time actively reduce stress and improve their concentration. If the system notices that the driver is highly stressed, this can be reduced by means of a special breathing technique. The Audi virtual cockpit displays bio-feedback like that used in performance sports as a guide. Additionally, a voice over the loudspeakers guides the driver through the exercise. Whether it be relaxing breathing exercises, energizing seat massage functions to the beat of the music, special climate control functions, adaptive infotainment measures or perfectly-suited interior lighting moods: The objective of Audi Fit Driver is a driving experience optimally tuned to the driver’s condition. Drivers should be more relaxed when they get out of the car than when they got in.

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