If this is a sign of Audi’s future, then sign us up for it

In a world where the term “concept car” has been overused to some extent, Audi jolted some life back to the phrase with the PB18 e-Tron Concept. The fascinating prototype made its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, blending form with a number of functions, packaged in a dynamic design that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Audi. Best of all, at least for snobs of the autonomous technology movement, the PB18 e-Tron Concept gives the driver full control of the vehicle with no hints of autonomous tech assistance.

Exterior

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept
- image 792475
It’s presented as an electric supercar, but its design blends the layout of a coupé, the shape of a hatchback, and the profile of an all-conquering exotic.

The Audi PB18 e-tron Concept is something else. It’s presented as an electric supercar, but its design blends the layout of a coupé, the shape of a hatchback, and the profile of an all-conquering exotic. In other words, the PB18 is a living, four-wheeled embodiment of what a concept car should look like.

The front section of the PB18 e-tron looks the part of a coupé, so much so that if you squint your eyes a little, you might see some design similarities with Audi’s current supercar, the R8. Audi’s Singleframe grille is prominent in its hexagon shape, sitting in the middle and occupying a large amount of space. Large inlets flank the grille in typical Audi fashion. Those inlets aren’t there for simply for show; they take in cool air and directs it to the front electric motor and the brakes of the concept. Directly above the inlets are thin light units that don’t do justice to the power they possess. These light setups come with laser high-beams and are integrated digital matrix technology in what amounts to a showcase of home-grown technologies. The PB18 has a short hood that doubles as an air deflector. Even in designs like this, Audi finds a way to increase its functionality. Impressive stuff.

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept Exterior
- image 791936
The sloping roofline, in particular, is a nice design touch that emphasizes the concept’s unique profile.

Move to the side of the PB18 e-Tron and you’ll realize that the concept is longer than you probably expected. Measuring 4.53 meters (14.5 feet) long, 2 meters (6.4 feet) wide, and 1.15 meters (4.6 tall), the PB18 e-tron is a big car. With all that real estate, it’s not a surprise that Audi’s designers turned in a creative design that blends the dynamic look of a sports car with the profile of a hatchback, turning it almost into a wildly imaginative shooting brake concept. The sloping roofline, in particular, is a nice design touch that emphasizes the concept’s unique profile.

The rear section feeds into a similar narrative. LED lights span the entire width of the car and, when viewed from the side, this whole subsection of the rear juts out prominently, as if wanting to showcase how pointed it is. All told, the PB18 e-Tron is a fascinating concept that deserves to be talked about years from now.

Interior

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept
- image 792463
In a nutshell, Audi says the cabin can convert between a traditional two-person layout and a single passenger

The PB18’s exterior is dramatic. That’s a given. The interior, on the other hand, is either going to leave you amazed or confused. In a nutshell, Audi says the cabin can convert between a traditional two-person layout and a single passenger. The latter of these two layouts puts the driver squarely in the center of the cockpit, similar to the Mercedes EQ Silver Arrows Concept.

The PB18’s windshield isn’t your typical glass, either. It incorporates an augmented reality system, display information about the road ahead. This display is mighty useful when you’re on a race track because it can show the ideal racing line for you take. As titillating as that looks and feels like, the seat and all the instruments can slide to offer to open up room for a passenger.

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept
- image 792464
Believe it or not, but the hatchback layout of the PB18 also provides enough room for a decent amount of cargo space.

Believe it or not, but the hatchback layout of the PB18 also provides enough room for a decent amount of cargo space. There are 16.6 cubic feet of storage inside the concept vehicle. It’s not that big, sure, but it’s almost as big as the Volkswagen Golf’s 17.4 cubic feet of storage space.

Drivetrain

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept
- image 792476
The vehicle uses three different electric motors — one in the front axle and two in the rear axle — that each produces 201 horsepower.

Unlike Mercedes, Audi’s not messing around in detailing the power and performance capabilities of the PB18 e-Tron Concept. The vehicle uses three different electric motors — one in the front axle and two in the rear axle — that each produces 201 horsepower. Put together; the electric motors combine to produce 604 horsepower, which increases to 671 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque during normal driving sessions. The concept does come with a temporary boost that raises the output to a whopping 764 horsepower, enough to help the PB18 Concept accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just over two seconds.

The concept is what it is so it’s not a certainty that its powertrain configuration will be where it is if the technology is adapted for production use. That said, Audi is also looking into developing a 95kWh solid-state battery that could, in theory, have enough range to cover 310 miles on a single charge. An 800-volt charging system could also be in the company’s future, one that could be topped up in just 15 minutes.

Conclusion

2018 Audi PB18 e-tron Concept Exterior
- image 791933

Audi has a long history of designing and creating impressive concept vehicles. The PB18 is the latest in a string of hits from the German automaker. What’s important now is whether Audi sees a production future for the PB18. The R8 is not long for the world, and its departure is going to leave a gaping hole in Audi’s lineup. Is it possible, then, that the model that will succeed the R8 as Aud’s flagship supercar will trace its roots to the PB18 e-tron Concept? Stay tuned to find out.

  • Leave it
    • * Interior layout has no production future
    • * No word on production
    • * Probably not going to happen

Further reading

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
- image 420832

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi R8.

2019 Audi E-tron Quattro Exterior
- image 771983

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Audi E-tron Quattro.

no article
- image 744956

Read more Audi news.

no article
- image 788858

Read more Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance news.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: