2025 Audi Q6 & SQ6 E-Tron First Drive Review: Futuristic Yet Familiar

A wave of next-generation EVs from Audi and Porsche is coming, and the 2025 Audi Q6 and SQ6 E-Tron are going to be the first to crest and roll ashore, washing over the toes of EV naysayers like a friendly foam. As the first EV built on the new Premium Platform Electric, uh, platform, the Q6 will usher in the next-gen of EVs from Volkswagen AG, including a new Porsche Macan. It’s strange that a comparatively pedestrian midsize SUV gets first dibs on the PPE but put aside the Macan for now because the Q6 and SQ6 E-Tron are deservedly leading the new platform’s charge. 

The goals for the 800-volt platform were higher integration, efficiency, and power density, says Audi—in short, the goal was a better EV ownership experience for prospective buyers. One that aims to be more seamless than ever, and that, perhaps, ironically, pairs bleeding-edge tech with the historic identity of a brand like Audi—and it’s hit the mark. This is classic Audi: power, luxury, and great handling. It seamlessly blends old and new, making for an EV that’s less interested in being an EV and more interested in being an Audi.

José Rodríguez Jr.

Of course, making a new tech-heavy SUV that embodies the Audi spirit required upending some norms. Audi took a new approach to making the Q6, designing it from the inside out rather than the outside in. That’s not quite sacrilege in the world of R&D, but it’s close. Whereas the combustion engine was once at the center of the Fibonacci spiral that led to a car’s design, the driver is now at the center in the Q6 E-Tron. As well as the passengers, to some extent.

Audi says that it started by making the interior of the Q6 first, coming up with a tech-laden cabin that feels overwhelming at first. As soon as you step in, the wrap-around display threatens to swallow you whole. There’s an 11.9-inch OLED driver’s screen behind the squared-off steering wheel and a 14.5-inch OLED center screen in a panel that curves toward the driver. The interior favors the driver, but there’s an optional 10.9-inch LCD display on the passenger’s side above the glove box. The three displays house the EV’s native infotainment, built on Android Automotive OS. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay for the iPhone faithful.

From the driver’s seat, I started to believe Audi’s claim that the Q6 E-Tron was designed from the inside out, though not for the better. The cabin reminded me of a design study from a new designer that would be scrapped in the early stages of development—something that looks good on paper or CAD software but would never fly in the real world. And, yet, there it was, a screen living on the former dead space at the end of the dash. Why not let it stay dead?

The panoramic display hovers over the center console which has a small volume knob that also lets you skip tracks. Thank heavens for rotary dials! Still, I wasn’t in love with the interior. The HVAC controls are on the screen rather than on a row of buttons, and it’s obvious that touchscreens and capacitive touch buttons are Audi and VW’s way forward into the EV future. 

Clearly, Audi is nudging me to use the Q6 E-Tron’s voice-activated Audi Assistant, which can handle over 800 functions and change the majority of settings. The Assistant can even learn to tell apart the voices of driver and passenger, and ignore commands from the latter. Neat, but not convincing enough to use voice-assist.

I worried the techy interior would put me off because the screens and voice commands are just the tip of the iceberg. The Q6 and SQ6 E-Tron are the first to get Audi’s “End-to-End Electronics architecture” (E3), which is in charge of everything from the infotainment and driving functions to ADAS features. And driver assists are a big part of the Q6, with adaptive cruise control and emergency braking being standard. There’s an optional adaptive cruise assist plus, combining adaptive cruise with lane-keep that controls acceleration, braking, following distance, lane position, and more.

Audi says the system learns from surrounding traffic and other motorists to the point of slowing you down at a dangerous curve if it detects that you’re coming in too hot. The Q6 E-Tron pulls swarm data from HERE map services (in Europe) which is a widely-used mapping and mobility data provider that once belonged to Nokia. Yes, that Nokia. Basically, the Audi Q6 and SQ6 are constantly learning and adjusting the car’s braking, acceleration, and steering on models with the ADAS upgrade.

The Q6 also applies machine learning to its regenerative braking, which defaults to an “auto” mode that gives it some say in how the car recovers energy as it slows, increasing or decreasing the regen level based on driver behavior. It’s just another way drivers are sharing more control of modern vehicles with sophisticated computers. This has been the case for decades, given the software underlying most automotive hardware is controlled by a computer algorithm. But the effects are more overt in new vehicles, and it makes you perk up the first time the Q6 does something unexpected, such as braking into a turn when it judges you’re going too fast.

By now, you may have guessed I hated driving the Q6. That I pouted and proceeded to stand next to the EV waving my fists at it and the clouds… where the internet lives. But just because the Q6 did something unexpected, doesn’t mean it was unwelcome. After getting over the shock of giving up a little control, I noticed that the Audi was helping rather than hindering me, so I eased up and enjoyed the computer-assisted drive. Look, I’ll probably never tell a robot to take the wheel, but a little help doesn’t bother me.

Especially when that help allows me to reign in the power of the SQ6 E-Tron on unfamiliar European roads. The Audi Q6’s new PPE platform means it and the SQ6’s two drive motors and 100-kWh battery are also new. The Q6 and SQ6 will launch with dual motors and all-wheel drive, but a single-motor model will come later, as well as a fastback and other RS versions that Audi has confirmed but not yet revealed. 

The Q6 E-Tron makes a combined 422 horsepower from its front and rear motors but bumps that up to 456 hp with launch control. Audi didn’t specify combined torque, but the Q6 will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. The performance-oriented SQ6 shares the same motor layout but makes 483 horses as-is and 509 using launch control, sprinting from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds. The downside of that performance is reduced range: the SQ6 is rated for 276 miles while the base Q6 gets 307.

Of course, I didn’t set the SQ6 E-Tron to warp mode because that would be irresponsible and (mostly) I’m not eager to find out what prison is like in Spain. I’m a native Spanish speaker but castellano doesn’t always graft onto my Latin American lexicon. The linear power delivery of the SQ6 E-Tron’s dual motors never surprised me, for better or worse. But there’s plenty of power on tap, and traction was never lacking thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive. Passing the countless hatchbacks and diesel wagons on the AP-8 motorway was effortless. The SQ6 has perfectly weighted steering, communicating maneuvers well and gaining my trust early on.

Audi

The Q6 E-Tron’s suspension was a bit soft, but the sport adaptive suspension of the SQ6 was just right. Both models boast air suspension with selectable modes, including one for off-road. We tested this mode accidentally on purpose by getting lost and driving on some ranch trail carved into a mountain. The Q6 did just fine in the mud. And adding to that practicality, the electric SUV has a towing capacity of up to 4,400 pounds. 

Back on the highway, the road test resumed in earnest through the many twists and turns as we ascended and descended the mountain passes. Through it all, the Q6 and SQ6 were composed, hugging the road better than any SUV with a 1,300-pound battery should.  Remember, this platform will also underpin the electric Porsche Macan, and the SQ6 is an S-badged Audi through and through.

I pushed it where I could, but found no jerking, no skittishness on sudden direction change, nor any excess body roll in bends or tight turns. Some of that was because the SQ6 would often slow down for me or correct a mild drift from the lane, keeping our speed in check and trajectory true. But these corrections were neither alarming nor obtrusive. Even regen braking was hard to detect, giving the SQ6 a natural feel at the brake pedal. The option for aggressive regen is certainly there, with five modes ranging from one-pedal driving to regular-car coasting. I set the regen to “auto” and completely forgot about it.

Audi

I could hear the SQ6 E-Tron whispering in the back of my mind, reminding me it was designed from the inside out, revolving around me, the driver. I wanted to call it a liar and point to the dumb display on the passenger’s side, but once you’re moving, that screen goes into privacy mode and becomes impossible to see from the driver’s seat. When it was my turn as a passenger, I used the screen to set a route on the nav after Android Auto did its thing and reset the GPS. Thanks, Google. 

OK, fine. I’ll admit that the passenger screen came in handy. 

José Rodríguez Jr.

The 800-volt architecture enables 270 kW DC fast charging, which means the 100-kWh battery pack will charge from 10 to 80% in as little as 21 minutes. The battery can get up to 135 miles of range in 10 minutes under ideal conditions. But 800-volt architecture is still uncommon, so Audi built in a few tricks to take advantage of the new platform’s capabilities.

It enabled bank charging in the Q6, which allows the electric SUV to “divide” its single 800-volt battery into two 400-volt batteries that recharge simultaneously at stations where DC fast charging is unavailable. Audi also paid attention to the battery and drivetrain thermals. There’s even a dry sump electric oil pump for the rear motor, The E3 computer can cool or heat the battery to optimize charging efficiency. And Audi also changed the battery’s packaging for improved isolation and cooling. The juice pack is now lighter and more compact for better heat transfer, which resulted in a space-efficient battery that bought Audi more freedom in designing the Q6. 

The exterior design of the Q6 is unmistakably Audi, athletic and streamlined but not shouty like other luxury cars. It’s also not leaning hard into a futuristic EV aesthetic for no good reason, as some other EVs tend to do. From far away, this is a typical Audi SUV, only with two CCS charging ports—one on each side—for the sake of convenience. The fenders have the flair of old Quattros while taking after the E-Tron GT sedan. The SQ6 amps up the sport with available 21-inch “Aero” wheels and red brake calipers.

The Matrix LED headlights and OLED taillights have eight selectable patterns. The tails even let you communicate with others on the road via light patterns. Oh, wait. No. Full functionality of the lights will be disabled in the U.S. due to regulations, despite having all the required hardware.

For now, the Q6 E-Tron will fit between the smaller Q4 and bigger Q8 E-Tron in Audi’s EV lineup. Legroom in the back row is generous thanks to the compact packaging of the new drivetrain built into the SUV’s 9.5-foot wheelbase. The electric Q6 and SQ6 don’t replace the gas Q5 and SQ5, of course, but are in the same midsize luxury SUV orbit. Audi envisions the Q6 E-Tron competing with the Tesla Model Y, BMW iX, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Q6 is expected to hit U.S. dealers in late 2024. Pricing remains unknown but is expected to be around the mid-$60,000s for the base model and low-$70,000s for the SQ6.

Rather than swim against the current and force people to love unfamiliar technology, shoving the EV-ness of the Q6 E-Tron in our faces, Audi found a way to work with our proclivities. The result is an EV that feels and handles naturally or more “normal,” pretty much like a comparable ICE-powered model. And I say that as a compliment. The Q6 is not only a good electric car, it’s just a good car period. As far as driving experiences go, at least, we’re finally approaching the point of EV normalization, and the Audi Q6 and SQ6 E-Tron are at the front of the line.

2025 Audi Q6 & SQ6 E-Tron Quattro SpecsQ6SQ6
Base PriceTBD (est. mid-$60,000s)TBD (est. low-$70,000s)
Powertraindual-motor all-wheel drive | 100-kWh battery<<
Horsepower422 (456 with launch control)483 (509 with launch control)
Seating Capacity5<<
Curb Weight5,269 pounds5,324 pounds
Towing Capacity4,400 pounds<<
Cargo Volume30.2 cubic feet behind second row | 60.2 cubic feet behind first row<<
0-60 mph4.9 seconds4.1 seconds
Top Speed130 mph143 mph
Max Charging Rate270 kW<<
EPA Range307 miles276 miles
Quick TakeBold, innovative EVs that are focused on driver comfort and driving enjoyment.
Score8/10

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