Make no bones about it: Audi’s all-electric E-Tron SUV may have received high marks from professional auto reviewers and new owners alike, but it hasn’t moved the automaker’s sales needle in the US. In all of pre-pandemic 2019, the Audi sold fewer than 5,400 E-Trons here — less than an average month of Q5 sales. It’s amidst this frustrating backdrop that the 2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback model whirs into dealers, its racier slope-back roofline hoping to catch both eyes and sales.Based on visuals alone, the E-Tron Sportback has undergone the now industry-standard four-door-coupification process more successfully than most luxury crossover SUVs — EV or not. From the windshield header forward, the Sportback looks the same as its more traditional two-box sibling and indeed, it has nearly the same height. However, owing to its dramatically plunging rearward greenhouse and frameless windows that clean up its roofline, the Sportback looks simultaneously lower and arguably more stylish, adding in a dash of athleticism. The Sportback isn’t just slipperier to the eye, it enjoys a 0.28 coefficient of drag, 0.02 better than its boxier relation.
Audi E-Tron Sportback First Edition is one slick electric SUV
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Range and charging specs are only part of the storyOn the performance front, the Sportback is all but identical to the standard E-Tron, but a number of incremental improvements across both body styles increase appeal. Among the changes, Audi upped the available battery capacity slightly, increasing the customer-accessible portion of this 95.3-kilowatt-hour pack to 86.5 kWh — nearly 3 more than first-year E-Tron models. This translates to 218 miles of range and EPA estimates of 76 MPGe city, 78 highway and 77 combined. (The rest of the pack is held in reserve to preserve longevity.)
When it comes time to juice up, the Sportback supports Level 3 150-kW quick charging, which can jolt the battery from 0% to 80% in around 30 minutes. More common Level 2 chargers (like those most EV owners install) can replenish an entire pack in around 10.5 hours. Each E-Tron also comes with 1,000 kWh of complimentary charging through the Electrify America network. Speaking of filling up, the Sportback is available with dual charge ports, one on each front fender. Especially for city dwellers who live in condos or apartments with tight access to charge points, this unusual bonus feature could be a major quality-of-life enhancer.
This Plasma Blue E-Tron Sportback First Edition is one of 200 coming to our shores.
To be clear, the Sportback’s aforementioned range figures are unremarkable — a base, Tesla Model X Long Range Plus has a 351-mile claimed range, but starting at around $80,000, it’s nearly $10,000 pricier than a 2021 E-Tron Sportback (more on pricing in a minute). Of course, while smaller than the Audi, the Model Y Performance comes in at 291 miles for far less money (around $60K) and there’s a slower, less-expensive Long Range spec with 316.
In my experience, however, with both this Sportback and with previous E-Tron testers, Audi EVs achieve their range estimates with relative ease, almost regardless of driving behavior or ambient conditions. Conversely, Tesla’s stated ranges usually feel like best-case scenarios. As with all things, your mileage may vary, but the real-world range gulf between these rivals is likely far smaller for most drivers than these vehicles’ window stickers would suggest.Performance beyond the numbersI start with these performance comparisons if only to get them out of the way. For better or worse, it seems impossible to review a new premium EV of any stripe without acknowledging how they numerically stack up to offerings from Elon and Friends. That said, I’m likewise here to propose an alternate view, which I think delivers a fuller picture of luxury electric life in general, and this E-Tron Sportback specifically.You’ve likely found that all EV reviews from the humble Nissan Leaf to the Porsche Taycan wax rhapsodic about the instant torque and silent running inherent in battery-powered vehicles. Especially for those coming out of a convention internal-combustion-engined (ICE) model, that’s certainly a valid first impression and it’s absolutely the case with this E-Tron Sportback. And while that notion speaks to the innate serenity of electric power, this Audi takes that sense of wellbeing to a higher level, both in the way this SUV goes down the road and the way its cabin and tech make you feel.As is typical for EVs, there’s not much to look at under the hood. Lift that plastic lid and you’ll find the charge cord.
The Sportback’s two-motor powertrain routes 355 horsepower and 414 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels by default, rising to a temporary 402 hp and 490 lb-ft in Boost Mode. The latter setting is enough to whoosh this 5,750-pound softroader to 60 mph in a drama-free 5.5 seconds. That’s reasonably quick, but again, not headline- or Instagram-worthy stuff by today’s EV standards. What makes the Sportback impressive is the utterly placid manner in which this performance is conjured. Yes, it’s quiet. Yes, it’s linear. And yes, it feels endlessly repeatable without apparent degradation in performance during hard driving. While it feels uncharacteristically new-age-ish (and somewhat nebulous) of me to say, the tactile quality of the E-Tron’s cabin materials and the precision of their assembly contributes to that aura of slipstream serenity. There’s no doubt about it, the fit and finish of the E-Tron Sportback’s interior is worlds more luxurious and of noticeably higher quality than something like the Jaguar I-Pace, let alone anything Tesla has ever made. The last new Tesla Models X and Y that I drove dazzled with their accelerative urgency, but their high-performance spells were momentary broken by surprising amounts of wind noise and the occasional mysterious creak or graunch from beyond the firewall and rear hatch area. By comparison, even with frameless windows, the Sportback is one of the quietest vehicles I have ever driven.The E-Tron’s other performance attributes are tuned harmoniously, too. The standard adaptive air suspension is remarkably compliant over greater Detroit’s indifferently maintained roads, even riding atop this example’s upsized 21-inch tires. With the Drive Select controller set to its firmest detent, the E-Tron’s ride is more than livable and cornering attitude is flat, doubtlessly aided by the weighty battery pack slung low in the chassis. I prefer keeping the steering set to Sport for a heftier feel when charging down a winding road, but no matter the setting, the steering is precise but numb. Like other modern Audi models, the E-Tron Sportback feels tech rich and very well assembled.
A word on omissions and creepsA note about the braking: Audi worked particularly diligently to blend the EV powertrain’s regenerative braking with traditional friction binders and the results do nothing to erode the Sportback’s air of overall effortlessness. Unlike some EVs, they’re easy to modulate thanks to consistent feel. However, there’s one key thing the brakes don’t do nearly as well as many other EVs: one-pedal driving. While Audi worked in a user-selectable setting with stronger regenerative braking than early E-Trons, it’s not close to being enough to enable one-pedal driving. According to company officials, Audi engineers deliberately chose to limit lift-off regen in the name of maximum efficiency. Admirable as that may be, lots of EV drivers tell Roadshow they quickly fall in love with single-pedal driving and not offering a driver-selectable setting to accommodate this popular customer preference feels like more than a minor exclusion — it feels both shortsighted and needlessly overbearing. Similarly, it’s also odd that Audi’s coders haven’t made a forward-creep setting available. Manual-transmission cars aside, nearly every modern vehicle rolls forward slowly from a stop when the brake pedal is released, as when pulling away from a stop sign or inching forward in a left-hand turn lane. Not the E-Tron. You have to nudge the accelerator. You get used to this, of course, but if the goal is to make transitioning from a traditional ICE model as easy as possible, this is an omission.The E-Tron comes with standard 360-degree, top-down camera coverage for easy parking.
Interior and infotainment techThe cabin certainly feels a bit more intimate and racier, but that’s mostly when looking in the rearview mirror or if you’re seated in the second row. TL;DR: Plenty of leg, knee and toe room, but headroom is a bit tight for those over 5 feet, 9 inches and the windows don’t roll down very far.As far as cargo volume goes, it’s largely unaffected by the coupification process. The Sportback offers 27.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, or 54.5 with them folded (decreases of 1.3 and 2.0 versus the standard E-Tron, respectively).Beyond that, the Sportback’s insides are pure modern Audi, which is to say impeccably assembled, tastefully decorated and rocking an impressive tech hand. Thanks to a trio of large displays, one for the Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster and two for the touchscreen MMI infotainment system, when the power is off, the E-Tron Sportback’s cabin look is almost eerily minimalist, particularly when rendered in darker colors like this one. That doesn’t mean it’s boring inside, though. By comparison, the Model Y’s pared-back dashboard and single display may nail the minimalist yoga-studio-on-wheels aesthetic, but thanks to its significantly cheaper materials and occasionally frustrating controls, Fremont’s finest doesn’t deliver the same sense of serenity and solidity as the Sportback. You take the Tesla. Namaste in this Audi, friend.Second-row space is quite good, though those taller than 5 feet, 9 inches may want to slouch a little.
E-Tron Sportback model years and pricingEarlier, I mentioned that the E-Tron Sportback sits between the Tesla Model Y and X in price and indeed, it does. That said, further explanation is necessary. Due to COVID-19-related production and shipping hiccups, both 2020 and 2021 model-year Sportbacks are trickling into dealers more or less simultaneously and unlike Team Elon, all E-Trons remain eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit.A very short 2020 model-year run consists of two models: A midrange Premium Plus spec that include features like adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera suite and 16-speaker Bang and Olufsen 3D audio for $78,445 (including $1,045 for delivery). The other choice is an all-boxes-checked 2020 Edition One like the example seen in these images. It adds the Prestige Package, which includes features like the aforementioned twin charge ports, head-up display, massaging contour front seats, full leather (including dash, armrests and center console) and even an air ionizer/fragrance dispenser. Just 200 Edition One models will be sold in the US and you’ll be able to spot them on the street by their special Plasma Blue metallic paint and the 21-inch bi-color wheels shrouding orange brake calipers. Price? A heady $89,540 with destination.Interestingly, for the 2021 model year, Audi significantly retooled the E-Tron Sportback’s model line, enabling a much lower starting price. A new entry-level Premium trim starts at $70,145 delivered and it’s rather well equipped, including standard features like four-zone climate control and 20-inch alloys. Mid-trim Premium Plus models add ventilated 12-way power seats, matrix LED headlamps, B&O audio, wireless charging and a driver-assistance package, among other features for $79,045 delivered. Go whole hog on a Prestige to net nearly all of the features from the Edition One and you’re looking at $83,345 in your driveway before any federal, state and local tax incentives. Modestly slicker than its more upright E-Tron sibling, Audi is hoping this Sportback can jumpstart their EV sales.
It’s worth noting that a base Sportback is $3,700 more expensive than a regular E-Tron, a strategy that’s in-line with the industry’s “four-door coupe” SUV pricing trend: Same vehicle + different style – usable space = more money. While this value calculus perplexes your author, consumers have been supporting this type of math since the 2008 BMW X6, so more power — and profits — to ’em.Overall, the new E-Tron Sportback combines impressive luxury with a fluid, unflappable feel. What this SUV doesn’t really muster, however, is an experience that’s materially much different than the standard E-Tron. The idea that the Sportback is sportier is largely an illusion and it would’ve been interesting to see what might’ve resulted had Audi elected to give this model its own driving character. Regardless, if you’re looking for luxury, quality and serenity now, the E-Tron Sportback delivers like few vehicles — electric or otherwise.
Priest shot in Lyon, France; assailant flees: Report
The priest was fired on twice. A priest was shot and injured on Saturday at a church in the centre of the French city of Lyon by an assailant who then fled, a police source and witnesses said. The priest was fired on twice at around 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as he was closing the…
The priest was fired on twice.
A priest was shot and injured on Saturday at a church in the centre of the French city of Lyon by an assailant who then fled, a police source and witnesses said.
The priest was fired on twice at around 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as he was closing the church, and he was being treated on site for life-threatening injuries, the source said.
Another police source said the priest was of Greek nationality, and had been able to tell emergency services as they arrived that he had not recognised his assailant.
The incident came two days after a man beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in Nice. Two weeks ago, a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb was beheaded by an 18-year-old attacker.
While the motive for Saturday’s attack was not known, government ministers had warned that there could be other militant attacks.
President Emmanuel Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools.
Prime Minister Jean Castex, who was visiting Rouen, said he was heading back to Paris to assess the situation.
A third person has been taken into police custody in connection with that attack, a police source said on Saturday. The suspected assailant was shot by police and remained in critical condition in hospital.
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IMOLA: Valtteri Bottas powered to pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Saturday with the Finn’s team mate and Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton locking out the front row for dominant Mercedes.Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified third, after a power unit scare in the second phase sent mechanics scrambling to fix…
IMOLA: Valtteri Bottas powered to pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Saturday with the Finn’s team mate and Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton locking out the front row for dominant Mercedes.Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified third, after a power unit scare in the second phase sent mechanics scrambling to fix his car, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly a stunning fourth on the grid.Mercedes need only a fourth place finish in Sunday’s race to secure a record seventh successive constructors’ world championship.The pole, with a time of one minute 13.609 seconds, was a 13th in 13 races this season for the champions.Sunday’s race will be the first grand prix at Imola since 2006, with the track returning to flesh out a calendar ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the third in Italy this season.”This track, when you push flat out, it’s beautiful. I knew I had to improve in the last lap and I found those small gains that were needed,” said Bottas, who was 0.097 quicker than Hamilton.”It’s a great feeling when you get those.”It’s going to be a good fight. It’s one of the longest runs in the calendar into Turn One so no doubt Lewis and Max will be chasing me, but it’s a good place to start and hopefully the pace is good.”Hamilton leads Bottas by 77 points, having won eight times so far this season, and is closing on a record-equalling seventh drivers’ title although he will have to wait at least until Turkey in two weeks’ time for a chance to clinch it.”Valtteri did a great job. It was a pretty poor lap from myself. These things happen, you can’t always get it perfect,” said Hamilton, who had been quickest after the first flying laps in phase three.
Remedios Varo’s Mystical, Surreal Paintings Continue to Captivate
Upon the sudden death of Remedios Varo in 1963, her peer André Breton noted that death made the painter “the sorceress who left too soon.” It was a fitting way of bidding goodbye to Varo, whose faith in magic, mysticism, and the power of nature inspired her fantastical, allegorical work. She died at the height…
Upon the sudden death of Remedios Varo in 1963, her peer André Breton noted that death made the painter “the sorceress who left too soon.” It was a fitting way of bidding goodbye to Varo, whose faith in magic, mysticism, and the power of nature inspired her fantastical, allegorical work. She died at the height of her success—her posthumous retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City in in 1971 surpassed attendance records at the institution for shows by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
In death and life, Varo was defined by her Surrealist associations. After fleeing her native Spain, the French poet Benjamin Péret introduced her to the Parisian avant-garde crowd, whose members she exhibited and studied alongside. Varo worked within a psychoanalytic framework, but her approach left little to accident or automatism. She was a meticulous architect of dreamscapes, planning well in advance the symbology that operated as roadmaps to her autobiography, though she rejected affiliation with the Surrealists, telling an interviewer in 1957, “I was with an open mouth within this group of brilliant and gifted people. I was together with them because I felt a certain affinity. Today I do not belong to any group.”
Below is a guide to Varo’s life and the many influences that shaped her creations.
Early exposure to religion, Romanticism, and science made an indelible impact on her imagination.
She was born María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga in northeast Spain in 1908. Her father was a hydraulic engineer, whose profession often uprooted the family. Having recognized her artistic talent early, he had Varo reproduce his technical engineering sketches. An intellectual and a believer in universalism, the philosophical concept that certain ideas recur in all cultures, he introduced her to the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Alexandre Dumas, and Hieronymus Bosch. She was provided texts on mysticism, science, and philosophy. Her mother, in contrast, was a devout Catholic (Varo was named after the Virgin of Los Remedios). At 15, her parents enrolled her at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid, the alma mater of Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso.
Varo rebelled against it all—the formal instruction of the Escuela de Bellas Artes, her father’s expectations, and her mother’s religious ideology. At 19, she eloped with fellow student Gerardo Lizárraga, and the two left for Paris. She left him soon after to pursue a bohemian lifestyle, taking up with Péret. As an adult, Varo resisted speaking about her childhood. “I do not wish to talk about myself because I hold very deeply the belief that what is important is the work, not the person,” she said.
Toward the Tower by Remedios Varo, 1961.
GDA via AP Images
A triptych created in the last years of her life functions as a metaphor for her early years. In the first part, Toward the Tower (1961), Varo depicts herself as one of a group of uniformed girls bicycling away from a Mother Superior figure, an allusion to the convent she attended for primary schooling. Mother Superior is joined by a looming man and flock of birds. The girl at center resists the hypnotizing effect of her teachers, who have entranced her schoolmates. The central image of the triptych, Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle (1961), offers an alternate view of creation at odds with her conservative Catholic upbringing, which created anxiety for Varo throughout her life. In the work, convent girls are shown captive in a tower as they embroider a story dictated by a hooded figure. The figure stirs a boiling liquid, through which the thread emerges. The final panel, The Escape (1962), represents her successful emancipation. United with her lover, they flee to the mountains.
Varo spent the majority of her life in transit, first as a child, then in adulthood as a political refugee.
Varo moved to Paris in 1937, and because of her political ties, she was barred from returning to her native Spain following the Spanish Civil War. Her time in Paris was fruitful for the connections she made: through Péret, she met leading artists such Breton, Max Ernst, Salvator Dali, and Leonora Carrington. After arriving in Paris she exhibited in the International Surrealist exhibitions organized by Breton and poet Paul Éluard. When World War II neared Paris in 1940, Varo was jailed under suspicion of espionage along with fellow Spanish expatriates. After her release she fled the country with Péret aboard one of the last ships allowed to depart the country, en route to Mexico.
Displacement and travel is frequently alluded to in her painting, often in the form of surreal vehicles of voyage. In Exploration of the Sources of the Orinoco River (1959), an intense figure dressed in a bowler hat and English trench coat is ferried in a small, vest-like boat. She reaches a wooden hut, where water flows from a goblet. The work alludes to Varo’s gold mining trip to Venezuela, where the Orinoco River flows. Here, gold is reminiscent of philosopher’s gold, an alchemical substance which symbolized perfection of the mind and soul, as well as a source of transformation.
Varo blended Renaissance and Surrealist painting techniques in her work.
In one of her best-known paintings, a juggler (or magician) transfixes a crowd of near-identical figures clad in a single gray cloak. The juggler is illuminated by white stardust, and he stands on the platform of a cart filled with a lion and goat and fantastical instruments. Varo created the painting by first transferring a preparatory drawing onto a panel that had been primed with gesso, then scratching the panel to produce an unusual texture. Varo also used decalcomania, a decorative technique popularized by the Surrealists, in which designs on paper or aluminum foil are pressed onto another surface, transferring the image. This created the halo-like effect around the juggler. The central character has also been painted over a five-sided piece of mother of pearl, which Varo associated with enlightenment. Among her many influences was the writings of the Russian mystics and philosophers Georgii Giurdzhiev and Piotr Ouspenskii, who espoused the idea that people live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep,” but have the potential to awaken a state of hyper-consciousness.
Psychoanalysis played a large role in Varo’s work.
Like many of the Surrealists, Varo was drawn to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, both of whom focused on the complexity of the unconscious and untapped desires. It’s unknown whether Varo ever saw a psychoanalyst (a few unsent letters seeking psychiatric help were discovered in her belongings), but she populated her paintings with overt references to the field of study. In the 1956 work Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst’s Office, the central figure exits from the office of Dr. F. J. A. (Freud, Jung, and the Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler) and proceeds to drop her father’s disembodied head into a small well, an act which she described as “correct to do when leaving the psychoanalysis office.” Looked at one way, this could be Varo liberating herself from the patriarchy and approaching autonomy.
She found success and an enduring artistic practice in Mexico City.
Her early exposure to Surrealist and Cubist artists, in particular the work of Georges Braque, were formative on her later practice, but Varo produced little work while in Paris. This was partly due to the sexism of Varo’s male peers, who she said held contemptuous attitudes toward women artists. In Mexico, however, she produced a lush body of work that often elevated a feminine figure. In The Call (1961), her body is illuminated from within by a supernatural glow. While working odd jobs, including a stint as Marc Chagall’s assistant, Varo reunited with fellow European expatriates, such as Leonora Carrington and photographer Kati Horna, who together became known as “the three witches.”
Upon Varo’s arrival, Mexican muralism still held sway, but by the time of Varo’s first exhibition in 1955, Surrealism had become a market force. The show was a hit, with buyers forced to add their names to a waitlist. She showed again at the Salón de la Arte de Mujer in 1958, and died of a heart attack five years later, in 1963.
After a period of relative obscurity outside Mexico, Varo’s star rises on the market.
Frida Kahlo, Varo, and Carrington are often considered the preeminent women artists associated with the Mexican Surrealist movement. Varo remained relatively unknown outside Mexico after her death, but her profile has steadily climbed in recent years alongside rising demand for female Surrealists. Varo, having passed away at her prime, behind few works, many of which reside in private collections. In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired The Juggler (The Magician), 1956, which is now prominently displayed in the Surrealist gallery beside works by Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí.
In 2019, Varo was featured in “Surrealism in Mexico,” a retrospective at the Di Donna Galleries in New York, and in a pop-up show presented by Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco, which paired Varo with works by Carrington. “Some of the best paintings of Surrealism were made in Mexico during the 1940s and ’50s, by women,” wrote the New York Times in its review of the show. In June 2020, Varo’s 1959 canvas Microcosmos (Determinismo) sold at Sotheby’s for $1.8 million, marking the fifth-highest price paid for the Varo’s work at auction. Armonía (Autorretrato Sugerente), 1956, achieved an even higher number, selling for a record-breaking $6.1 million, far surpassing its high estimate of $3 million.