Ingolstadt - Car designers have long toyed with the idea of replacing conventional exterior mirrors with cameras, but until now no manufacturer has actually committed to making the idea workable for a production model.

That changes with the introduction of Audi’s fully-electric E-tron, which is expected to be revealed later this year.

Audi has just announced that the battery-powered SUV will mark the introduction of “virtual exterior mirrors”. 

To be offered as an optional extra - probably carrying a hefty premium - the system replaces the exterior mirrors with camera housings, which are much smaller and aerodynamically optimised to reduce both drag and noise.

The cameras they house transmit their images to OLED displays positioned between the instrument panel and door.

These virtual mirrors can also be adapted to various driving situations, offering different views for parking, turning and driving on the open road.

It has yet to be seen how many countries will deem this legal though.

This, together with other innovations such as underbody dimples and an adaptive air suspension that lowers the body by up to 26mm at highway speeds, allow the new E-tron to achieve a drag coefficient of 0.28, which is quite commendable for an SUV.

Audi says the new SUV will have an “everyday range” of 400km between charges, and it is expected to cost about the same as a well-specced Audi A6 sedan.

IOL Motoring