Audi's first volume EV went on sale last year in the form of the 2019 E-Tron SUV, which is already winning plenty of accolades.
But the automaker is hard at work developing a faster, performance-oriented version of the E-Tron that we should see later this year. This new model is the E-Tron S, prototypes for which have been spotted at the Nürburgring and on some of the German racetrack's surrounding roads.
An E-Tron S Sportback is also coming, a prototype for which we tested in February.
The prototype shown here may look like a standard E-Tron but if you look a little closer you'll notice some changes that hint at it being a performance offering.
Slightly larger intakes at the flanks of the front fascia are there to feed more cool air to the brakes, which are also larger than on the standard E-Tron. The wheels and tires are also wider than on the standard E-Tron, as they appear to almost fill the wheel arches on the prototypes. We also spot a new diffuser design at the rear.
The powertrain will be a tri-motor setup, with one motor up front and two at the rear. To boost efficiency, it will only use the rear motors during highway driving. But at peak performance the setup will deliver 496 horsepower and 718 pound-feet of torque.
Audi E-Tron S Sportback prototype
According to Audi, the E-Tron S will scoot to 60 mph in under 4.5 seconds. We think it will be way under 4.5 seconds, though.
By having two independent motors at the rear, Audi will be able to precisely vary torque between the rear wheels. At the front, standard brake-based torque vectoring is relied upon.
As for the battery and range, we'll most likely see Audi stick with the standard E-Tron's 95-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The battery is rated by the EPA at 204 miles in the standard E-Tron and 218 miles in the more aerodynamic E-Tron Sportback.