Audi's first volume electric vehicle, the E-Tron crossover, went on sale a couple of years back and has managed to earn plenty of accolades since then.
But a faster, performance-oriented version called the E-Tron S is coming this fall as a 2022 model, with prices starting at $85,895. An E-Tron S Sportback is also coming for the 2022 model year, a prototype for which we tested early last year. It will cost $88,495.
The E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback are among the first EVs from a major automaker with a three-motor powertrain. Another is the Tesla Model S Plaid. In the Audis, there's a single motor up front and two independent motors in the rear. By having two independent motors at the rear, the system is able to precisely vary torque between the rear wheels. At the front, standard brake-based torque vectoring is relied upon.
Audi E-Tron S Sportback
The three motors deliver a combined output of 496 hp and 718 lb-ft of torque, though this peak output is only delivered in temporary bursts lasting eight seconds. According to Audi, it will see the E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback deliver 0-60 mph acceleration in 4.3 seconds. Top speed on the vehicles is capped at 130 mph.
The battery is the same 95-kilowatt-hour unit found in the regular E-Trons. 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. Audi said the S models will have an EPA-estimated range of 208 miles in standard E-Tron S form while the E-Tron S Sportback will have up to 212 miles of range. The S models operate in rear-wheel-drive mode as much as possible to boost efficiency, with the front motor kicking in when the driver needs more performance or slip is detected, according to Audi.
Beyond the powertrain, the S versions of the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback benefit from performance tuning of the suspension and steering systems. The vehicles also come with 21-inch wheels (22-inch wheels are available) and uprated brakes. Like most EVs, all E-Tron variants can also recover energy when braking. Depending on the driving situation, the computer controling the braking system decides individually for each axle whether the car will decelerate with the electric motors, the conventional brakes, or both.
Audi E-Tron S Sportback
The S models are also wider than the regular E-Trons, by almost two inches. This has allowed the engineers to fit wider wheels and tires. Drag remains low however thanks to clever flow-optimized wheel arch extensions and flaps in the front brake ducts which remain closed as much as possible to streamline airflow.
Inside, there are a number of sporty touches including bolstered seats with nappa leather trim. Owners will also find a number of “S” logos around the cabin, along with the top version of Audi's infotainment system. A head-up display is available.
Though it's yet to be confirmed, there are reports the E-Tron will receive a major update for the 2023 model year, and chief among the updates is reportedly more range.