Now that the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback are now out in the open, the German carmaker has introduced a new S variant for both models, which are aimed at delivering performance. Unlike the dual-motor versions released earlier, the e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback pack three electric motors instead.
This setup sees a motor driving each of the rear wheels, while the front just gets the one, lifted from the regular e-tron 55. What you end up with is 503 PS (496 hp or 370 kW) and 937 Nm of torque, which is good for a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed that ends at 210 km/h.
To improve efficiency, only the rear electric motors are engaged in normal driving mode. However, when more performance or a lack of traction is detected, the front motor kicks into action to provide electric all-wheel drive. There’s also electric torque vectoring to keep things in check, with each of rear motors sending drive directly to their respective wheel via a single-speed transmission; there is no mechanical differential in play here.
Despite these systems, there is still some fun to be had here, as placing the car’s ESC stabilisation control in “sport” mode and the Audi drive select system in “dynamic” mode allows to controlled drifts. Even when you’re approaching the car’s limit in the bends, the systems are working hard to control the chaos, including applying the brakes on the unloaded front wheel on the inside of the curve to prevent slip and further refine handling.
Besides the uprated powertrain, S models get a specific tuning for the adaptive air suspension, with seven settings that can vary the level of the body by up to 76 mm depending on the situation. A set of 20-inch wheels are standard here, with the option of 21- and 22-inch units available on request. Meanwhile, the front brakes sport 400-mm discs and six-piston calipers, which come in black with a red S rhombus, but can be painted orange with e-tron logos.
The brakes also work with the car’s energy recuperation system via the motors, with a dedicated system deciding whether to decelerate the car by using one or a combination of both systems. Using the electric motors to slow down, the S models come with three levels of recuperation, with the most aggressive setting generating up to 0.3 g of deceleration.
All the energy gained is fed back to the 95-kWh battery located under the passenger compartment, which is made up of 36 modules that each contain 12 cells. Audi quotes a driving range of up to 364 km for the e-tron S and 370 km for the e-tron S Sportback based on the WLTP cycle.
Recharging the battery is done via a Type 2 connection, and the S models come with an onboard charger that supports AC charging of up to 11 kW, so a domestic wallbox or public charger will work just fine. To juice up even quicker, there’s also a CCS port that enables DC fast charging of up to 150 kW, whereby a five to 80% state of charge can be achieved in just around half an hour.
Styling-wise, you can spot either S model by the slightly wider body thanks to the wheel arch extensions, with those at the front also carrying air curtains. These help to cloak the 23 mm wider wheels, while silver accents on the front and rear further add to visual presence. Not a whole lot different on the inside of both cars, with S badging and embossing to signify the added performance, while carbon-fibre trim is available to replace the standard brushed aluminium.
The technology is much the same as the non-S cars too, including the Audi virtual cockpit and the MIB 3-powered MMI touch response infotainment system, the latter with two large central displays. An optional head-up display can be added if the customer wishes, and there’s a bunch of connected services and assistance systems as well.
Both S models will go on sale in European markets in fall 2020, with the e-tron S carrying a base price of 91,435 euros (RM449,628), while the e-tron S Sportback starts a little higher at 93,628 euros (RM460,412).
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