AUDI has revealed the latest chapter of its electric revolution with the unveiling of the E-Tron S wagon and Sportback SUV pair, which takes zero-emissions performance from the German premium brand to new heights.
Due to launch in Australia in the second half of 2021, the E-Tron S uses three electric motors that combine to produce a hefty 370kW/973Nm when using the Boost function available for eight seconds.
This places the S a considerable 70kW/309Nm clear of the twin-motor E-Tron 55, which will sit at the top of the E-Tron range for the time being when the all-new, all-electric SUV launches in September this year.
Under normal driving conditions, the E-Tron S produces 320kW/808Nm, making it one of the most powerful offerings in Audi’s entire product portfolio.
Sprinting from standstill to 100km/h in the E-Tron S takes just 4.5 seconds (2.0s quicker than the E-Tron 55), while terminal velocity is pegged at 210km/h.
The triple-motor set-up in the E-Tron S sees the powerful 150kW rear motor in the 55 moved to the front, while the smaller front motor on the 55 is relocated to the rear and duplicated with another so there is one on each side of the rear axle, combining to produce 264kW.
Like the regular E-Tron, the S uses a 432-cell, 95kWh lithium-ion battery stored under the cabin’s floor. As a result of the extra power, maximum driving range is down slightly from the E-Tron 55’s 400km to 360km in the E-Tron S or 365km in the more slippery E-Tron S Sportback.
The regenerative braking system in the E-Tron S allows for up to 270kW of recuperation, which the company says is more than its Formula E racecars are capable of and can contribute to roughly 30 per cent of driving range.
Charging with the 150kW DC charger can replenish the battery from five to 80 per cent in around 30 minutes, while charging can also be done on a standard 11kW home socket.
To further justify the S badge, the new EV features electric quattro all-wheel drive with special torque vectoring. In normal driving situations, the rear motors power the vehicle, with the front motor engaging when greater output is required or when the vehicle predicts wheel slip is about to occur.
The fitment of two motors on the rear axle eliminates the need for a differential, with torque delivered independently and directly. Audi says distribution between the rear wheels is calculated in milliseconds.
When accelerating out of corners, the outside wheel can put down up to 220Nm more than the inside wheel, with power constantly being delivered to the wheel that has greater traction which in turn aids stability and steering.
The torque distribution is handled by a number of software programs including ESC, DCU (drive control unit) and electronic chassis (EC) platform, all of which have been developed by Audi to ensure handling worthy of the quattro name.
The E-Tron S rides on five-link independent suspension all round, with damping rates and stabilisers tuned specifically for the sportier variant.
Normal, Sport and Offroad drive modes are available through the ESC, to go with seven drive select handling options.
Adaptive air suspension can also raise or lower suspension by up to 76mm, sitting low at high speeds and 35mm higher in Offroad mode.
Visually, the E-Tron S sits more purposefully on the road with wheelarches on both sides measuring 23mm wider than the E-Tron, while also featuring a number of defining features.
Both the front and rear bumpers have been changed for a sportier look with a full-width diffuser, while silver touches, LED lighting and 20-inch alloys enhance the look of the S.
The wagon features a drag coefficient of 0.28Cd down to 0.26Cd on the Sportback, with slim virtual mirrors helping streamline the vehicle.
Inside, Audi uses a number of recycled materials in the cabin including over 100 PET bottles, while the seats are upholstered in leather and Alcantara.
Like the E-Tron, the S features dual 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch MIB 3 multimedia screens with haptic feedback, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an optional head-up display.
A high level of safety features can be expected to be fitted – as is the case on the E-Tron – such as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, surround-view monitor and eight airbags.
Local pricing and specification will be announced closer to the vehicle’s local launch late next year. For reference, the E-Tron 55 asks $146,700, while the Sportback version starts at $157,700 plus on-road costs.
Despite the trying market conditions in 2020, a raft of new model releases has helped Audi keep afloat, with 7229 sales to the end of June – a 0.4 per cent improvement compared to the same time last year.