I have largely not cared about the Audi E-Tron electric crossover, but that has just changed. Audi threw in another electric motor and called it the Audi E-Tron S, and it peaks at almost 500 horsepower and 718 lb-ft of torque.
Well, technically Audi is pulling the same trick twice. The same upgrades on the E-Tron S will come on the E-Tron S Sportback too.
Audi moved the big motor from the rear-axle of the normal E-Tron up to the front axle, and then thew on two smaller electric motors on the rear axle, for a tri-motor layout. The front-axle motor only activates when the driver pushes for more power, or when grip levels diminish.
In normal driving, the E-Tron S makes a combined output of 420 HP and 596 lb-ft of torque. In the “S” drive mode, the car has a boost feature that can increase power up to 496 HP and 717.6 lb-ft of torque for up to 8 seconds at a time. With boost, the 0 to 60 MPH time is claimed to be 4.5 seconds. Top speed is held back to 130 MPH.
Audi claims it only takes “around half an hour” for the battery to juice from 5 to 80 percent state-of-charge when connected to a 150 kilowatt charger. There’s no mention of range figures for the E-Tron S models just yet, though.
For comparison, the regular E-Tron only boosts up to a max power level of 402 HP and 490 lb-ft of torque, with an EPA-estimated range of 204 miles.
All that power with a rear bias? You know what I’m thinking, and the Audi press release is thinking it too: “The drive layout facilitates a high level of transverse dynamics and, on request, controlled drifts as well.” That’s cool, but also funny as Audi once told me it wouldn’t do “drift mode.”
To handle all this power is an electronic torque vectoring system and wider tires, now at 11.2 inches on all of the available 20, 21, and 22-inch wheel options. The prototype photos included in the release ride on 20-inch wheels, for reference.
Externally, the wheel arches are wider and there’s been a tweak to the design, with the changes highlighted on the prototype in the photos. I think the prototype camo is good enough to ship on customer cars, but it won’t be, so I don’t know why they didn’t photograph a painted car.