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Clever electric drivetrain and torque vectoring result in great pace and engaging handling
16 July 2020

What is it?

To gain extra performance kudos in the electric car ranks, it is no longer sufficient to endow your top model with just one electric motor. To really stand out, you need two or, as is the case with the Audi E-tron S Sportback driven here, three. 

That’s right, three electric motors: a larger one sitting up front and two smaller units nestled within a subframe in the axle at the rear. Together, they develop 429bhp and 596lb ft of torque, which is 27bhp and 107lb ft more than the twin motor E-tron 55 Sportback.

That’s not all, though. A so-called overboost function triggered on kickdown in Sport mode adds a further 67bhp and 122lb ft for brief periods of full-throttle thrust, taking the E-tron S Sportback’s overall reserves to rather potent 496bhp and 718lb ft.

What's it like?

And what thrust! The car may tip the scales well beyond two tonnes, but all that torque makes for memorable off-the-line getaways. Acceleration is instant and none too subtle as the driveline loads up. The official 0-62mph time (4.5sec) really doesn’t do it justice. It always feels faster on a loaded throttle.  

The deployment of the combined reserves is controlled by a newly developed four-wheel drive system. As well as offering three levels of energy recuperation, it also incorporates a new electronic torque vectoring system, giving the E-tron S Sportback the ability to individually control the amount of drive fed to each individual rear wheel with greater accuracy than any of Audi’s existing systems. It’s described as being significantly faster than any of its current mechanical systems, too.

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Agility is outstanding, aided by a low centre of gravity, and so is traction, which clearly benefits from the speed at which the drive can switch from front to rear and between each of the rear wheels. Both improve on those of the E-tron Sportback, itself a very impressive car in its own right.

The variable-ratio steering is lacking in ultimate feel, but the chassis is well up to the job. You can hook the E-tron S Sportback up with lurid oversteer on a circuit. On public roads, the handling proves entertainingly fluid, if perhaps not quite as whip-crack sharp as Audi would have you believe.

It doesn't ride as calmly as the E-tron 55 Sportback, either. Firmer springs and uprated dampers do a great job of reining in body movement, but in combination with the standard 285/45-profile 21in tyres fitted to our test car, they also take the edge off the ride refinement. There’s greater vertical movement over pockmarked roads and the E-tron S Sportback is more sensitive to coarse surfaces than its more softly sprung and liberally damped sibling.

With a 95kWh lithium ion battery, the claimed range is quite respectable at 227 miles on the WLTP test cycle. Judicious use of the throttle quickly depletes energy reserves, though. Along with standard mains power, the new Audi can be charged at either 11kW via a wallbox or a rapid 150kW charger.

Visually, the E-tron S Sportback is differentiated from the E-tron Sportback by its unique front wings, which are 23mm wider than the E-tron 55 Sportback's to house wheels of up to 22in in diameter. The car also boasts a new front bumper design.

Buyers can choose between the Sportback bodystyle here, or the more upright stance of the E-tron SUV model, which brings added versatility and a larger boot.

Should I buy one?

The E-tron S Sportback lives up to its billing as Audi’s most athletic electric model. It’s more sporting in character than the milder E-tron 55 Sportback. A definitive verdict will come once we get the chance to drive it on UK roads, but based on its strengths on smooth-surfaced German roads, it gets a clear thumbs-up.

Audi E-tron S Sportback specification

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Where Germany Price £88,700 On sale September Engine 3 asynchronous electric motors Power 496bhp Torque 718lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Kerb weight 2620kg Top speed 131mph 0-62mph 4.5sec Range 227 miles (WLTP combined) CO2 0g/km Rivals Telsa Model X, Mercedes-EQ C 400 4Matic

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Comments
14

16 July 2020

88k and realistic range of 220, but read less than 200 miles in real life. Ouch!

I love EV cars but thats not cheap for the honour of driving one, even a premium one

 

16 July 2020

it will be obsolete within a few years ,as soon as quantum solid state is manufactured ,prices will tumble for battery packs along with shedding that horrendous weight they carry and £90 k only to be purchased as company cars as it is the main way to encourage ev by no tax and duty on the power unlike diesel and petrol and no benefit in kind tax but for private buyers best to avoid ev and go hybrid ir full i,c,e for next 5 years.

16 July 2020

Only 220 miles on 95kw? And then I saw the weight – are they using lead acid batteries? It makes the Tesla S seem quite svelt at half a ton less.

19 July 2020
fleabane wrote:

Only 220 miles on 95kw? And then I saw the weight – are they using lead acid batteries? It makes the Tesla S seem quite svelt at half a ton less.

 

Agree. Shocking stats. It might be nice on a test drive but this Audi is shocking from an efficiency point of view. 

16 July 2020

 Priced and ranged out. Another tired and hopeless attempt to to compete with 2012 Tesla. Audi is looking more ridiculous every day.

16 July 2020
FRI2 wrote:

 Priced and ranged out. Another tired and hopeless attempt to to compete with 2012 Tesla. Audi is looking more ridiculous every day.

Are you sure it competes against Tesla at all? I see no mention of the Audi catching fire, taking control from the driver and crashing, or being flatbedded home 5 days in a row. Goddamn fools in Audi don't know the first thing about to making a laughably-finished unreliable death trap! Amateurs!

16 July 2020

You are being a bit premature there. Audi has only just launched this car. Tesla has several hundred thousnd or is it nearer a million vehicles out there already, some are bound to have faults. Build quality on the American is getting better all the time. Give the Audi time and I am sure there will be a few mishaps with that car like fires etc along the way. As for competition, you are right The audi doesnt even compete in terms of the tesla performance and range and arent even up to where tesla were with the model S 8 years ago!

Just saying...

17 July 2020
Folsom wrote:

FRI2 wrote:

 Priced and ranged out. Another tired and hopeless attempt to to compete with 2012 Tesla. Audi is looking more ridiculous every day.

Are you sure it competes against Tesla at all? I see no mention of the Audi catching fire, taking control from the driver and crashing, or being flatbedded home 5 days in a row. Goddamn fools in Audi don't know the first thing about to making a laughably-finished unreliable death trap! Amateurs!

Hehehehe!

Comedy GOLD!

16 July 2020
There is something about the phrase 'torque vectoring' that makes me feel very ill.

16 July 2020
Nothing to see here, let's move along... Go buy an I-Pace, sit peacefully in comfort, knowing you bought British and bought better!

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