- audi has officially shown the high-performance s version of the e-tron electric suv.
- it has 496 horsepower and comes in both standard e-tron and e-tron sportback forms.
- we don't know if or when the e-tron s will reach the u.s. market.
while there is much to like about the audi e-tron, it has never been able to get close to the level of performance that buyers of even mid-spec teslas enjoy. that gap now looks set to shrink with confirmation of s versions of both the regular e-tron and the sleeker e-tron sportback.
while the regular e-tron has two electric motors, the s has three. the more powerful motor that powers the standard e-tron's rear axle has been switched to the front of the e-tron s, with a pair of the regular car's less powerful front motor now working at the back of the faster model, each powering one rear wheel through single-speed reductions.
audi hasn't released power specifications for the individual motors but the claimed total output is 496 horsepower. audi also claims a peak combined torque output of 718 lb-ft, with both this and the maximum power available for up to eight seconds at a time. the company also claims a 4.5-second zero-to-62-mph time for the e-tron s, 1.2 seconds faster than the comparable time for the regular car. (we ran the 2019 e-tron from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, suggesting this should be capable of low-4s.) top speed is limited to 130 mph.
the e-tron s defaults to rear-wheel drive under gentle use, with the front motor adding performance when required, or increasing stability when the back starts to run short on grip. the use of twin motors at the rear will also allow for torque vectoring across that axle, and what audi promises is the "capacity to perform controlled drifts." the e-tron s can also redistribute torque across its front axle by braking.
an air suspension is standard, with this having both the firmer tune that audi regards as being appropriate to its s models and the ability to vary ride height by up to three inches depending on speed, conditions, and which of its seven different dynamic modes the car is in. s versions of the e-tron have also been given a two-inch wider track than the regular car, this calling for plastic wheel-arch extensions. 21-inch wheels are standard, and audi says that european buyers will be able to specify a 22-inch option. the s also getting upgraded six-piston brake calipers at the front.
the s's 95.0-kwh lithium-ion battery pack is the same as in the regular e-tron, with the extra performance coming with a reduction in range. under the european wltp testing protocol, the e-tron s has a range of 223 miles and the sportback s 226 miles—about 50 miles less than the less powerful cars. given the limited correlation between those numbers and epa figures, we will have to wait to see how the s does over here, presuming it makes it to the states, but it seems certain to provide less range than the official 218 mile range of the u.s.-spec 2020 e-tron sportback.
the e-tron s and e-tron sportback s will be going on sale in europe later this year. we'll bring you news on audi u.s's plans for the e-tron s as well as prices and specs as soon as we get them.