After launching the Audi e-Tron, the Rings brand enters the still closed world of electric sports cars. To demonstrate its know-how, it is launching the e-Tron S, which always does more: more engines, more power, more dynamism and more consumption. We were able to try it on the outskirts of Paris.
Although the Ingolstadt firm is active in the electric car segment, it is nonetheless attached to the sporting spirit which is part of its reputation. As with thermal models, the Audi e-Tron is therefore available, initially, in a more dynamic S version. To achieve its ends and show the world its knowledge of the subject, the Rings brand has made the most of electrical technology: by installing a third engine on the rear axle, Audi has developed an e-Quattro all-wheel drive which allows the heavy electric SUV (2,555 kg empty in Sportback version!) to pivot better on winding routes.
503 hp and three electric motors
To achieve this, Audi drew from the in-house organ bank and more mainly from that of the Audi e-Tron 55: the rear engine of the latter was installed at the front of the S and the front engine migrated to the rear while being accompanied by a second similar unit. You follow ? The goal is to take advantage of the most powerful mechanics, while keeping a margin for a possible RS model. In the end, the e-Tron S still retains its all-wheel drive and now develops a total power of 503 hp for 973 Nm of torque. Note that this team is only available in Sport mode and that it takes 435 hp in other operating modes.
But the advantage of this configuration is none other than the torque vectoring function at the rear. Because if the two engines are installed in the same cage to take advantage of a common cooling system, they each take care of a rear wheel. Devoid of mechanical links with shafts, gears and clutches, the differential reacts instantly to the traction needs of each wheel. And this with a maximum difference of 220 Nm between the two, or 20% of the available torque.
To benefit from this technical pirouette, however, you will need to increase the pace on the winding portions. The dual rear motorization, ultimately similar in spirit to the Honda / Acura SH-AWD system, then accelerates the outside wheel in the turn to help the e-Tron to pivot. The SUV gains in agility and serenity in the bends while managing to forget its overweight. And unlike a Honda NSX, for example, the front end retains its natural steering power. By increasing the pace on wet ground, the system allows a few easy and rewarding glides by inertia or by placing the car on the brake, before getting back on top.
By climbing a notch in the dynamic driving chapter, the e-Tron S is even suitable for improvised figures. It is in any case that suggests the communication of the manufacturer since the appearance of the eponymous concept, displayed in scabrous positions with the wheels turned in the wrong direction. But this version requires tact to be (badly) conducted in counter-steering. It will be necessary to be able to aim for the tiny window, too small for this big baby, between dismal understeer and intervention of the ESP. Because as the manufacturer tells us, the e-Tron S is not an RS model from Audi Sport, the safeguards are never entirely disconnected. The finesse is therefore required to be able to drift with a machine that was not born for that and to provide a lot of space around the vehicle: the kicks are rarely telephoned and physics quickly takes over by widening the comma.
As comfortable as a 55, more fuel consumption
If it is capable of falling from 0-100 km / h in 4.5 seconds and aiming for 210 km / h at top speed, this electric SUV does not just ask to be driven with the knife between its teeth. At a completely normal pace, it is as comfortable as the conventional version from which it derives. Despite the firmer suspensions and the recalibrated steering, it has the same quality of damping as an e-Tron 55. There is hardly any other than the rear that the suspensions will be very slightly more hopping on degraded roads. The effects of alterations made to the ground connections to be able to support the additional 50 kg of the third engine.
But it is not so much its cosmetic and interior endowment finally sober (wings widened of 23 mm to integrate air channels and badged S-badged upholstery) as its consumption which reminds you that you are indeed on board an S version. At a completely regulatory pace between Paris and the Mortefontaine track via the flat and straight roads of the Oise, the e-Tron S claimed a consumption of 31.8 kWh / 100 km. Which, based on the useful capacity of 86.5 kWh of the battery, corresponds to a total range of 272 km. By taking into account a few dynamic sessions on the road circuit, consumption rose to 37.5 kWh / 100 km (230 km of range).
Is the additional cost justified?
The Audi e-Tron S only reinforces the ineptitude represented by electric SUVs by adding a sporty feel that is not necessarily necessary on these vehicles. But were all the precursor vehicles really pragmatic? Not really. The e-Tron S shows in its own way that electric mobility and sportiness can go hand in hand. It once again displays the full potential of electric motorization which, intelligently used by engineers, can serve road handling. And just for its three engines, this SUV has interest.
But the mechanical configuration is not everything, and the reality on the ground calls to order. It will be necessary to maintain a cheerful pace to take full advantage of the technical advantage, which will further inflate already unreasonable consumption. Fortunately, the German SUV keeps its promises on fast charging stations, where it can swallow 150 kW of power up to 80%. This represents a cost of € 9.30 (€ 15.5 for 100% full filling) on Ionity terminals with the Transit subscription at € 0.31 / minute. Displayed from € 99,200 in Sportback version, the Audi e-Tron S claims an additional extension of € 12,400 compared to the 55 with a fleeting flag. Even if the technology combines the advantages, the additional cost requires a deep reflection before signing the check, especially since it will then be necessary to dig into the catalog of options.
Audi e-tron S Sportback: our opinion
- Technological aspects
- Comfort preserved
- Efficiency of Torque Vectoring
- Unreasonable overconsumption
- Salty price list
- Retro-cameras not very ergonomic