The Audi e-tron S is a surprisingly fun 500hp SUV

By topgear, 03 July 2020

This is the all-electric, all-wheel-drive e-tron S, and it’ll throw shapes like few Audis before it. Seriously. We drove a prototype in February (remember ‘February’?) and found it to be about as playful as fast four-ring-badged cars get. Now, after a small delay, we’ve caught glimpse of the production version.

So while at first glance it’s an e-tron that’s a wee bit quicker and more aggressive looking than normal, it’s so much more, too: the dawning of a new era of S-badged cars which use an abundance of electric motors to offer much broader handling characteristics than their petrol and diesel powered predecessors.

Audi’s engineers have seen the potential for fun nestled amongst electric motors at each axle (and in time, each wheel) and fully rinsed it. The standard e-tron uses two electric motors, one at either end of the car, for totals of 405hp and 664Nm. The e-tron S adds an extra motor to the rear axle for peak outputs of 500hp and 972Nm, with the ability for 90 per cent of its propulsion to come from the rear axle.

(We already had a ball of a time with the 'regular' Audi e-tron... click HERE to read about it)

So in Comfort mode, the S provides the unflappable AWD experience Audi’s peddled since the Quattro launched in 1980; cheeky little hints of power being deployed at the rear, but only ever for an utmost professional cornering attitude. This is the car for when a snowpocalypse suddenly strikes and you’re still intent on getting home.

Dynamic mode, however, is for the empty supermarket car park when you’ve got back in one piece. It’s not a hooligan on the surface, but loosen the stability control and it’ll allow some quite outrageous angles of oversteer with only mild provocation. Pointless? Yes. Fun? Also yes.

If you want bald stats, then 0-100km/h takes 4.5secs and its top speed is 210km/h. Normally we’re sceptical of such things, but at least the swoopier shape lends the e-tron better aero and thus a longer range between charges, its 360km up over one per cent on its base car’s 358km. Yeah, you might have to drive Quite Far to negate the price premium with electricity bill savings…

STORY Stephen Dobie

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