Audi e-tron S Sportback 2022 Review : Je Ne Sais Quattro
Singapore - Typically, Audi’s coveted RS and S badges are reserved for the upper echelons of Audi’s model range. Fettled by the boffins at Audi Sport GmbH, these S and RS models are the quickest, leanest, and in the case of the RS models, meanest machines coming out of Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
Simply put, you don’t get an RS or S badge on an Audi unless it’s worthy of it.
I’m no stranger to the thrills of instant acceleration forces that EVs are renowned for. It’s a captivating sensation that leaves me yearning for more, even today. The e-tron 55 Sportback I drove last year during Singapore’s inaugural EV Weekend was already a rapid car.
But this Audi e-tron S Sportback is a different animal entirely.
Audi e-tron S Sportback 2022 - On the surface
Heavy hangs the head that wears the “S” badge. But from the outset, the e-tron S Sportback certainly makes a hell of a case for itself in the looks department. Think “regular” e-tron Sportback with the aggression factor turned up a notch. It's a striking coupe SUV that turns heads, and breaks necks when it scampers off the line as the lights go green.
Audi’s signature singleframe grille dominates the front end, flanked by air curtains housed within satin silver trim inserts. An e-tron SUV fitted with the S-Line package would look similar, but the e-tron S Sportback differs from the other cars with the addition of flow-optimised wheel arch extensions that add an additional 46mm to the car’s width. At 2189mm, the e-tron S Sportback is 50mm wider than the already broad ‘base’ car. Ergo, more aggressive stance on the road.
Our Daytona Grey test car also came fitted with massive 22-inch 5-spoke rims shod in low profile 285-section rubber all round, so you’d need a little more concentration while traversing multi-storey car parks less you mar the diamond-turned 22s.
Despite the swollen wheel arches, ginormous rims and overall large footprint of the car, it somehow manages to net a drag coefficient figure of Cd 0.26.
In the cabin however, the line between “S” and “S-Line” gets increasingly blurred. On the dash, you’d find the same dual-screen setup for infotainment and HVAC functions like you get in Audi’s larger models. Along with copious amounts of glossy piano black veneer.
You get the same multi-function flat bottom steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather and the same quilted bucket-style seats. However, the e-tron S gets a few more “S” motifs dotted about the cabin, like on the aluminium door sills, the seats and on the leather palm rest over the gear selector, which now has an “S” embossed in it.
Other than that, it’s near identical to what you’d find in the e-tron SUV. Which means space-age looking tech, loads of room in the rear, an impressively large boot, stellar build quality and materials. Every reachable surface and touchpoint feels premium, even down to the haptic feedback you get whilst operating the touchscreens.
Audi e-tron S Sportback 2022 - What lies beneath
But it’s under the skin where the e-tron S Sportback begins to deviate from the other Audi e-tron models. While the other models (including the RS and standard e-tron GT) have to make do with just two electric motors, the e-tron S Sportback has three.
Combined, the triple-motor setup in the e-tron S produces 429hp and 830Nm by default. But chuck the gear selector into its sportiest setting, and you get a maximum of 496hp and 973Nm of torque on boost. That’s damn near as makes no difference a thousand newton metres of torque. For context, it’s roughly 0.00025% of the maximum thrust produced by a space shuttle.
All that torque is shuffled between the front and rear axle as and when it is required, thanks to the ingenious quattro torque vectoring system. But that also gives the e-tron S Sportback’s handling characteristics a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.
Or should I say, Je Ne Sais Quattro.
Audi e-tron S Sportback 2022 - Shock and awe
Under normal driving conditions like day to day commutes, only the two rear motors (the same motor you'd find in the front of the e-tron 55) are operational to improve efficiency. On paper, you could eke out 370km out of the 86kWh battery pack. But when you depress your right foot further, the front motor (lifted out of the rear of the e-tron 55) leaps into action to give you the full unbridled dosage of power. Obviously, you’d be looking at a lot less range if driven in such a manner.
From a standstill, the e-tron S Sportback surges from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, and it’ll continue barreling on to a top speed of 210/km.
Power delivery, while linear and very very rapid, isn’t as violent or brutal as one might expect. Sure, the typical shock-and-awe EV acceleration routine of shoving your foot into the floorboards would still rouse some noise from the car's occupants. Believe me, I’ve tried.
But there is a certain svelteness with the way this car picks up speed and handles itself around the bends. It doesn’t dispatch its full 496hp/973Nm prowess the same way some other EVs would put their power down to the road. It’s more complex than that.
Essentially, e-tron S Sportback behaves like an AWD, FWD and RWD car depending on road conditions and the driver’s needs. Coupled with the unique triple-motor setup and air springs, the car feels smaller than it actually is when you’re giving it the beans. An impressive feat for a car that tips the scales at 2.6 tons.
Send it into a corner and stomp on the throttle, and you can just about feel the back end kick out a little before the front tyres bite into the tarmac to propel you out of the bend quicker than its heft would suggest possible.
It is incredibly lithe and agile for a car of this size and weight, and that’s really saying something. The lowered centre of gravity and trick suspension setup keeps things neat and tidy even when driven more flamboyantly than necessary. You could even drift it if you so desired. Although local laws and our road network inhibited me from doing so.
And when you decide to bring an end to the fun and games, the massive 6 piston brakes up front and the car's braking regeneration can bring you to a stop quicker than the laws of physics would deem possible.
Needless to say, all this performance does come at a price. The Audi e-tron S Sportback’s starting price of $496,290 (at the time of writing) is rather steep for the average Joe. Additionally, buyers would have to contend with the car’s annual road tax which hovers above the S$6000 mark. S$6146 to be painfully precise.
However, we doubt the exorbitant annual fees of the e-tron S Sportback are enough to sway interested parties. The perceived value of the car is, in my mind at least, immeasurable by monetary standards.
It behaves unlike any other electric SUV we’ve reviewed, and (as of now) it is the only performance-oriented electric crossover in Singapore’s market. It also happens to be the first e-tron model that’s been bestowed with an S badge. And as mentioned earlier, it only gets it if it deserves it.
It might be an enigma, but it truly embodies Audi’s motto; Vorsprung Durch Technik - Advancement through technology.
PHOTOS Jay Tee
Audi e-tron S Sportback
Battery 95kWh (86kWh net), Li-Ion, 800V
Electric Motor 429hp/808 Nm
Electric Range up to 370km (WLTP)
Top Speed 210km/h (electronically limited)
LxBxH 4902 x 2189 x 1686mm
Kerbweight (DIN) 2620kg
Efficiency 26.0kWh/100km (Combined)