Audi is well on its way to embracing the all-electric revolution in the USA, and the new 2023 Audi e-tron S Sportback is proof that it is possible to have the best of all worlds. It boasts excellent performance specifications, high levels of practicality, and good fuel economy. Powering the premium electric SUV is a trio of motors, developing a combined 429 horsepower and 596 lb-ft of torque, which the trademark quattro all-wheel drivetrain uses to deliver an engaging and controlled driving experience. Outputs can reach almost 500 hp with boost engaged, which makes for a rapid 4.3-second run to 60 mph. The e-tron Sportback's competitors, namely the Tesla Model X and BMW iX, have a little more kick to them, but their more outlandish styling may send some consumers to Audi. It's definitely an interesting alternative to the established names on the market, but will it hold its own as more and more luxury EVs enter the fray?
The Audi e-tron S Sportback SUV has only been around for a year, so the updates for the 2023 are minor. Inside the cabin, black cloth headliner is now standard, and carbon square inlays have been added. The LED interior lighting package is equipped off the factory floor, too. The Prestige trim enjoys Digital Matrix-design LED headlights.
Electric vehicles are naturally more expensive than their gasoline counterparts since they are more complex and challenging to construct. Add the fact that it is also a luxury vehicle, and the $90,800 starting price of the Audi e-tron S Sportback Premium Plus makes perfect sense. Adding some extra convenience and safety features, as well as enhanced exterior components, the Prestige trim costs $97,900. These prices are MSRP and do not include the $1,195 destination fee or any possible rebates for buying an environmentally friendly vehicle. It's worth noting that e-tron models are still eligible for potential tax credits of up to $7,500.
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As the sportier variant of the regular e-tron Sportback, expectations for how the S handles are high - and we feel it meets these. It definitely has the power to deliver a thrilling ride, and the quattro all-wheel drivetrain and sport adaptive suspension ensure that it remains grounded and confident as you push it to its limits. The motors respond well to throttle inputs, though you do sometimes have to put your food down quite hard to move the hefty beast. Even so, taking corners at speed still feels more fun than scary.
Steering is quick and easy thanks to electronic assistance, making it easy to maneuver around town or in parking lots, despite the vehicle's large size. However, the lack of feedback does dull the driving experience somewhat. The car's brakes are strong, as they need to be for such a heavy machine, and coming to a stop from even high speeds is a controlled endeavor.
The sport suspension is more tuned towards improving handling than comfort, but its adaptive nature ensures that it never lets you down in the latter area. The SUV takes bumps in its stride, even mid cornering. Road and wind noise are dampened well, and the lack of a loud combustion engine means that the ride is always quiet.
Though it has a few weaknesses, the Audi e-tron S Sportback is still extremely appealing. This is not just because of its stylish looks, or even its high-performance tri-motor setup. It is one of the most luxurious and comfortable EV SUVs you'll find, assuming you aren't over six feet tall and sitting in the back with the sloping roof line. The cargo area is easily accessible, but it's subpar in size for the segment.
Handling and power delivery can't be faulted, and the e-tron is fun to drive despite weighing over three tons. You might also think that having that much metal hurtling down the road at high speeds would be dangerous, but the Audi e-tron S Sportback's exceptional safety reviews prove otherwise. The Audi e-tron S Sportback ticks all the right boxes for a sporty family SUV, and its good fuel economy is just a nice bonus. There is only really one problem that might discourage buyers, especially those who are more familiar with the EV segment - the 212-mile range isn't great, and drops even further if you opt for larger wheels.
Neither of the two trims on offer is particularly cheap, but it's worth noting that the Prestige doesn't bring a whole lot of extra value to the table for the extra $7k investment. The Premium Plus already has most of what is available to the electric SUV since it's actually traditionally a mid-tier trim in most other Audi ranges. Therefore, we'd suggest sticking with the base model and maybe using a little bit of the money you save to option on the individual contour seat package. The tow package is also essential if you ever intend to make use of that 3,300-pound towing rating. Add Navarra Blue paint, and you'll still pay less than the top-tier model.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Audi e-tron S Sportback: