Audi claims this is the first production BEV to use three electric motors.
If you're craving more performance from Audi's first electric SUV, the German automaker has unveiled hot new S versions of the e-tron and e-tron Sportback. The 2021 Audi e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback represent a significant milestone for EVs as Audi claims these are the first volume-production BEVs to utilize three electric motors, with two electric motors on the rear axle and one at the front. Combined, this setup generates 496 horsepower and 717 lb-ft of torque, although the maximum level of torque is only available for eight-second boost periods. 0-62 mph takes 4.5 seconds before the e-tron S maxes out at 130 mph.
Providing the juice is a high-voltage battery with a gross energy capacity of 95 kWh, 91 percent (86 kWh) of which is usable. On a full charge, the Audi e-tron S and the Audi e-tron S Sportback can achieve estimated ranges of up to 223 miles and 226 miles based on the European WLTP test cycle.
To improve efficiency, only the rear electric motors are engaged when the Audi e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback are in normal driving mode. The front electric motor is activated when more performance is required or before traction is lost.
The rear electric motors sends torque directly to each wheel via a single-speed transmission, so there is no more mechanical differential. Compared to the standard e-tron models, the drivetrain has a more pronounced rear bias for a sportier driving experience. If you fancy some sideways action, setting the ESC stabilization control to "sport" and the Audi drive select dynamic handling system to "dynamic" mode will make the e-tron S easier to drift. The suspension also has S-specific tuning and can vary the ride height by up to three inches depending on the driving situation and setting applied.
As standard, the Audi e-tron S models are equipped with 21-inch wheels housing large disc brakes with fixed six-piston calipers painted in black with the S logo. Optional 22-inch wheels will be available at a later date and the calipers can be painted in bright orange on request and decorated with the e-tron logo.
Visually, the e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback are two inches wider than their standard counterparts thanks to 0.9-inch-wider wheel arches. Elsewhere, the front and rear bumpers look more aggressive with more pronounced contours and prominent inlets and a rear diffuser spans almost the entire width of the body. Silver trim at the front and rear, and aluminium exterior mirror caps further set the e-tron S apart.
Both models can be equipped with optional Digital Matrix LED headlights. To improve the aerodynamics, Audi has fitted airflow-optimized wheel-arch extensions, allowing the e-tron S to achieve a drag coefficient of 0.28. These enhancements also enable the e-tron S Sportback to slice through the air with a coefficient of just 0.26. There's also a controllable air inlet to cool the brakes that only opens when necessary.
Inside, the adjustable sport seats are finished in Nappa leather and embossed with the 'S,' combined with decorative inserts in either brushed aluminum or carbon. In terms of tech, the e-tron S models are equipped with Audi's digital MMI touch response control system with two large central displays, Audi virtual cockpit, MMI navigation plus control and infotainment system, and a head-up display.
US pricing and availability haven't been announced yet. In the UK, the 2021 Audi e-tron S will start at £87,000 ($108,245), while the 2021 e-tron Sportback will start at £88,700 ($110,360).