For the fortieth anniversary of the Quattro brand, Audi is launching the e-Tron S Sportback, a sportier version of its electric SUV. More powerful but also heavier, this new model takes more or less the ingredients of the classic model.
There is no question for Audi to talk about a sport model. The e-Tron S Sportback is positioned between a classic model and the RS line – a real sporty range from the German manufacturer. In reality, it has a boost of power (100 horses all the same) very practical for the revivals and the insertions in the traffic. An extra soul that will also delight thrill seekers.
However, one cannot help but wonder about the very idea of such a vehicle. To date, range is the main constraint for electric cars. With its first SUV (read our review of the Audi e-Tron Sportback 55 Quattro), Audi managed to limit the damage with all the same 350 kilometers for a full charge.
This new sportier version gains in power, but is heavier with a third engine while retaining the same battery. Difficult then to be optimistic about the autonomy of this machine of more than 2 tons.
We got behind the wheel of the Audi e-Tron S Sportback for a day. After a trip between Paris and the Mortefontaine test center (Oise), we subjected it to a series of tests on the track and workshops. What is Audi’s electric and sporty SUV worth? Trial.
Line, interior, ergonomics
The e-Tron S Sportback largely takes the aesthetics of thermal models. We therefore find the atypical design of a coupe SUV mixing rounded curves and angular lines. Electric requires, the four exhaust outlets disappear.
Among the most noticeable changes are the 5cm wider fenders, 285mm tires mounted on 20-22 inch rims, and silver mirror caps and brackets. Audi is also proposing to replace traditional mirrors with two cameras improving aerodynamics.
Finally, the red “S” logo on the front and back recalls the more sporty character of the machine.
No big changes inside either. The manufacturer still relies on a black and aluminum interior with the S-Line equipment and finishes (virtual cockpit, airplane joystick-style gear lever, touchscreen interface, wireless charger, etc.).
Only the sports seats, the “S” logo (present on the steering wheel, the seats and the gear lever) and the red LEDs around the start button indicate that we are indeed behind the wheel of a more sporty model.
Our trial version had camera mirrors, an option billed at 1800 euros. Return screens are placed laterally in front of the doors. A destabilizing, even dangerous positioning, the glance forcing us to briefly look away from the road.
Audi does not therefore revolutionize the aesthetics of its SUV but brings a few touches here and there justifying its status as a more sporty model. The driving position is pleasant, the interior spacious and the upholstery comfortable. On the other hand, we would not have been against a more premium finish, the plastic covering most of the cabin.
Performance and driving
The advantage of an electric vehicle is that it does not force engineers to completely rethink the engine to obtain the “S” badge. To improve the performance of the e-Tron 55 Quattro, Audi brains have added a motor on the rear axle. Simply.
This weighs down the beast by about fifty pounds, but increases its power to 503 horsepower, against 408 previously in the best equipped version. Audi announces a maximum torque of 973 Nm, a top speed of 210 km / h but above all a 0 to 100 km / h in 4.5 seconds (in Boost / Sport mode).
Credible figures in view of our experience. Foot to the floor, the e-tron S Sportback takes you at blazing speed and reminds you in good memory of Newton’s laws. Your entire body hugs the back of the seat in deafening silence. In short, it’s mind-blowing!
If this feeling fades as you gain speed, the acceleration required for overtaking is a reminder of how powerful this e-Tron is. You would almost forget that you are driving an SUV.
Beyond speed and acceleration, the third engine brings more agility and flexibility to driving. It adjusts the torque between the right and left wheels, in addition to the front and rear.
You can then follow the curves without fear of leaving the road, including on wet ground. Aided by ESP, the e-Tron S Sportback stays the course in tighter curves. Still on the track, you can even allow yourself to exit a turn with your foot to the floor and the front wheels slightly counter-steered. drift.
To achieve this, engineers have developed a system at odds with what we know until now. The outer wheel (and not the inner wheel) is responsible for maintaining the trajectory. Confusing, but formidably effective.
If it passes the various test workshops with flying colors (skids, emergency braking, straight line acceleration, slalom, etc.), as we will see, the naturalness of the e-Tron S Sportback comes back at a gallop. on the road.
Mounted on 21 inch rims (optional), our test model had more difficulty than the e-Tron 55 Quattro in cushioning road defects. This is probably due to the lower arm chocks 50% stiffer and the anti-roll bars 20% stiffer. Modifications necessary to support the additional 50 kg of the third engine.
This “S” version especially tends to cause some scares when approaching bends or in the event of an emergency stop. The braking system, while effective, requires more anticipation to slow down this 2.5 ton monster.
The e-Tron S Sportback retains the same battery (95 kWh of which 86.5 kWh useful) as the 55 Quattro version, but is heavier and more powerful. Audi is therefore reviewing the range slightly downwards: according to him, count between 354 and 368 km with a full charge, or consumption of 26.9 to 27.6 kWh / 100km (WLTP).
In fact, these estimates turn out to be quite optimistic. During our trip between Paris and the test center (about 50 km in town, on motorways and country roads), we recorded a consumption of 31 kWh / 100km, i.e. a range of 300 km for reasonable driving.
After the tests on circuit and plateau, consumption climbed to 36 kWh / 100km, i.e. a range of around 260 km. If you found the e-Tron 55 Quattro to lack endurance, this edition might disappoint you.
The electro-hydraulic braking system “Brake-by-wire” yet promised to improve all this. This technology ensures energy recovery during braking in three stages: coasting, simulating the engine brake (using manual controls on the steering wheel) and pressing the pedal (system One pedal).
The German manufacturer announces a recovery of 270 kW from 100 km / h, i.e. “More than the 250 kW of a Formula-E”. Insufficient to counter the laws of physics: power and being overweight do not mix.
To reassure buyers, Audi is counting on an increasingly extensive network of charging stations. In Europe the service Ionity has 326 charging stations, including 72 in France, and 144 Audi France sites are equipped with a 50 kW terminal.
The e-Tron S Sportback can be recharged to 80% in 30 minutes and to 100% in 50 minutes on 150 kW terminals (approximately € 15 per full charge). Allow 2 hours on the 50 kW terminals (0.25 € / min or 30 €), 4 hours on 22 kW (0.05 € / min or 12 €) and 8:30 on 11 kW (at home for example). With regard to consumption, we hope that you like the motorway rest areas.
As you might expect, autonomy is the main weak point of this e-Tron S Sportback. Moving a 2.5 ton machine with such power requires too much energy for comfortable daily use. Engineers do wonders, not miracles.
Our opinion on the Audi e-Tron S Sportback
Technically, the e-Tron S Sportback stands out as a powerhouse. Beyond its speed and acceleration, Audi’s 1st sports electric SUV is surprisingly agile for a machine of this size. If it did not require you to anticipate further braking on the road, you would almost forget its weight of 2.5 tonnes.
Almost, because moving this behemoth with so much power also requires a lot of energy. Too much energy. This will undoubtedly require you to spend a lot of time near the charging stations. Unless your vehicle is used only for everyday journeys, in which case the interest of a sporty electric SUV at more than 100,000 euros is of little interest. Finally this e-Tron S Sportback embodies the ultimate Audi SUVs. A beautiful technological showcase, unfortunately not recommended for everyday use.
Audi e-Tron S Sportback (2021)
Line and finishes
9.0 / 10
9.0 / 10
Autonomy and recharging
4.0 / 10
- Elegant lines
- Comfort and finishes
We like less
- Too heavy
- Autonomy much too tight
- Be careful to anticipate braking