We’ve driven a great many Audi models over the years, and to a one they have met and often far exceeded our expectations. That’s saying a lot since Audi is a premium brand and those expectations are set pretty high. Thus was our mindset as we did an initial walk-around of our Audi e-tron S Sportback test car before heading out on the road.
Stylish in its Navarra Blue metallic finish, this e-tron sports a subtly aggressive crossover profile that flows rearward in a sleek sportback design. This softens the expected SUV roofline while lending the influences of a coupe, with the rear finishing into an integrated spoiler. Up front is a stylized closed grille as one might expect of an electric vehicle, flanked by air ducts on either side and an aggressive headlamp design with distinctive running lights. Nicely sculpted sides with pronounced rocker panels complete the package. Charge ports are provided on either side of the car below the e-tron badging on the front fenders. An electronic pushbutton releases the panel, which swings down.
A Well-Appointed Cabin
Inside the e-tron S Sportback is a well-designed and comfortable interior featuring grey Valcona leather with contrast stitching, nicely bolstered front seats, and elegant instrument panel accents. Driver information is presented in a fully-digital LCD instrument cluster featuring selectable Classic, Sport, and e-tron modes. A pair of flush, center-mounted touchscreens feature infotainment functions and controls. Below the lower screen is the start button and a cleverly-designed gear selector with a grip and thumb control.
This midsize SUV features plenty of interior space with welcome legroom and headroom, plus comfortable seating for rear passengers. Among the many conveniences afforded those in the rear are air conditioning and heating registers, plus a digital display at the rear of the center console that allows setting the desired temperature. Controls are also provided for rear seat heaters. Other niceties include pull-up window shades at each rear door window, a pair of rear map lights, and the functionality of 60/40 split folding rear seat backs for expanding cargo capacity.
Driving the Audi E-tron S Sportback
Driving the stylish and well-appointed electric e-tron S Sportback is satisfying and fun, with its three electric motors delivering great acceleration and bursts of speed on demand. These motors produce a combined 429 horsepower and 596 lb-ft torque, with a greater 496 horsepower and 718 lb-ft torque on tap during an available 8 second boost mode. This ups the ante considerably from the standard but still compelling two-motor e-tron Sportback, which features 402 horsepower/490 lb-ft torque in boost mode.
The e-tron’s ride is smooth and cornering responsive, with the car feeling well-planted as we powered through the curves on canyon roads. The cabin is quiet and well isolated from the road. If you’re inclined, as we were, you can adjust the degree of regenerative braking with paddles at either side of the steering wheel. This enables introducing greater levels of drag during coast-down while the motors generate increased electricity to feed back to the batteries. We appreciated the car’s head-up display that presents speed and posted speed limit information so eyes can remain on the road ahead. The e-tron S Sportback lends additional driving confidence since it’s also equipped with an array of the latest advanced safety and driver-assist systems.
This Audi e-tron S is Fast
Performance is impressive. The e-tron S Sportback rockets to 60 mph from a standstill in a quick 4.3 seconds with boost mode selected. Its 95 kWh lithium-ion battery delivers an estimated 212 mile driving range, with EPA fuel efficiency estimates rating this electric car at 75 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent). A full charge is achieved with a 240-volt Level 2 charger in about 10 hours, while charging from 0 to 80 percent capacity takes just 30 minutes when charging at a public 150 kW DC fast charger.
Those in the market for Audi’s more performance-oriented e-tron S Sportback will find it coming in at an MSRP of $87,400, a $18,700 premium over the standard e-tron Sportback.