Range and price may be barriers to widespread acceptance of EVs. But Audi is betting it can increase the appeal of its e-tron by putting an emphasis on performance with the new e-tron S and e-tron Sportback S.
- The S models add a third motor, boosting power by as much as 40 percent.
- They cut more than a second off zero-to-60 mph times compared with the standard Audi e-tron.
- An 80-percent charge takes as little as 30 minutes using a 150-kW fast charger.
While range is clearly a concern, the performance offered by electric motors is one of the more appealing factors for many potential EV buyers. So, if two motors are quick, Audi says three will make its e-tron models even quicker.
The original e-tron used a small motor on the front axle, a larger one in the rear, producing a combined 350 horsepower. The e-tron S moves the big motor up front, putting two smaller ones in back — and bumping the numbers to 429-496 hp for up to eight seconds in “boost mode.” That cuts zero-to-60 mph times to an estimated 4.3 seconds — a second quicker than the original EV.
Audi hasn’t yet said what range will be with the S models. It’s a fairly weak 204 miles with the original e-tron SUV. (Photo: Audi)
The e-tron has been faulted for less-than-stellar EPA-rated range of just 204 miles per charge, despite having a hefty, 95 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Audi has yet to reveal what the e-tron S models will get, but has tried to minimize the impact of the more powerful drivetrain.
“The drive has been programmed for efficiency in everyday life; in normal driving mode, only the rear electric motors work,” the automaker explained in a statement. “The front drive is unpowered but switches itself on — with the driver barely noticing — if the driver needs more power.”
Visually, the S models feature wider wheel arches, a revised diffuser, and larger air curtains to reduce aero drag around the wheels, helping to boost range.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Audi is borrowing a page from Tesla’s playbook, playing up the solid performance electric motors can deliver with new S versions of the e-tron and e-tron Sportback.