317kW/973Nm Audi e-Tron S heralds new era for S badged Audi cars

The new Audi e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback are expected to arrive in Australia in the second-half of 2021.

The Audi e-Tron is the brand’s first all-electric SUV (it looks more like a wagon) while the e-Tron S is a bit quicker and more aggressive looking.

But it’s so much more than that. See, the e-Tron S is the first all-electric Audi to wear the S badge. And the letter, S, if you’re an Audi fancier, well, you’ll know it stands for performance.

And the e-Tron S ain’t short on GO. In S gear, the three electric motors thump out a full-throated 370kW and 973Nm of torque which is enough to get to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 210km/h.

The S models have two electric motors on the rear axle and one on the front axle, making them the first mass-produced electric cars in the world to have three electric motors. The high-voltage battery has a gross energy capacity of 95 kWh, of which 91 percent (86 kWh) is usable. With one battery charge, the Audi e-tron S and the Audi e-tron S Sportback achieve ranges of up to 360km and 365km respectively.

Unlike regular Audi quattro cars, the e-Tron S runs its rear motors until slip is detected or the driver floors the throttle and then the front motor kicks in. And those rear motors have electric torque vectoring, so no mechanical differential to shuffle torque from side to side.

This rear drive bias helps the e-Tron S to drift…According to Audi, “If the ESC stabilisation control is set to “sport” and the Audi drive select dynamic handling system is set to maximum performance in “dynamic” mode, the drive layout facilitates a high level of transverse dynamics and, upon request, controlled drifts as well”.

The batteries for the e-Tron S are mounted lower than the motors to reduce the centre of gravity and improve handling. The steering builds speed as lock is applied and thanks to adjustable, adaptive air suspension, the ride height can be adjusted by up to 76mm. The e-Tron S rides on 20-inch wheels but you can get 21s and 22s will be available next year.

The e-Tron S runs six-piston fixed calipers at the front and sliding calipers at the rear. And the brakes slam on too, with the pads in full contact with the discs after just 150 milliseconds.

Like all good performance Audis, the e-Tron S features pumped guards 23mm wider than the regular e-Tron. And there’s plenty of clever going on with the design. The pumped guards have been flow optimised to not only look good but help make the e-Tron S slipperier. And the brake cooling ducts are active, meaning they can open or close as needed depending on the driving situation. And there’s a heat pump as standard, which takes waste heat and returns it into the vehicle.

As far as driving is concerned, the energy recuperation system offers three driving levels, meaning, says Audi, drivers can experience a noticeable one-pedal feeling. 

Australia is expected to get the e-Tron S and Sportback in the second-half of 2021 with Audi Australia promising to release pricing and specs closer to that time.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.