2022 Audi e-tron S Review


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Audi’s first S-badged EV arrives with the handsome and capable e-tron S.

After a day of swift and near-silent running from Canberra to Wagga Wagga, via Cooma and some of the best roads in the Snowy Mountains – a total distance of nearly 400km – it’s easy to fall for the charms of Audi’s new e-tron S. Available in both SUV (from $168,400) and Sportback (from $175,400) body styles, the S variant slips into Audi’s range above the e-tron that pioneered the brand’s move to electrification back in 2019 (2020 in Australia).

Audi’s much-delayed RS e-tron GT will be the brand’s first RS-badged EV when it arrives in the fourth quarter of this year.

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The e-tron S builds on the handsome if conventional looks of the e-tron with 23mm wider wheel arches (a design and technical flourish usually reserved for RS variants), a more aggressive rear diffuser and orange brake calipers. The standard wheels measure 21 inches in diameter, though 22-inch alloys are optional ($1600). Also optional for $3500 are Audi’s virtual exterior mirrors that replace the traditional glass mirrors with streamlined cameras (for improved aero performance) and that project the image onto screens built into the uppers of the door cards. They take some time to acclimatise to, but generally work well once you’ve adjusted. Audi says that take up rate for them on the regular e-tron is running at around 40 per cent.

Audi also thinks that the S variant will account for the majority of e-tron sales going forward.

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At $168,400 for the SUV and $175,400 for the Sportback, the e-tron S sits $19,500 and $15,500 respectively above the e-tron. Some of its competitive set includes the $169,900 BMW iX iDrive50 Sport and the $141,300 Mercedes-Benz EQC 4Matic Sport (admittedly a smaller car). Porsche’s Taycan 4 Cross Turismo starts at $176,600, while Audi’s ICE-powered SQ7 starts at $164,400.

Though Tesla now offers a three-motor model in some markets, Audi’s e-tron S was the pioneer when it came to offering a triple-motor electric drivetrain. The front axle is powered by a 150kW, 355Nm motor, while at the rear you’ll find a pair of 132kW, 309Nm motors. Total system output is 320kW and 808Nm, though boost mode gives you 370kW and 973Nm for burst of eight seconds. In regular mode, the all-wheel-drive e-tron S will accelerate to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds, and 4.5 seconds with boost mode activated.

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The quattro AWD system defaults to a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split in normal driving and there’s electronic torque vectoring on the back axle.

Power comes from a 95kWh lithium-ion battery (86.5kWh net) that’s familiar from the e-tron 55. The e-tron S supports 150kW DC fast charging and is supplied with an 11kW AC home charging kit. A 22kW charger is available for $6900. On a 150kW DC fast charger, the battery can be replenished to 80 per cent in 30 minutes, while a full charge takes 45 minutes.

On the more lenient NEDC test cycle, the e-tron S claims a range of 413km for the SUV and 418km for the Sportback. Closer to the real world, WLTP figures suggest 344km for the SUV and 372km for the Sportback.

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Over our 388km test loop, we averaged 27.8kWh/100km, seeing a peak consumption of 47.8kWh/100km on some of the steeper and more engaging roads of the Snowies (maximum elevation was 1350 metres). Official claimed consumption is 26.4kWh/100km for the SUV and 26-even for the Sportback.

To ensure that we’d make Wagga Wagga, Audi organised a splash and dash at Cooma during the product presentation. Of the four e-tron S variants on the launch, three (including ours) arrived with around 30km of range left, while the fourth just scrapped home with 12km showing and a warning of reduced performance. It’s worth noting that the launch was conducted in three waves, and journalists on other waves reported nearly 60km of remaining range.

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On the road, there’s no radical transformation from the e-tron 55 to the e-tron S. There are degrees more performance and dynamic capability, making the S effortlessly faster across a decent road but without any dramatic change in character or sacrifices in comfort. Acceleration is strong rather than overwhelming, but the near-silent manner in which it fires down the road might cause some initial imbalance in the inner ear. At 2580kg, the weight of e-tron S is difficult to disguise and there’s some reluctance to change direction, but the relatively heavy steering does a decent job of telegraphing the limits of the front end.

You’ll find multi-links at either end in concert with air springs, and the suspension does a good job of maintaining ride quality while also controlling body and wheel movements. In comfort mode, the body can take an extra beat to settle, but otherwise there’s little to distinguish between the modes.

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We sampled the e-tron S Sportback on standard 21-inch wheels, with 285/40 tyres and there’s grip aplenty. If you fail to respect the weight, you can overwhelm the front tyres and push the nose wide, so it’s better to wind back a notch or two and float the Audi EV along in a more measured manner.

You could argue that the new e-tron S doesn’t provide the expected/traditional step-up over the e-tron that an S variant usually adds over a doner A or Q model, but it’s still an impressive offering. The Audi e-tron S might be an obvious addition to the line-up, but its blend of performance, luxury, technology and safety ensures that it’s a welcome one.

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Audi’s first S-badged EV arrives with the handsome and capable e-tron S. After a day of swift and near-silent running from Canberra to Wagga Wagga, via Cooma and some of the best roads in the Snowy Mountains – a total distance of nearly 400km –...2022 Audi e-tron S Review