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Test drive: LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the Audi e-tron S Sportback

By Lisa Curtiss  |  June 21, 2021
Audi e-tron S Sportback

A top contender as leader of the all-electric pack is Audi’s stunning e-tron S Sportback. This substantial, striking and head-turning model couples ample kerb appeal with impressive power, performance and electro-eco creds.

This first Audi all-electric S model is also the first production vehicle in the world to boast three electric motors – one powering the front wheels and two powering the rears, producing a hefty 370kW and thrilling thrust of torque surging to 973Nm in Boost Mode and even 808Nm without. This takes the car to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds – impressive for a sizable car weighing in at over two tonnes.

Performance is meaningless without decent handling though, but as one of Audi’s elite S models, you know you’re in for a rewarding, dynamic, yet safe, drive. The model’s electric quattro system shares the task of getting a grip on the road between all four wheels and torque vectoring distributes driving force between the two rears with millisecond-targeted precision. For a large car, out on test it proved to be a remarkably swift, agile, instantly responsive and thoroughly engaging drive.

Audi e-tron S Sportback

One of the concerns for many when it comes to choosing an all-electric car is the worry of a limited driving range and being caught short power-wise mid route, miles away from home. This model however features a high-voltage battery with a gross energy capacity of 95kWh, of which 91 percent (86kWh) is usable. With one battery charge it’s capable of achieving up to around 226 miles – enough to please and reassure most and make those trips out to the coast or country a pleasure.

In addition to a practical range and excellent performance, the e-tron S Sportback is a stylish, spacious, comfortable and super-high-tech car. Looks-wise, prominent bumpers and flared wheel arches create an extra 5cm of width over standard models and the sculpted curves and bold sweeping lines give more than a hint to its impressive performance pedigree.

There’s a choice of eight attractive colours and our test car in Catalunya Red metallic was particularly eye-catching, set off nicely by 21″ ‘5-Y-spoke Rotor’ gloss anthracite black diamond cut sport alloy wheels, selenite silver intakes and surrounds, and a panoramic sunroof. We also appreciated Audi’s excellent Matrix LED digital headlights, which are activated, deactivated or dimmed individually according to the driving environment.

Audi e-tron S Sportback

Slip inside to discover a cabin that’s as attractive, roomy and comfortable as it is tech-rich. The supportive, electronically-adjustable, heated front S Sport seats were in a tasteful rotor grey valcona leather with anthracite diamond stitching and S logo embossing. Deluxe 2-zone electronic climate control with remote preconditioning allowed us to heat or cool the car before entry, and rear passengers enjoyed plenty of rear legroom, as unlike many other electric cars, the e-tron’s battery is positioned underneath the car, so there is no need for space-taking central tunnel. There’s a sizable boot to fill which at 615 litres, can accommodate a mammoth Waitrose shop or enough cases for a long family vacation.

As you’d expect from an Audi and car of this calibre, there’s ample state-of-the art tech to enjoy. Included is MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch and Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus – two high-definition, excellent touch screen colour displays and a full-colour, fully digital Audi Virtual Cockpit with additional Sport and e-tron displays. Plus a 36-month subscription to Audi Connect, which provides high-speed 4G internet access in your car via an embedded SIM card with no data charge.

Audi e-tron S Sportback

This includes navigation with Google Earth, destination input via myAudi or Google Maps, access to Google, weather and news online and travel information. There’s also Parking System Plus to guide you into tight spots with a rear camera and parking sensors at the front and back, and Cruise Control, Smartphone Interface and more. All new customers receive a free 7kW Pod Point wall box, plus a complimentary one-year subscription to e-tron Charging Service and £150 credit, which enables the car to be charged at over 140,000 charging stations across Europe in 24 countries using just one card.

To summarise, Audi’s e-tron S Sportback will take some beating as being one of the world’s most desirable all-electric models. Seamlessly marrying ample style, space, comfort and refinement with potent and engaging power and pace, this is a true driver’s delight, yet still practical, eco-conscious and family friendly too.

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