a tri-motor before Tesla

Audi’s E-Tron Electric SUVs Are About to Get Way More Fun

March 3, 2020 Cars By
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The E-Tron SUV that launched last year was Audi’s statement of intent — a departure point from the internal-combustion-focused past into the brand’s vibrant electric future. But it was just the harbinger; now, the sportier side of that electric future is coming. Audi has confirmed the existing E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback (due for a U.S. arrival later this year) will soon receive high-performance S models.

The models will employ a three-motor drive system —  two on the rear axle, one on the front — which Audi says will be the first tri-motor setup to enter mass production. In normal driving, the e-motors will produce a combined 429 horsepower and 596 lb-ft of torque — but a repeatable eight-second boost mode can bump that output to 496 hp and 717 lb-ft of torque. The models will accelerate from 0-62 mph in a claimed 4.5 seconds.

For perspective, the E-Tron S’s normal mode has 80 more horsepower and 227 more lb-ft of torque than the SQ5, and its acceleration is 0.6 seconds faster than the SQ5’s 5.1-second 0-60 mph time. That said, the SQ5 begins at $52,900, which is $20,000 less than the standard E-Tron…and the S-model E-Trons will likely be even more expensive.

Audi did not mention the expected range for the E-Tron S and E-Tron Sportback S. The regular E-Tron’s 204-mile battery pack proved something of a disappointment when it was announced, at least compared with the likes of Tesla and its 300-plus-mile EVs.

There’s no word from Audi about when these cars might hit the road; the announcement was for the powertrain, not the actual cars, which suggests production models could be some time away. That said, pledging to be the first tri-motor EV in mass-production would mean Audi plans to beat the similar version of the Tesla Cybertruck, which is scheduled to reach market in late 2022.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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