Audi e-tron Sportback performance, top speed & motor

The Audi e-tron Sportback feels quite heavy and cumbersome car to drive; it's relaxing, but not that much fun

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

3.0 out of 5

Fuel Type:
Electric
Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
e-tron Sportback 50 quattro6.8s118mphFour308bhp
e-tron Sportback 55 quattro5.7s124mphFour402bhp
e-tron S Sportback 55 quattro4.5s130mphFour496bhp

Our first taste of the e-tron Sportback was in 55 form, and we’ve subsequently tried this model on UK roads, too. This is the mid-range offering in a three-strong line-up – below it sits the entry-level 50, while above is the high-performance S. In the 55, the quattro all-wheel-drive system is enabled by a pair of electric motors – one on each axle – while the S uses a three-motor setup, with two of the 55's front-motor axles at its rear, and an adapted version of the standard car's rear-axle motor at the front.

And yet for all this grip and performance, you hear nothing inside. The way Audi insulates its cars’ occupants from the outside world has always been impressive, but the engineers appear to have stepped things up a notch with the e-tron and e-tron Sportback. It’s genuinely one of the quietest cars we’ve ever had the pleasure of travelling in. The ride is excellent, even on 21-inch alloy wheels.

Audi e-tron Sportback 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

Performance isn’t lacking. whichever version of the Sportback you go for. Even the entry-level 50 quattro car gets from 0-62mph in less than seven seconds and can reach nearly 120mph, courtesy of a healthy 308bhp power output. With almost another 100bhp on tap, the 55 quattro shoots from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds and will keep going to 124mph flat out. The range is topped out by the 496bhp e-tron S version. This triple-motor model will perform the 0-62mph dash in 4.5 seconds and carry on to a maximum speed of 130mph. Spend much time at top speed, however, and your predicted range on a full charge will drop like a stone.

Handling

The e-tron Sportback feels much the same as the standard e-tron from behind the wheel. That’s to say it’s comfortable and quiet – and not just because it’s an electric car; there’s very little in the way of road noise and the optional digital door mirrors means there’s next to no wind noise from around the A-pillars, either.

Audi has done everything possible to disguise the Sportback's hefty weight, but there’s no avoiding the fact that this is a 2.5-tonne car. It rides wonderfully, but you’d be hard pressed to call it fun to drive. Grip from the quattro system is excellent, but there’s not much feel through the steering and body control could be better.

Whether the coupe shape really makes a difference to the way this car handles is hard to call without trying the two back-to-back. But regardless, this is a very relaxing car to drive. At least until you consider quite how big it is; the e-tron feels cumbersome on anything other than a wide three-lane motorway, and things really aren’t helped by those mirrors. Yes, the OLED screens suit the e-tron’s character and give it a high-tech feel, but they require a complete recalibration of your brain. It just feels a bit alien, and a bit disconcerting.

The triple-motor setup in the S makes it quite a different prospect to the dual-motor 55. Acceleration feels even stronger, but it's how the S cleverly distributes the power across its two axles that's most impressive. Most of the time, just the two rear motors are at work, but when you press the accelerator hard, the front comes into play too, giving you maximum shove.

The car can also vary the amount of power being sent to each wheel in order to boost both grip and stability while turning. The end result is an astonishing amount of traction when taking corners at speed, making even the twistiest route a 'point-and-shoot' experience. Extensive suspension improvements and sharper steering compared to the 55 also contribute to the heightened sense of agility you get from the S.

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