Audi’s E-tron lineup is about to get hotter thanks to three electric motors

Audi is looking to further refine and boost the powertrain found inside the e-tron, so it’s working hard on the so-called e-tron S, which gets a three-motor setup and better dynamics.

The German carmaker is hard at work developing the bumped-up powertrain that will underpin the incoming e-tron S models (regular and Sportback) and we’ve got to hold our hands up and admit they do look very good as far as performance is concerned.

The e-tron S is Pretty much about all-around performance

Audi's New E-Tron S Can Drift, But What's the Point? Drivetrain
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In boost mode, the e-tron S develops 370 kW and 973 Newton-meters of twist; the equivalent of 717.6 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to zap from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds up to a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). Outside of boost mode, the new e-tron S can still churn out 320 kW and 808 Newton-meters (596 pound-feet), which is still more than the highest-spec e-tron can deliver under boost.

Audi e-tron S Boost Mode
Power 370 kW
Torque 717 LB-FT
0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 4.5 seconds
Top Speed 210 km/h (130 mph)

The current e-tron lineup is derived into two guises: 55 quattro and 50 quattro. The former makes do with 300 kW and 664 Newton-meters (490 pound-feet) in boost mode and can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds. Compared to what the e-tron S can pull off, it looks like the third motor does just enough to spice up the e-tron’s performance credentials.

Different Motor Positioning

Audi's New E-Tron S Can Drift, But What's the Point? Exterior
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In the Audi e-tron 55 quattro, the larger electric motor powers the rear axle. In the e-tron S, Audi repositioned it on the front axle, where it produces 124 kW (150 kW in boost mode). On the rear axle, there are now two smaller e-motors (identical in size and design), producing 196 kW (264 kW in boost mode) between them.

During normal, daily use, the e-tron S is motivated by the rear electric motors alone.

When there’s a need for more power (i.e. the driver wants to overtake, for example) the front e-motor kicks in, but it’s also activated by a detected loss in grip, so the car quickly compensates to avoid skidding. This can happen when driving on slippery surfaces or during high-speed cornering.

Audi's New E-Tron S Can Drift, But What's the Point? Drivetrain
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Essentially, the tri-motor setup also works as a finely-tuned AWD setup, but without a mechanical differential, as torque vectoring sends power from each rear e-motor straight to its corresponding wheel directly via a transmission setup.

And yes, the e-tron S can drift, but we don’t really see the point of this in an SUV, other than helping Audi send its marketing gimmicks across to the public to boost the e-tron’s coolness factor. We can guarantee that nobody will drift their e-tron, let alone take it to the track where’s it’s actually safe to perform such shenanigans. As we said, a pointless feature.

On a more practical note, the e-tron S can be charged from a 150-kW DC power source, so it’s able to replenish its battery pack from 5% to 80% in just half and hour. There’s no word of a change in battery size and capacity, which means the e-tron S will feature the same 95-kWh Li-ion pack that’s good for a max range of about 436 kilometers (271 miles).

Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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