Hot Audi E-tron ‘S’ to take aim at Tesla Model X

Audi has begun testing a performance version its E-tron electric SUV at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The four-wheel-drive model, which Ingolstadt insiders suggest will be sold in both the regular E-tron and coupé-like E-tron Sportback bodystyles from as early as 2020, has been conceived to provide added performance and dynamic attributes to the range in the same way as the SQ5 advances on the driving prowess of the Q5.

Changes include a lowered ride height, likely achieved through the adoption of altered software for the standard air suspension setup.

Also evident on the lightly camouflaged prototypes are new performance-focused wheels and tyres that aren’t currently available on the E-tron. These are intended to lower the ride height and provide greater levels of grip.

Details relating to the driveline of the fettled E-tron ‘S’ remain under wraps. However, Audi engineering sources admit they’ve already tested various layouts beyond the two electric motors of the standard car. Included is the triple motor layout of the original E-tron quattro concept that was revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show.

In standard guise, the E-tron produces a combined 355bhp and 415lb ft of torque or, in Boost mode for a maximum of eight seconds, 402bhp and 490lb ft.

This output could easily be increased through the introduction of a third electric motor. Such a move would also enable Audi to provide performance versions of the E-tron with individual drive to each of the rear wheels for better traction and more neutral handling qualities in combination with torque vectoring for the front wheels.

Audi is also aiming to significantly reduce the E-tron’s 0-62mph time, likely well below the 5.0sec barrier. 

One thing that’s unlikely to be altered on the E-tron ‘S’, however, is the battery capacity; Audi has already stated that this will remain at 95kWh when it offers further variants of its first dedicated EV.

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