This article was first published at MotoringNZ.com.
Having SUVs lead the charge into an electric future is an international Audi strategy working well in this market, and that’s a trend Audi New Zealand expects to leverage all the more with the roll-out of a hotted-up triple-motor S Sportback.
Power from this variant is rated at 369kW and a whopping 978Nm of torque – quite a difference over the highest-powered non-S variant, the 55 quattro. The 95kWh battery (in which Audi says 86kWh of it is usable to the driver) allows up to 363 kilometers of range.
Audi New Zealand has added the more powerful S variant to its e-tron all-electric SUV range.
With the e-Tron S one motor drives the front axle and two drive each rear wheel individually. In normal driving situations, only the rear motors are active, with the front stepping in when grip is lost. There is a sport setting for the ESC and, when coupled with dynamic mode on the drive select, Audi says this EV can drift.
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Elsewhere, the adaptive air suspension has been lowered and tweaked for the S model, while wheel arch inserts make the S models 23mm wider than a standard e-Tron.
The e-tron S will only be available in New Zealand in Sportback form, although that could change if demand for the wagon-bodied variant it there.
At $189,900 the derivative becomes the most expensive e-tron SUV here, with a $19,500 premium over the 55 S-Line that has previously topped that line, but still sits below the e-tron GT, which costs between $194,500 as a GT and $274,000 in its ultimate RS form, before options are considered. The coupes are quicker to 100kmh but within e-tron SUV ranks, the S is now the king, with a time of 4.5 seconds.
Whether the e-tron S will compete with the GT remains to be seen; Audi New Zealand general manager Dean Sheed believes the model is more likely to be considered by customers who until now have been achieving performance kicks from buying big-engined petrol models, including those from the highly-specialist RS sub-cluster, though he imagines some current e-tron owners might also decide they’ll like that car with more oomph.
“Current internal combustion engined performance SUV’s are a significant portion of our current business – that’s RSQ3 to RSQ8.
See how the Audi e-tron S uses its three electric motors for some serious torque vectoring during cornering.
“The e-tron S is the first battery electric to allow us to offer consumers an electric alternative to the ICE performance SUV – and of course (it also appeals to) current e-tron customers wanting more performance.”
Audi internationally has expressed thought that e-tron S might also stand excellent potential to conquest; in particular winning attention from the Tesla Model S/X sector.
Asked if he had any thoughts about that or if this has already been his experience with other e-tron products, Sheed said: “Actually the current e-tron SUV/Sportback and now the GT has that ability … and naturally the e-tron S will continue to offer an alternative.”
The e-tron S Sportback is the first triple motor EV to arrive on New Zealand shores.
The e-tron S is available overseas in the wagon shape as well, but that model was determined to be unnecessary here. However, Sheed has indicated he is prepared to bring in the other model if demand suggests it is needed.
“With an eye on range complexity we believe the Sportback is the right ‘sporty’ bodystyle for the S car, (but) give me six months of customer feedback and I will tell you if I am right!”
The next step of Audi NZ’s e-tron strategy will be introduction of Q4 e-tron, he confirmed. That car is built upon the MEB platform that will spawn a range of compact SUVs throughout the VW Group family.
The S gets 21-inch alloy wheels as standard, with 22s available as an option.
However availability of any MEB platform cars here has proven challenging, in part due to markets in Europe have been given priority, with countries in which a timeline for the end of fossil-fuelled vehicle sales has been set being top of that list.
Said Sheed: “Yes, the Q4 e-tron family should be the next to launch … (but) we are waiting for global release outside Europe. We should know more in early 2022 about a local release date.”
Read the full article on www.motoringnz.com.
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