Audi debuted its new E-Tron Sportback at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show. The crossover's rearward sloping roofline and more svelte silhouette helped to set it apart from the standard Audi E-Tron and give it a more aggressive look, but with the same 402-horsepower powertrain, the crossover did not have any additional power or performance to go with its sportier appearance.
Those who were holding their breath for a more powerful E-Tron variant can breathe a sigh of relief, however, as the automaker has just pulled the wraps off the new E-Tron Sportback S. With two electric motors on the rear axle and another up front, the E-Tron Sportback S makes 496 hp and up to 720 lb-ft of torque when the gear selector is in the performance-oriented 'S' position. This translates into a 0-96 km/h time of just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h, Audi says.
In regular 'D' mode, the EV produces a more reasonable 429 hp and 596 lb-ft of torque. Audi did not provide specific performance figures for 'D' mode, but it should be plenty fast for most drivers.
Energy is stored in an 86 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which provides a maximum range of 365 km. The crossover can charge at a rate of up to 150 kWh when connected to a DC fast-charging station, which will fill the battery from zero per cent capacity to 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes. To help save energy, only the two rear motors will provide drive power in most cases, with the front motor only coming on when the driver requests more power or if slippery road conditions are detected.
The E-Tron S Sportback also features a standard sport-tuned adaptive air suspension, progressive steering, six-piston front brakes and 20-inch wheels with a wide 285-mm cross-section. Making way for the extra chunky rubber are wider front and rear fenders, which stick out an extra 0.9 inches over the standard E-Tron Sportback's. Larger 21-inch or 22-inch wheels are also available for customers who want an even more aggressive exterior appearance.
Speaking of appearances, the E-Tron Sportback S gets a model-specific front fascia, along with an abundance of exterior 'S' badges. Audi says it can also "paint attachments like the front lip, wheel arches and sill trims in a contrasting colour upon request," for customers who may want to personalize the vehicle a bit more. The interior remains mostly the same, though occupants will notice an abundance of Audi 'S' logos and branding. Sport contoured 'S' seats are also on offer.
It's not clear when we can expect the Audi E-Tron Sportback S to go on sale in Canada. The crossover will arrive alongside the standard E-Tron S in Germany later this year, however, where it will start at 96,050 euros. The non-Sportback E-Tron S is slightly less at 93,800 euros.