Shockingly seductive – Audi e-tron S Sportback review

By definition, seduction is something that attracts or charms, it can be subtle or direct, visually stimulating or quite simply just felt. It’s an art that’s been currently expressed in the shape of the new Audi e-tron S Sportback and Audi New Zealand threw me the keys so I could fall under its spell.

E-tron is the moniker premium car brand Audi has placed on their fully electric offerings and with (up until now) two models in a four variant range (e-tron, e-tron Sportback, GT and RS GT) it’s an area that’s not only ever-increasingly popular but also a strong stake in the ground as to where the brand is headed – luxury and performance vehicles with an environmental conscience.

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

This then brings me back to the all-new e-tron S Sportback. This new model sits perfectly between the large e-tron/Sportback SUV and the high-performance GT/RS. It’s sleek, fast and ultra tempting and proudly sports the Audi S badge, yet also comes with a big dollop of everyday user SUV practicality.

Up front is the e-tron singleframe grille, smoother than that on its fossil-fueled siblings but the Audi family tree is instantly apparent, especially as it comes with the four rings. There are numerous vents and gills to ensure airflow, particularly down the side and when combined with a smooth underbelly, the e-tron S Sportback boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.26cd which is near golf ball territory (0.24).

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

At 4.9m long the new e-tron is no shrinking violet and yet with a height of 1.61m (even when riding on my optioned 22-inch alloys) and that all important sloping ‘sportback’ roofline, its silhouette is very, very easy on the eye. While the rear highlights include a wafer thin spoiler and a full width LED lightbar that looks great at night (although I prefer to be in the driver’s seat so never get to see it).

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

The e-tron S Sportback’s cabin is all Audi and as such includes the scent of fine leather, which adorns all ‘S’ embossed furniture. The fit and finish is way past excellent and the use of brushed aluminium and gloss blacks is spot on. Yes there are some rougher plastics down low but only if you go hunting.

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

The MMI system is of course the latest version and comes with the likes of Google maps for upto the minute traffic, and the sporty SUV has all the driver and safety features that Audi can offer (all bar the mirror cams – but I assume these can be added). Plus it also has a fair share of EV jiggery-pokery to keep the geekiest of you happy.

AC and DC

Behind the scenes is a 95kWh battery network that powers three electric motors. Together they produce (under boost) 370kW and 973Nm which means that this 2.6-tonne luxury SUV will get you from zero to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds – eat your heart out hot hatches. It can be AC charged at 11kW and DC charged upto 150kW so it sure doesn’t take long to get your EV tank filled to its 378km range.

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

Admittedly I only had the e-tron for four days but I did take it on every trip (whether necessary or unnecessary) and if I’m honest, made the Sportback confirm it’s S credentials at virtually every opportunity. First and foremost, it’s quick, surprisingly so and it really doesn’t take much to get into licence losing territory so I urge you to beware. And while on the subject of beware, it blasts away at the lights so for all you boy racers out there, check to see what you’re siding up next to if you don’t want to be left red faced. 

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

Audi has set the drivetrain up for more of a playful rear power bias which feels more natural when pushing up in revs and they have also provided worry-free cornering as the quattro system comes with ‘wheel selective’ torque so virtually all power can be express delivered to any one wheel and any time when required – it’s a big confidence builder.

Audi e-tron S Sportback review NZ

On the flip side, my ‘plasma blue’ review model attracted a lot of gazes on the street and was easy to spot in the Mall car park, what’s more, although 45L down in luggage space over the regular e-tron, 615L is plenty of space for all manner of shopping.

Audi e-tron S Sportback NZ

Overall, the Audi e-tron S Sportback makes you feel special. It’s comfortable to drive around the town with lots of room for 4-5 people which is what you’d expect in an SUV of this size and calibre. But when it’s just you and the road ahead, this sporty SUV is an agile drive that seriously brings out the devil inside you – and all without a hint of CO2! Now that’s what I call seduction.

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