Audi e-tron 55 Sportback S

Quattro Electrified

Audi just launched six different e-tron models in South Africa. Dieter Losskarn took one of them on a 1500 km road trip into the Karoo. An electrifying adventure for a confessed petrolhead.

When last time did you do something for the first time? Well, I just took a pre-launch brand-new Audi e-tron 55 Sportback S on a road trip along the West Coast and into the Karoo. That’s how the very first motorists must have felt, among all those horse-drawn carriages, when they took their loud and smoking machines on a trip. I remember the story of Bertha Benz, who took her husband Carl’s invention on the very first motorized road trip in history with her two sons. Searching and finally buying flammable liquids at a pharmacy for the internal combustion engine.

The first motorists were sticking out, attracting attention. Like me now in this Catalunya red electric SUV. But contrary to Bertha’s, my ride is silent. And as soon as I stop in front of one of those rare charging stations, grab the python thick loading cable and put it in the DC port on the right hand side of the Audi, people are in awe.

Owning and driving an electric car is a statement and it makes you an exotic. My initial petrolhead reluctance to this new kind of propulsion was blown away by the performance of those technological masterpieces. And Audi will launch six different e-tron models in the first quarter of 2022.

ENGINE

3 electric motors, one at the front axle, two in the rear, resulting in Quattro

POWER

370kW & 973Nm (with boost) m

TOP SPEED

210km/h

The SUV I am currently (excuse the pun) cruising through the Karoo, is the 370kW Sportback S with one big electric motor (124kW, boost 150kW) in front and two smaller ones in the rear (196kW, boost 264kW). The boost is available for eight seconds. Because of those two electric motors on the rear axle the torque vectoring works very well, as the onboard computer selects the wheel power accordingly.

The rear agility makes this electrified SUV easy to drift, but it feels like you shouldn’t be irresponsible in a car like this. Drifting quietly feels wrong somehow. The same applies for driving on a dusty dirt road. You see the mighty dust cloud in your rear view mirrors, but the only sound you hear are tyres crunching on gravel. It feels more like gliding than driving. The adaptive air suspension in off road mode irons out all the bumps and crevices.

On windy roads the weight of 2650 kg pushes you a bit out of those corners, but you get used to it. The road holding is perfect. It’s a Quattro after all. And what about the looks? Inside and out it’s clearly and instantly recognizable as an Audi, but with distinct e-tron design features. The typical EV face consists of the closed grille in front, with optional blacked out rings, looking great together with the bright Catalunya red. Then you’ve got the e-tron badging and the two charging ports in the front, on each side, DC on the right, AC on the left. The sexier looking Sportback S has wider wheel arches filled with 20inch wheels, and about 2cm less headroom in the rear and 45 litres less boot space. But you get so much sexy back.

Another great feature are the new digital matrix headlights, which are not only doing all kinds of exciting light shows when locking and unlocking the car, but are also projecting lines onto a dark road for guidance.

Now I can’t wait until next year to experience Audi’s most powerful car, the top-of-the-range EV e-tron GT RS.


Tech Specs

Audi e-tron 55 Sportback S

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

3 electric motors, one at the front axle, two in the rear, resulting in Quattro

Power

370kW & 973Nm (with boost)

Top Speed

210km/h

0-100km/h

in 4.4 seconds

Price

R2 425 000

Watch our Audi E-tron

Sportback S video here:

Driven by Dieter Losskarn

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