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Audi e-tron S Sportback Singapore Review - Quattro 95kWh (A)

The Audi e-tron S Sportback is the latest fully electric SUV from Audi and is a sportier, high performance version of the earlier release e-tron Sportback. It features quattro all wheel drive, with a triple motor setup with two rear motors and one front motor. Both front and rear axles are fitted with adjustable air suspension for superlative ride comfort. With the release of the e-tron S Sportback, it becomes the most powerful Audi electric SUV to date, and possibly the best looking one as well.

Design & Appeal

I love big and muscular cars. Unfortunately, big and muscular cars are often brutish at the expense of beauty. It is therefore refreshing that the S Sportback has somehow managed to create this imposing looking 2.6 tonne beast, without having to compromise one bit on its design. The car is undeniably beautiful, and has all the right curves in all the right places, with the S-Line bodykit doing an exceptional job at ensuring the car still looks like it could outrun most vehicles in its class. In fact, the wheels look like propellors that came straight off an Avengers airplane.

Unlike other automakers who appear to go out of their way to make their EVs look electric, Audi seems to have taken more traditional steps in designing their cars - and I think its great that their EVs don't obviously look like electric cars. It is only upon closer inspection of the e-tron side emblems above the left and right charging ports that things become abundantly clear. In the S Sportback especially, this more conventional car design that still permits some texturing on the grille as opposed than a blanked off one, which really does help to visually solidify the car's capabilities as a high performance SUV. All in all, the S Sportback's design is a big win for us, and the car looks as stunning as it looks imposing.

Interior & Practicality

One of the most striking elements of the S Sportback are its textured Valcona Leather S-Line seats, which are not only wonderful to look, but are also very comfortable to sit in. Im not a fan of Alcantara Leather, because it grips my clothing too much for my liking, so I found it really nice that Audi didn't go down that route with the S Sportback.

Around the cabin, I would say that the gear selector on Audi's EVs are a pretty eye catching element of the car, as many people think that its some sort of thrust lever at first glance. To be honest, I haven't quite made up my mind about it - It looks pretty cool, especially with the S-Line logo embossed into it, but at the same time, it does all feel a little bit excessive, considering the actual moving elements of the selector only take up about 10% of that contraption's frame. Still, the selector isn't unpleasant to use in any way, and is actually situated at a location where it is quite natural for the driver to rest their left hand on the selector.

Technology wise, two touchscreen displays dominate the centre console with one controlling your infotainment unit, while the other controls your air conditioning. I won't deep dive into the pros and cons of having so many touchscreen units. On one hand, they do attract a lot of fingerprints. On the other hand, they are just so cool and add this futuristic sheen to the cabin. Within the infotainment unit, you'll find plenty of customisation options for the car, including two tone ambient lighting, as well as other more driver focussed functions like drive mode customisation, as well as the controls to bring your suspension setup higher or lower. Apple Carplay and Android Auto do work wirelessly with the car, which is good, considering that not all luxury vehicles have wireless phone connectivity yet.

In the rear, you've got legroom that probably slots in between a Q5 and a Q7, which is a comfortable amount for most Asian sized adults, as well as children. A family car isn't defined by its horsepower or toque figures, but rather with little pieces of attention, such as the B-pillar air conditioning vents, as well as the built in rear sunshade (which is a very Audi feature that I really love). As a family man myself, rear sunshades are such an important element so that my kid who is asleep in the back doesn't get sun in her eyes and ends up waking up crying. Tri-zone climate control means that rear passengers can also choose their own temperature settings. The 615L boot in the rear will swallow up most things you can throw at it, and rounds of the practical aspects of the car.

Drive & Comfort

The inclusion of air suspension on the S Sportback means that despite those massive wheels with low profile tyres, the car rides beautifully and will beat any impurities on the road surface into submission. The end result is superlative ride quality that both you and your passengers will no doubt enjoy. In fact, I think the S Sportback is more comfortable than both the e-tron GT and e-tron GT RS around town conditions. As with most Audi cars, insulation is top notch, and very little road noise gets into the cabin. That said, wind roar from the side view mirrors are still present up at highway speeds, but we won't be too hard on this - because most other competitors aren't doing any better. Interestingly, if Audi eventually decides to fit its virtual mirrors onto its future SUVs as standard, that would definitely go a long way in improving the driving experience. It seems then, that Audi already has the technology, and would be in pole position to solve this minor and trivial issue - yet is one that affects the overall sense of refinement.

Although the S Sportback features a triple motor setup, the objective of the setup feels like its geared more towards generating enough torque to overcome the heavy frame of the car as opposed to just going really fast - like in an RS e-tron GT. What we discovered was that the 380km stated range of the S Sportback was more sensitive to driving styles than Audi's GT models, and under more spirited driving conditions, consumed a noticeably larger amount of power than the GT models. However, I think the balance that Audi has struck between range, performance, and the size / weight of the vehicle is reasonable for current EV standards.

When we aren't worrying about the boring and nerdy aspects of EVs however, we get to enjoy the full brilliance of Audi's electric drivetrains, which are one of the most organic feeling, and therefore best feeling in the market. In a weird way, despite being electric powered, the S Sportback does still feel familiar in a way that it sort of retains the driving dynamics and DNA of a petrol powered Audi, which I quite like. Under heavy acceleration, the S Sportback feels quicker than its stated 0-100km/h timing of 5.1 seconds, and as you watch yourself zip past the nearest car, its hard to fathom how something this large and heavy can be so fleet-footed.

Although capable of handling much higher speeds, the S Sportback is still a family friendly SUV at the end of the day, and that means that it isn't a match made in heaven with copious amounts of speed. There is a sweet spot with each car, where the cruising speed is fast enough to be enjoyable for all the passengers. In the case of the S Sportback, I would say that the ideal sustained cruising speed would be 140km/h as you do start to feel the inertia of the car moving higher up off the ground as you go faster, which can be tricky for those who aren't accustomed to the speed.

Who Should Buy This Car?

It goes without saying that you need to be pretty well-heeled in order to purchase the S Sportback, but its also important to note that you do get a lot of car with the S Sportback, on top of the fact that you'd be buying a vehicle sitting at the forefront of electric mobility. I actually have a deeper appreciation for the S Sportback than the RS e-tron GT for the simple reason that the car offers me more performance than I will ever need, while still being a supremely functional and practical family car. For example, the S Sportback comes with built in rear window shades, as well as additional air conditioning vents on the B-pillar - Small things with a huge impact as it gives you the impression that Audi has given some thought to it. If you love the design of the Sportback, but have no real need for that additional power, the regular e-tron Sportback actually provides extremely good value, considering it sits in the same price bracket as an RS3. For the S Sportback, I see it as a great alternative to people considering a Porsche Cayenne or a Lamborghini Urus, and are keen to experience the brutality of torque generated by the electric motors.


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