It's been over forty years since Audi redefined performance driving with its quattro all wheel drive system. With this e-tron S model, you could argue that the brand has redefined it once again - for a very different era, this being the world's first electric vehicle to use three drive motors. The larger electric motor that on a conventional e-tron Sportback sits at the rear has here been moved to the front, freeing up space for twin smaller motors to sit on the back axle, allowing torque vectoring and fully variable torque distribution between the rear wheels for what should be considerably enhanced cornering agility.
The difference here is that you get real confidence through tighter, twistier turns, thanks to the electronic torque vectoring system's ability to individually control the amount of drive fed to each individual rear wheel with pinpoint accuracy, based on the grip and load active on either side of the car as you drive through each corner.
It's sort of like a mechanical limited slip differential, except that here, there's nothing but software linking the two rear motors - and they respond up to 25% quicker. While all this is going on, wheel selective torque control on the front axle uses the discs and pads to gently brake the inside front wheel as you turn, further helping to rotate the car into the turn as the rear tyres edge towards their limit. The only disappointment, as with the more ordinary e-tron Sportback models, lies with the relative lack of steering feel, a familiar Audi issue, though the variable-ratio 'Progressive' rack is certainly accurate. If only though, it gave you the same confidence as the drive system, what a car this would be.
Extra motive power in this S model means a higher output of course - up to 435PS with 808Nm of torque; or, with the 'S' mode engaged for overtaking, 503PS, with a thumping 973Nm of torque. Enough to simply hurl this Audi at the horizon; 62mph from rest is recorded at 4.5s, but it feels quicker than that because the pulling power is so instant, tailing off only as you edge close to the 130mph maximum.