Electric cars may have come on quite a lot since you last looked. Two electric motors are now de rigeur on larger luxury models like this one and, uniquely, faster versions of this Audi can now even offer three. We'll get to that, after we've briefed you on the core offering here for the twin-motor 'e-tron Sportback 50' and 'e-tron Sportback 55' models most customers for this model line will be looking at. Both share pretty much exactly the same engineering as the existing, boxier e-tron SUV we first tried back in 2019. Which means that, as with that body shape, there are two battery options, the base '50' variant using a 71kWh powerpack and the more popular '55' derivative that, like all other e-tron Sportbacks, features the bigger 95kWh battery we've got here.
Either way, with these two models, your battery of choice powers two electronically linked asynchronous motors, one on each axle. This in turn creates an electrified interpretation of Audi's quattro all drive system, though in low demand situations the car will be rear-driven thanks to a decoupling system that disconnects the front drive motor when it isn't needed. As you might expect, the electric motor output you get depends on the variant you choose. The entry-level '50 quattro' model offers 313PS and has a best possible 215 mile rated range; the '55 quattro' variant has 360PS (or up to 408PS if you select an 'S' overboost mode) and its bigger battery improves the range figure to a (still rather modest) best possible figure of 281 miles.
The other variant available in the range is the top e-tron S Sportback performance version, 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 considerably enhanced - and really rather astonishing - levels of cornering agility. 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: driving more sedately, the S variant's WLTP-rated driving range figure is 236 miles.
Unlike its rivals from Jaguar and Mercedes, Audi fits air suspension as standard to all e-tron Sportbacks and it imperiously deals with speed humps and potholes, plus it can lower itself to give the car greater stability at speed.