2022 Audi E-Tron S review: Australian launch

  • Doors and Seats


    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine


    Perm Magnet, LI

  • Engine Power


    320kW, 808Nm

  • Fuel


    9h 15m chg, 418km range

  • Manufacturer



  • Transmission


    1 Spd Red’n Gear

  • Warranty


    5 Yr, Unltd KMs

  • Ancap Safety




We drive Audi’s first-ever electric performance SUV up the Snowy Mountains. What’s it like?

  • Fast and capable, like a performance car should be
  • Spacious in every regard
  • Technology highlights, like those digital matrix headlights

  • No hiding the weight, no matter the smarts
  • Don’t take the 380kW/973Nm figure literally
  • You’ll need a three-phase 11kW home charger at least, if not ideally the 22kW one

Electric cars are finally beginning to arrive into Australia in meaningful numbers.

In particular it’s one conglomerate – the Volkswagen Audi Group – that’s ramping up an electron-filled onslaught into Australia. Most notably the group is focussing on the high-end and performance electric car market with Audi, though it has also leapt to a flying start with the Porsche Taycan.

Introducing the 2022 Audi E-Tron S. Broadly speaking, not only is it one of Australia’s few, true performance electric cars alongside the Porsche Taycan, BMW iX xDrive50 Sport, and the Tesla Model 3 Performance, but it’s also one of few cars in the world to use three stand-alone motors.

Sounds like a riot. We’ve spent a heap of time in the regular 2022 Audi E-Tron SUV, so if this high-performance version isn’t for you, make sure you check out that review.

However, let’s quickly go through Audi’s fully electric SUV range to get the lay of the land. The 2022 Audi E-Tron is offered in two body types across all model grades.

The Audi E-Tron SUV is, well, an SUV, and the Audi E-Tron Sportback is a swoopy-roofed alternative that takes inspiration from the world of sports cars and coupes. The price gap between a regular Audi E-Tron SUV to a Sportback varies depending on the version you buy.

Audi currently offers three different trim levels in Australia: Audi E-Tron 50, Audi E-Tron 55, and the newest member of the range, the Audi E-Tron S – like our test car.

At the entry-level, an Audi E-Tron 50 fully electric SUV is $139,900 or $150,900 in Sportback guise. It has a 230kW/540Nm electric driveline with a 71kWh (gross) capacity battery that enables an official range of 349km.

The more powerful Audi E-Tron 55 not only adds more powerful motors and a bigger battery, but also goes the furthest out of the three versions on offer. Aside from travelling 450km on a single charge, it also packs a 95kWh (gross) capacity battery and 300kW/664Nm electric driveline – when in ‘boost mode’.

Then, we have the latest, greatest, most expensive, and fastest of them all. The 2022 Audi E-Tron S is the brand’s first ‘S’ electric car, and one that’s expected to set the standard for mid-tier and fully electric performance Audis in Australia.

It’s priced from $168,400 before on-roads as an SUV and $175,400 as a Sportback. That means the gap to the sloped-roof version closes as you spend more money. Consider it an incentive.

The Audi E-Tron S’s power figures are quite dizzying: 370kW/973Nm peak ‘boost’ figures, 0–100km/h in 4.5 seconds, the same 95kWh (gross) capacity battery as the mid-tier E-Tron 55 model, and a tare weight anywhere from 2655kg to 2830kg depending on who you ask (I think the latter).

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Let’s discover what the S performance badge brings to Audi’s electric vehicle range.

Key details 2022 Audi E-Tron S Sportback
Price (MSRP) SUV from $168,400 plus on-road costs

Sportback from $175,400 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Daytona Grey
Options Sensory Package – $9600

22-inch wheels – $1600

Carbon interior inlays – $1850

Virtual exterior mirrors – $3500

without Audi phone box light -$481

without electric steering column adjustment -$650

without tyre pressure monitoring system -$494
Price as tested $190,325 plus on-road costs
Rivals BMW iX | Mercedes-Benz EQC | Porsche Taycan

As you’d expect inside a high-end and European luxury electric car, the cabin is a technological marvel.

There’s not one or two, but rather five screens vying for your attention inside. If you want a count – in the case of our specific test car – you’ll find a 12.3-inch display acting as the gauge cluster, another 10.1-inch one playing infotainment, a third 8.0-inch display managing climate control and other functions, then a pair of OLED 7.0-inch displays in the doors showing you live side-vision from the camera-based side mirror system.

They are a $3500 option, however, so if you go without you’ll only receive three screens and a regular set of glass side mirrors. If you want to know how those fancy and cool Audi virtual mirrors work, operate, and what they’re like to live with, make sure you check out our dedicated video on the technology.

However, I’d rather save my money or buy something else from the options list. The rest of the cabin is sheer Audi mastery with everything made from high-end materials and then later assembled in a similar fashion.

The dashboard sports a clean and simple horizontal design treatment, with S-specific treats coming as sports seats clad in supple vacona leather with diamond-shaped stitching, a three-spoke S-branded steering wheel, unique software for the instrument cluster, and plenty of S badges and embossing everywhere else.

It feels like a $200,000 car, so don’t worry about feeling short-changed. Those aforementioned performance seats are a real treat, as alongside being heated and with two-position memory, they’re also incredibly adjustable in all the right ways.

One is an aggressive four-way lumbar, the other is via a deeply adjustable seat base. The latter part helps people with taller-than-average legs, and means your underthighs are kept supported during long drives.

Our test route saw us spend well over four hours behind the wheel – with the odd break along the way – yet I never felt physically fatigued or uncomfortable thanks to those said adjustment points.

In the pursuit of a techo-luxury-high-end cabin, however, there are some ergonomic trade-offs. One is a wildly deep and low centre console that houses the cupholders. Their positioning results in you lowering your KeepCup deep into an abyss you can’t see, meaning you almost always take your eyes off the road to use them.

Another is the fact the USB-C ports face directly into the buried cupholder area, so if you prefer the safety and consistency of hard-wiring and charging your phone, you’ll find yourself fighting cables and wires when using the same area.

The second row has no such tribulations and is pretty big in the back for guests. I’m 183cm tall and found no issue sitting behind a same-sized driver, with there being plenty of room left to get comfy. The rear seat itself is well-sculpted and with some contouring to help fight off cramps and aches on longer trips, too, like the front ones, for once.

Also like the screen count, there are not two but instead four air vents in the back, an extra two zones of climate control both with independent fan speeds (quad-zone in total), another two USB-C charging ports, and two more cupholders as well.

Boot space is massive with 660L on offer for the SUV and 615L for the Sportback body type. It’s also a well-proportioned space, with enough width on offer to wedge in a pram with ease or a trio of full-size suitcases.

If you’re the adventurous type who likes mountain biking or snowboarding – or your kids are – you’ll absolutely love the cargo area.

2022 Audi E-Tron S Sportback
Seats Five
Boot volume 660L SUV

615L Sportback
Length 4902mm
Width 1976mm
Height 1629mm SUV

1615mm Sportback
Wheelbase 2928mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Infotainment is handled by a large 10.1-inch high-definition screen loaded with wireless (and wired) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, 3D digital native maps, and connected services.

The latter means the car is always hooked up to the internet with an LTE or 5G connection – pending on your location. Things like pre-conditioning the vehicle while on charge, checking the overall battery capacity, and dialling emergency services in the event of an accident are all capabilities of the system.

Also part of the system is a lower 8.0-inch screen that handles climate controls and other vehicle systems. The screen – like the one above – uses clever acoustic and haptic feedback to make the two-dimensional glass both feel and sound like it’s covered in tactile buttons as you press.

It’s similar technology to what you’ll find on an Apple iPhone. While it’s great to look at and easy to use when sitting still, it’s on the move where this system can become tricky to use. It’s also buried on the lower part of the dashboard, so the lack of buttons and familiarity you’re unable to build also result in you taking your eyes off the road to use the system.

In its defence, the air-con system has an automatic mode, and the voice-control system is also bloody good at adjusting the fan speed for you (even with an Aussie accent), so it depends on how you like to interact with your vehicle.

Another point worth discussing is the standard-fit 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system, which is absolutely fantastic.

Usually reserved as an option overseas, the top-tier audio rendered the saxophone licks from BadBadNotGood’s Confessions like they were happening live in the car, and the brutal drum and cymbal riffs from Northlane’s Discoveries with clarity and punch. Top marks, then.

As expected, the 2022 Audi E-Tron range is covered by a five-star safety rating having been assessed by Australian crash-test authority ANCAP back in 2019.

While the car scored well with internal occupant protection (91 per cent), it falls down slightly in terms of vulnerable road user protection (71 per cent), which is a score based on the outcome of the vehicle striking a pedestrian – just as important as saving the lives of people inside.

Assisting the five-star result are plenty of advanced driving assist systems, like standard-fit adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic avoidance, automatic braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, and plenty more.

Nearly every advanced driver assist system offered globally comes as standard in Australia, which is great to see. One that doesn’t come as standard – and understandably so – are those fantastic digital matrix LED headlights.

They form part of the $9600 Sensory Package and are well worth considering. Sounding like something out of Star Trek, these optional headlights feature 1,300,000 adjustable micro mirrors inside that can adapt an LED headlight beam in ways never seen before.

The headlights have enough projection resolution to draw pictures, faces, letters, and even draw arrows on the road in front of you to ensure you’re sticking to the straight and narrow.

Aside from its safety benefits like illuminating corners via GPS data before you get there, the welcome lighting is equally as cool, as the headlights will draw dynamic patterns and pictures on the surrounding floors and walls when you unlock the car, almost like it’s a fancy stage show.

2022 Audi E-Tron S Sportback
ANCAP rating Five stars (tested 2019)
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

Electric car availability is ramping up in Australia, but interestingly there aren’t many dedicated performance EVs on the market currently, let alone a performance electric SUV.

As a recap, our test cars varied from $168,400 to $175,400 in base configuration with no options and before on-roads. The most obvious other in the room is the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 Sport that costs $169,000 before on-roads and options. It uses a 385kW/765Nm electric driveline, so it can definitely tango with the Audi.

A 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQC400 Sport for $141,300 before on-roads could be another, but it’s not a performance SUV – rather one that does luxury well instead.

If performance is a must, however, and you don’t mind a body type change, the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo wagon could be for you. It’s slower, has less power, but remains spacious enough for a family and has plenty of badge cred. An entry-level 2022 Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo 4 costs $176,000 before on-roads and options.

At a glance 2022 Audi E-Tron S Sportback
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 30,000km or 24 months
Servicing costs Complimentary six years
Energy cons. (claimed) 26.0kWh/100km
Energy cons. (on test) 28.5kWh/100km
Battery size (gross/net) 95kWh/86.5kWh

If you’re worried about this performance electric vehicle lacking soul, emotion and tactility, don’t.

As I like to profess like a broken record, Audi is the master of calibration efforts. The brand’s vehicles – whether they be entry-level hatchbacks or high-end supercars – always feel taut, confidence-inspiring and engaging to drive.

Things like Quattro all-wheel drive further underpin my own theory, too, as its surety is something Audi has hung its hat on now for close to half a century.

A big reason why the 2022 Audi E-Tron S feels rather different to the non-performance version is because it’s fundamentally different underneath.

Whereas the regular Audi E-Tron uses a sole electric motor at each axle, feeding a single-speed transmission and differential, the E-Tron S performance version uses three electric motors – with one at each rear wheel – to feed power into a planetary gear set and straight to the wheels.

As a side note, the two motors on the back axle send 132kW independently to each wheel, or 264kW in total. How it manifests on the road is quite incredible, and ironically somewhat like a 1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R as the E-Tron S is a rear-wheel-drive car with on-demand four-wheel drive.

That front 150kW electric motor only warms up when things get spicy, such as on the launch drive’s tour of the Snowy Mountains.

The brand told us at the launch that it sees its mechanical-based Quattro lineage translating into an ‘e-Quattro’ electric platform-based advantage – with the twin-motor, planetary gear axle found exclusively in Audi E-Tron S models – as reasons to believe.

With fast and flowing roads at our fingertips, the Audi E-Tron S danced through the chicanes, switchbacks and off-camber undulations like it weighed less. There’s no hiding the near on 2800kg mass – as the tyres will struggle with the huge levels of inertia and torque output – but it does feel relatively nimble.

It’s what that newfangled S-specific rear axle helps enable, which is a new ability to vector torque left to right independently or front to rear faster and more accurately than ever before. The car can simply actuate power to get itself out of sticky scenarios, and some that would’ve maybe seen it understeer into the ditch or just give up supplying power altogether without the tech.

Sometimes with highly complex and hugely electronically aided traction systems, a car can feel vague, disconnected or possibly uncomfortable. However, the Audi’s powertrain is intuitive and already starts to apply power to the right wheel before you’ve even figured it out yourself.

If you trust it and lean in, it rewards you back. The factory-fitted air suspension is brilliant, too, and the brand has form with its Audi SQ5 and SQ7 models that use the same system.

It has a wide breadth of ability, but is unable to shake off some jittering over bad roads with the optional 22-inch wheels. If you really, really care about ride comfort, try to avoid the big and shiny wheels.

On-roll performance from the triple electric motor set-up is good, too, as the figures suggest. In the regular drive mode you have 320kW/808Nm at your disposal, which is plenty for day-to-day activities. Overtakes and lane merges are no dramas at all.

However, if you want to scare your mates with some violent take-offs and on-roll stints, think again. I get a sense the car knows you’re fooling around by stamping the throttle at 80km/h, as the ramp-up in performance isn’t as gnarly as you’d first expect.

Even in S mode – where you have 380kW/973Nm to play with – it can feel like the car holds things back in order to preserve battery life. At the end of the day, trying to push 2.8 tonnes from 80km/h against the wind and up a hill – repeatedly – will literally sap the life from the battery, so the car tries to stop that happening.

In other words, don’t compare these electron-fuelled kilowatts and newton metres to those made with dinosaur juice and turbochargers. Still, a quick launch to 100km/h saw a sub-five-second time on the first go (Audi claims 5.1sec), so make sure you’re freaking your friends out from a standing start first.

Given the electric car upsides of home charging, lower running costs, and the fact it doesn’t burn fuel, the downsides of its performance not feeling literally translated from internal combustion cars simply means it’s just different and not any worse.

What’s more exciting than outright performance is how it puts it down, however, and we’re looking forward to getting a 2022 Audi E-Tron S into the Drive garage soon for some more thorough testing.

I reckon there’s a slice of driver’s car here, and potentially best felt on a damp, fun, and maybe slippery surface. In terms of energy usage, we saw the figure settle around 28.5kWh after going up and down the mountain, with the on-board brake energy recuperation system strong enough to pull down usage from 37kWh after cresting the top.

That means our theoretical range would’ve been 330km on that particular trip, but bear in mind we were driving hard, and up a mountain.

Key details 2022 Audi E-Tron S Sportback
Engine 2x 130kW rear, 1x 150kW front electric motors
Power 320kW (370kW boost mode)
Torque 808Nm (973Nm boost mode)
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Single-speed automatic
Power to weight ratio 113.1kW/t (130.7kW/t boost mode)
Weight (tare) 2830kg
Tow rating 1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 12.2m

Electric vehicles aren’t cheap, but for those who can indulge, the 2022 Audi E-Tron S really is the proverbial Swiss Army knife. It does luxury really well, fast really well, and looks really good too.

I believe there’s a genuine driver’s car buried underneath, too, and one potentially best felt on a damp, fun, and maybe slippery surface. Overall, if you’re shopping for a near on $200,000 family car, you’d be mad not to start here.

For now, the electric performance SUV market doesn’t offer a wide range of choices, though that’s sure to change. Similar vehicles boast big outputs, but Audi’s take on handling as a key tenet gives it a head start over similar high-powered EVs.

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Audi e-tron S Sportback

8.7/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

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