Audi has begun testing a high-performance version of its E-tron electric SUV at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The four-wheel-drive model, which Ingolstadt experts suggest will be sold in the E-tron and E-tron Sportback coupé body styles from 2020, is designed to provide added performance and dynamic attributes to the range, just as the SQ5 advances the driving prowess of the Q5.
The changes include a lower ride height, probably achieved by adopting modified software for the standard air suspension configuration.
Also evident in the lightly camouflaged prototypes are the new performance-centric wheels and tires that are not currently available on the E-tron. These are designed to reduce tyre height and provide higher levels of grip.
Details regarding the E-Tron S powertrain are kept secret. However, Audi engineering sources admit that they have already tested several designs beyond the standard cars two electric motors. Included is the triple engine design of the original E-tron quattro concept, which was unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
As standard, the E-tron produces a combination of 355 bhp and 415 lb ft of torque or, in Boost mode, for up to eight seconds, 402 bhp and 490 lb ft.
This output could easily be increased by introducing a third electric motor. This movement would also allow Audi to offer high-performance versions of the E-tron with individual drive to each of the rear wheels for better traction and more neutral maneuverability, in combination with torque vectoring for the front wheels.
Audi also aims to significantly reduce the E-trons 0-62 mph time, probably well below the 5.0 second barrier.