Last year, Audi launched the E-Tron SUV as the first vehicle in its massive EV push that's expected to take place over the next few years. It earned rave reviews (including snagging a spot on our own GP100), and had a notable Super Bowl commercial to its name. But the range — just 204 miles, as per the EPA — and starting price of $74,900 prevented it from challenging Tesla in the way it could have.
Fortunately, Audi just revealed some changes planned for the 2021 model year that could have more EV buyers considering an E-Tron. First off, the SUV is getting significantly cheaper; it will start at $65,900 instead of $74,800. Audi also improved the range by 18 miles — not with a bigger battery, but simply through software improvements. The E-Tron now has a 222-mile EPA rating, and the new E-Tron Sportback will travel 218 miles on a charge.
These upgrades certainly make the E-Tron a more attractive proposition. More affordable crossovers from Ford and Nissan are coming, but if you want to buy a family crossover EV that isn’t a Tesla today, you’re looking at an E-Tron or a Jaguar I-Pace. The E-Tron, which offers more cargo space, is now cheaper. And if you’re looking at Audi SUVs, you can now do some reasonable cross-shopping between the E-Tron and the Audi Q7 and Q8 when it comes to performance, practicality and price.
Maybe you’re looking for a sportier electric vehicle? Well, Audi will have you covered there soon enough. The company just announced that high-performance S models for the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback are also en route. Those models will have a three-motor powertrain that will produce 429 horsepower and 596 lb-ft of torque. An eight-second boost mode will bump the output to 496 hp and 717 lb-ft, and allow the car to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Audi did not specify when the S models would arrive; however, Audi pledged that it would be the first tri-motor system in mass production, which would place it before the tri-motor Tesla Cybertruck, currently due for late 2022.