The key to achieving optimal efficiency in an electric vehicle takes more than just installing a larger battery pack. Aerodynamics plays an important role when you consider a sleeker body in motion will generate less air resistance, thus lowering fuel consumption while improving stability and comfort for those inside the cabin. As you’re about to see, Audi paid special attention to aero when developing the hot S versions of its E-Tron electric SUVs.
Take for example the wheel arch trims, which are wider on both sides by 23 millimeters (0.9 inches) compared to the standard E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback. These feature vertical cutouts in the corners of the bumper allowing the air to flow through. This feature helps lower the drag coefficient to just 0.28 in the case of the E-Tron S. Its Sportback equivalent is even more aerodynamically efficient, with a Cd of only 0.26 thanks to its swoopy roofline.
How do these side air inlets work? The multiple horizontal bars help channel the airstream to capture the disruptive air swirl within the wheel houses to enable what Audi refers to as a “cleaner airflow” along the sides of the SUV. Even the 20-inch wheels have been designed with aero in mind, much like the pattern and tread on the sidewalls of the tires.
Those swanky side cameras replacing the conventional mirrors also help with reducing aero drag, with Audi saying they contribute to the vehicle’s efficiency just about as much as the ventilated wheel arches. The range is increased by roughly 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) per the WLTP cycle thanks to the virtual exterior mirrors, which come bundled on the inside with OLED displays showing the captured image.
Audi’s aero team also worked on the underfloor paneling by adding spoiler elements to redirect the air around the SUVs. The underfloor is actually enclosed, and so is the battery pack, while the bolting points have indentations shaped like a bowl in the same vein as the dimples you’ll find on a golf ball to improve airflow compared to a completely flat surface.
Also helping maximize aero is the adaptive air suspension that comes as standard on both the E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback. The body is automatically lowered by as much as 26 mm (1 inch) at higher speeds to make the SUVs cut through air in a more efficient way.
At the front, there’s a pair of electrically controlled louvers behind the grille that remain closed between 29.8 mph and 99.4 mph (48 km/h and 160 km/h) so that the air flows above the hood. If more cooling air is required, either for the drive components or the air conditioning, these louvers gradually open up. In case the brakes are under a heavy load, the air inlet begins to redirect air to the front wheel arches through two different channels.
As a reminder, the E-Tron S and E-Tron S Sportback are coming with a tri-motor setup by gaining an extra electric motor at the back. This bumps output to a massive 496 hp (370 kW) and 973 Nm (718 lb-ft) to enable a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in only three and a half seconds, which is mighty impressive considering the electric SUVs are not exactly light.