Thrust vectoring, Audi EV style

The Audi e-tron, and the model name is lower case, represents the marque’s expanding footprint in the growing universe of performance EVs, the model offered in S and S Sportback versions. There’s eye-opening output here, with the e-tron S and S Sportback capable of up to 496 horsepower through a trio of electric motors fed by lithium-ion batteries. Why three motors? Because two of them are used to power the rear wheels, which brings us to the point of all this. If you’re conversant about military aviation, you likely know that modern designs for air superiority fighter jets often include movable nozzles on the fuselage that can direct the engine’s exhaust according to pilot commands, allowing the airplane to change directions more suddenly in combat situations. That’s why fighter pilots have to wear inflatable trousers that can be blown up instantly, using bleed air, to keep them from blacking out in high-g evolutions.

In aviation, that practice is known as thrust vectoring. The same principle works at Audi by allowing the dual electric motors at the e-tron S’s rear to function independently of one another. In normal driving, the front motor remains off until it’s needed, while both rear motors can instantly generate full power for a burst of up to eight seconds, the power directed to the wheel most in need of grip as determined by the electric version of the quatrro, also lower-case, all-wheel-drive system that Audi has enhanced for EV applications. So theoretically – no, make that actually – you can boot one of the e-tron S models into a power-on drift, just like Tom Kristensen pulled off regularly in an Audi R18 e-tron on the way to winning Le Mans, again and again. Good driving is where you find it, and the entry point for finding one of these from Audi is $84,800.

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