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THE ICE KILLER FROM INGOLSTADT

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The Audi e-tron GT quattro, along with the Audi RS e-tron GT, aspires to reinterpret the traditional idea of the gran turismo as an electric grand tourer. Blending dynamic design and state-of-the-art technology – from the battery pack, electric motors and connectivity, to its sporty sound – the Audi e-tron GT demonstrates accumulated technical expertise that has become an Audi trademark. 

Spearheaded by the all-electric Audi e-tron SUV and the e-tron Sportback SUV coupé, the two pioneer models in Audi’s journey towards the future of electric mobility, the new e-tron GT coupé revives the gran turismo concept with an Audi unlike anything we have seen before. The e-tron GT is a powerful, sporty, confident, and dynamic car with excellent everyday usability and relatively long-distance capabilities. As such, the Audi e-tron GT is targeted, in particular, towards sophisticated, performance-oriented car enthusiasts who attach great value to sustainability, design, and high-tech gadgetry.

Spoiler alert: Although this is not the “Tesla Killer” Audi has been hinting about for years, it promises to be an internal combustion engine (ICE) car killer, taking aim at an entire host of petrol and diesel luxury performance sedans and coupés, including Audi’s impressive lineup of A4, A6 and A8 luxury performance models. Competing in the ICE luxury performance car sector, the Audi e-tron GT shows all the promise of a lethal ICE killer. 

Rebirth of the Gran Turismo

The smooth yet aggressive exterior styling of the Audi e-tron GT is a dynamic work of art. Its aesthetics have arisen from efficiency and active aerodynamics with switchable air inlets for brakes and radiators, a rear spoiler that extends in multiple stages, and a closed underbody culminating in a wide diffuser. Arguably the most compelling Audi design ever, each surface and line flow in harmony, from the headlights, with optional Audi laser light, to the large diffuser at the rear. As if shaped by the wind, the body line is exceptionally aerodynamic, with an impressive drag coefficient of 0.24 to aid efficiency and range.  

The comfortable-looking interior follows the Audi design language of the last decade, now sans leather, with numerous switches, buttons and dials from the analogue age. The gran turismo style finds expression in the front seats with their low, sporty positioning separated by a wide centre console that flows into driver-oriented displays. These include Audi virtual cockpit plus (12.3”) and MMI touch display (10.1”) as standard, including natural voice control with an online connection and an optional head-up display.

More Than Enough is Nearly Enough

The electric all-wheel drivetrain features two permanently excited synchronous electric motors, front and back, and a two-speed transmission, similar to that in the Porsche Taycan on the rear axle.  

The Audi e-tron GT quattro offers a total output of 350 kW and 630 Nm of torque, while the RS e-tron GT provides 440 kW and a massive 830 Nm of torque. Launch control provides a 2.5-second boost output of 40 kW of extra power for the standard model and 35 kW for the RS model, enabling impressive acceleration for both. The RS dispenses with the obligatory 0–100 km/h dash in 3.3 seconds and the standard model in 4.1 seconds. While the Audi e-tron GT’s acceleration is on par with the more affordable Tesla Model 3, it is not as quick as the Tesla Model S or the Porsche Taycan. Still, any 0–100 km/h sprint in less than four seconds is considered supercar territory, and as such, the Audi e-tron GT is a serious challenger for most ICE luxury performance cars in the same price bracket. Top speed is 245 km/h for the e-tron GT quattro and 250 km/h for the RS model. 

As with all-electric cars, the Audi e-tron GT uses intelligent control to recuperate energy when coasting, and up to 265 kW of power when braking.

It’s All About the Battery

The 93 kWh battery of the Audi e-tron GT is located between the axles. This provides a low centre of gravity and an ideal 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles. The battery system contributes significantly to the rigidity and crash safety of the body. Audi limits the usable energy of the battery to 85 kWh, enabling a range of up to 487 km for the e-tron GT quatro, and 472 km for the RS e-tron GT, using the WLTP measuring protocol commonly used in Europe. In the United States, using the more realistic EPA protocol, the estimated range is listed as 383 km for the e-tron GT quatro, and 375 km for the RS model.

The system voltage of 800 volts, similar to that of the Porsche Taycan, enables a high continuous output and shortens the charging duration while also reducing the weight and space required for wiring.

The e-tron GT can gain a full charge from the 11 kW AC charger in about 12 hours, and when charging at a 350 kW rapid charger, provided you can find one, it will enable you to recharge enough for up to 100 km in just over five minutes. Five to 80 percent state of charge from a 350 kW rapid charger will take 22.5 minutes under ideal conditions.

Smooth is Fast

The suspension is highlighted as one of the elements that play a crucial role in shaping the harmonious overall character of the Audi e-tron. Expressing the gran turismo philosophy, it is an agreeable partner to the dynamic drive while always remaining confident and relaxed no matter how much strain it is placed under. A three-chamber adaptive air suspension comes standard in the RS model and is available as an optional extra in the Audi e-tron GT quattro. 

Audi’s five-mode drive select dynamic handling system, standard on both models, allows the driver to choose specific settings for the air suspension, dampers, electric motors, two-speed transmission, and controlled rear-axle differential lock (standard only with the RS model).

Audi pre-sense safety systems come standard on both models, while other active safety systems are available as options, including “Tour,” “City,” and “Park” packages; adaptive cruise assist, and (remote) park assist plus. Audi also offers all-wheel steering as an option on both models.

Sight & Sound

Like all Audi models, the e-tron GT is extensively connected. The infotainment, online services from Audi connect, and the assistance systems are state-of-the-art. And since the dynamic work of art must also sound good, Audi has composed a unique sound for the e-tron GT, engineered to be powerful, progressive and automatically adjusted, depending on the Audi drive select setting. The e-tron sport sound is available as an option for the e-tron GT quatro, but it comes standard in the RS model.

Cost-a-Plenty

Presales of two versions of the fully electric gran turismo started in Europe in February of 2021.  The base price for the Audi e-tron GT quattro is EUR 99,800 and EUR 138,200 for the Audi RS e-tron GT.

Last Word

Audi outdid themselves with the Audi e-tron GT’s exterior design, delivering what is arguably the most compelling design for a luxury performance car, not just in the EV sector but across all sectors.

Much like the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron GT’s sticker price is considerably higher compared to the Tesla Model S Plaid, but more in line with the Lucid Air. The only way to make sense of the price is to assume that Audi has to protect sales of its ICE models, thereby managing the Osborne Effect. And since the Audi e-tron GT will remain volume constrained for the foreseeable future, it makes sense for Audi to pitch the e-tron GT at a premium price. The tragedy is that not many people will experience this exceptional car with its next-generation propulsion system.

We doff our collective cap to Audi for its quicker than expected adoption of electric propulsion, and especially for producing a highly desirable electric car that exploits all the advantages of this new technology.

Report by Wilhelm Loots | Images © Audi

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