When it comes to post-Dieselgate German cars, it’s easy to complain that everyone’s making electric crossovers and letting sub-million-dollar battery-powered performance cars fall by the wayside. For instance, Audi made its Tesla-rivalling E-Tron Quattro a fun but ultimately sedate beast designed to get a reliable, production EV off the line that felt like an Audi in as short a time as possible. Now, however, the brand is expanding with the E-Tron GT sedan and its wickedly quick RS variant.
The E-Tron GT isn’t an SUV or a crossover; it’s designed specifically as a grand tourer. Although its name is confusingly similar to the aforementioned family hauler, it’s a completely different car. It’s low and long—lower, in fact, and wider than the A7, aiding the argument that it’s a proper electric sports car, set to put a question mark on whether you really want a Model S. The base GT model delivers up to 390 kilowatts (523 brake horsepower) and the RS E-Tron GT distributes up to 475 kW (637 bhp) so it’s dealing with proper power, as well as looking the part.
Audi RS E-Tron GT
While the base E-Tron GT, which comes in standard and Prestige trim, is decidedly more docile than the RS, they all share the same performance-enhancing feature in the form of permanently excited magnets in the front and rear axles. Audi makes the slightly odd pitch that these are shared tech with “the world’s most thrilling roller coasters” rather than the previous E-Tron models but the GT’s are unquestionably beefier than what’s gone before. The standard Audi E-Tron Quattro crossover goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds; the base E-Tron GT does that in 3.9 seconds and the RS edition in 3.1, on par with the V10 R8.
As with the previous E-Trons, the GT has both front and rear motors, with the rear giving the majority of power and the front fine control. The standard GT has 235 bhp to the front, 429 bhp to the rear that balance to a combined maximum of 470 bhp, which can be boosted for a few seconds to 530 bhp using the launch control. The RS takes that further, with the same front axle motor and a chunkier rear one, up to 449 bhp but with them able to deliver a combined 590 bhp, or 637 bhp with overboost.
Audi E-Tron GT
The GT was designed with the track in mind; the concept even made its debut at the 24 Hours of Spa last year. In turn, it’s got all the steering and balance features you’d expect for that. All-wheel steering can be added to the GT and comes as standard with the RS, moving 2.8 degrees in the rear for opposite-direction control in low speed corners and same-direction alignment at high speeds.
Weirdly for an electric car, the E-Tron GT has a clutch, though it’s for the rear-axle differential, which can be actuated variably. Audi says it gives a full locking range from zero to 100 percent for ultimate balance of the car, including individual wheel braking control. Audi Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, a man that’s fairly hard to please, said the braking felt “strong and highly controllable,” even to a racing drivers’ standards.
The battery pack is a hefty 93.4-kilowatt-hour unit, which Audi says can charge from five to 80 percent in less than 23 minutes using a 270-kilowatt fast charger. Audi claims an estimated EPA range of 232 miles which isn’t great, though it’s a fair deal better than the Porsche Taycan.
The automaker hasn’t released a figure for how much the pack weighs yet but it’ll be a substantial percentage of the car’s 5,000-plus-pound total, so major steps have been taken to reduce the weight elsewhere. The RS comes with a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic roof to bring down its overall heft and make the car feel more, well, like a GT car than the slightly hearse-like handling of some powerful EVs.
Lucas di Grassi in the E-Tron GT prototype
As for the interior, the car is environmentally-friendly and free of leather, using recycled materials. Although if you really want it, you can ask for leather as an upgrade to go with your delicately-angled infotainment options; there’s a 12.3-inch Audi cockpit screen and a second 10.1-inch MMI touch display, which is pretty restrained by today’s standards and certainly smaller than Tesla’s problematic tablet controls in a Model S.
The E-Tron GT starts at $99,900, with the prestige version priced at $107,100 and the RS at $139,900. Given the RS has zero-to-60 performance equivalent to the V10 R8, that’s pretty cheap—the V10 car only got down to a similar price point as the RS by turning bargain basement and rear-wheel-drive only.
Oh, and it’s not quiet. They’ve developed a special sound for the GT car, blended from 32 instruments for a true track cacophony feel that reflects what the car is actually doing.
Audi says it’ll be available for ordering this summer, with delivery in 2022.
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