Audi is very, very serious about grand touring. Not only is the concept of long-distance travel in great comfort and at great speed referenced in the name itself (“GT”), the brand’s gone to great lengths to make it a reality. The all-electric 2022 E-Tron GT appears to have the hardware and capability necessary for cross-continental travel.
And it looks the part, too, barely distinguishable from the “concept” car we drove back in 2018. While that was a hand-built fantasy, this is a vehicle that needs to meet customer expectations and deliver polished performance as drivers probe the limits of EV endurance. With the production vehicle’s details revealed, it seems this Audi might have what it takes.
And in two flavors. The base E-Tron GT Quattro is formidable, but it’s the E-Tron GT RS that has our attention with more performance and additional power.
Not Taycan Its Looks for Granted
The E-Tron GT shares its J1 EV platform with the Porsche Taycan, so comparisons between the two are unavoidable. But the E-Tron GT has a very distinct look to go with its palpable emphasis on touring. The Taycan’s lines are smooth and organic, while the E-Tron GT is heavily muscled.
Indeed, Audi’s designers threw the word “muscular” around a lot in presentations and interviews, and there isn’t a better word for the styling theme. The fenders swell, sharply defined creases bulging out of the metal—the E-Tron GT is cut, no doubt about it. It has the sort of swagger that unapologetic GTs in the ’70s, such as the Aston Martin V-8, embodied. Whereas the Taycan looks fast, the E-Tron GT looks fast and brawny. Save the roof that swoops sharply towards the rear deck, the relation between the two isn’t immediately apparent—a credit to Audi’s design team.
The available 20-inch “aero” wheels’ contrasting finishes and blocky elements add to the visual presence—and the effect makes this production E-Tron GT look even more like a concept car you can buy. (All U.S.-bound E-Tron GTs come standard with 20-inch wheels of various designs; 21-inchers are optional.) The GT’s slippery drag coefficient of 0.24 shows that the extra stylistic brawn doesn’t come with an aero penalty—it nips on the heels of the Taycan’s 0.22, both quite low.
“Porsche always does cars like this,” Marc Lichte, design chief at Audi, said. “I never got the chance to do one until now.” Indeed, it looks like Audi’s future rather than merely a derivative of Audi’s present.
A Cockpit for Touring
Audi is proud of the lack of compromises inside, and the E-Tron GT appears to provide both a driver-oriented cockpit and sufficient comfort for other passengers for long-distance cruising. The instruments and main controls wrap slightly around the driver’s seat. It’s a common feature among sports cars, but one that perhaps doesn’t quite rise to the “monoposto” nomenclature Audi appends to it.
The multi-level, multi-texture dash does sweep gracefully around the front occupants, which should give a comforting sense of sitting within—rather than on top of—the car. It also angles away, toward the windshield, giving a sense of more space and also a three-dimensionality that keeps things from seeming too busy. After all, it’s a riot of angles, textures, and screens, so the spatial separation of all these elements provides balance.
Rear comfort is improved by the innovative “foot garage” Audi is so proud of. Rather than the completely flat floor of a “skateboard-style” EV chassis, the battery is “scooped out” in the rear passenger footwells, allowing the two rear occupants to sit lower, underneath that very swoopy roofline, without sacrificing headspace for adults with taller torsos. Simple, effective, and surprisingly elegant—it’s a nice solution.
Given the electric powertrain’s green aspirations, there is a focus on sustainable and non-animal-derived interior materials. Don’t worry; leather is still an option. But the standard seat dressing in the U.S. is a synthetic leather material trimmed with Dinamica (made from recycled polyester fiber) and Alcantara. An intriguing Kaskade material is another seating option that is made of recycled selvages—the edging on woven fabric—that resembles wool.
It’s not just the materials used, either, as Audi says the entire production of the E-Tron GT will be less impactful on the environment. Its production facility, which also makes the R8, burns biogas for heat and electricity, and Audi buys carbon credits to claim a net-zero carbon footprint.
Its Hardware Isn’t Soft
As a pure EV with a sizable battery pack and high-powered electric motors at both axles, the E-Tron GT has the powertrain brawn to match its swole exterior. But it mixes and matches components from the J1 parts bin in a slightly different way than the Taycan, coming up with a combination that suits its long-distance touring mission.
While there is a rear-drive base Taycan, all E-Tron GTs come standard with all-wheel drive. There are two flavors of performance: the E-Tron GT Quattro base model and the upgraded, more powerful E-Tron GT RS.
The base E-Tron GT is most comparable to the Taycan 4S, which comes in two outputs: the base car produces as much as 522 hp with launch control active. Upgrade to the larger 93-kWh battery pack, and total power increases. In the case of the Taycan 4S with the Performance Battery Plus, its output swells to as much as 562 hp—a 40-hp bump.
Like the Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus, the E-Tron GT relies on a 93-kWh battery pack, but unlike that car, it won’t have the up-rated powertrain. Its maximum 522 hp output (in overboost mode) is the same as the base Taycan 4S. The RS model ups the maximum juice to 637 hp using the same 93 kWh battery but swaps out the rear motor for a unit that produces 20 more hp, putting it right in between the Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus and the Taycan Turbo.
Leave launch control off and the base E-Tron GT produces 469 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, and the RS makes 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 0-60-mph time of 3.9 and 3.1 seconds, respectively. The top speed for both is over 150 mph.
Charging speeds can’t be knocked, either. The E-Tron GT adopts an 800-volt charging architecture for ultra-fast charges. Using a 270-kW DC fast-charger, the car can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in a claimed 22 minutes. It’ll also reportedly gain a maximum of 62 miles of range in 5 minutes under optimal conditions. Compare that to the well-known Tesla Supercharger system, especially the “V3” 400-volt units that can achieve 250-kW charge capacity—something we’ve tested for ourselves. We’ll have to do the same once we can get our mitts on an E-Tron GT. If the Audi can drop real-world charging times this far, it’ll make long-range touring much more feasible.
Ride and Handling to Go the Distance
No EV is lightweight (that’s just the nature of battery technology at this point), so to provide adequate range and performance the E-Tron GT is packing a lot of weight: 5,060 pounds for the base car, and 5,239 for the RS. The batteries alone weigh 1,100 pounds. That mass, along with the E-Tron GT’s focus on touring—where comfort and handling are both of the utmost importance—means that nailing the ride tuning is essential. When we drove the concept version, we were told to expect a smoother, quieter ride than the Taycan provides.
That’s why the E-Tron GT—like the Taycan—utilizes standard three-chamber air suspension for U.S. models. The regular E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback don’t get this trick tech, which essentially increases the range of spring rates available. It also provides ride-height variation: up to 0.9 inches down and 0.8 inches up. Paired to active dampers, each air suspension chamber can be activated individually by the chassis computer. They also can be altered by the driver through the various drive modes.
For greater handling and high-speed stability, all-wheel steering is standard on the RS (and optional on non-RS) models. It provides up to 2.8 degrees of angle in the rear, and like most systems, it switches between opposite-direction to same-direction operation above 30 mph, adding stability to higher-speed maneuvers. The rear differential is also a locking unit in all models for additional traction and is of the electronically-controlled multi-plate type.
Price, Price and the Range
Audi pegs the range of U.S. models at 238 miles for the base car, and 232 for the RS, although these are manufacturer estimates and not official EPA numbers—but they do eclipse the Taycan’s various EPA ratings, which hover much closer to 200 miles give or take a few.
The E-Tron GT will start at $99,900 (undercutting the Taycan 4S), and the RS model will start at $139,900 (significantly undercutting the Taycan Turbo)—note neither price includes a destination fee. In very loose terms, it’s more expensive than equivalent Tesla Model S configurations, save the upcoming Plaid+. And there’s no steering yoke in the Audi, as far as we can tell. The 2022 Audi E-Tron GT goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
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