With its launch date approaching fast, Audi has begun lifting the kimono to give us a peak at the all-electric e-tron GT – and more powerful RS e-tron GT – undergoing testing.
Sharing the same underlying platform as the Porsche Taycan, Audi first revealed a concept version of the battery sports car during the November 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The automaker now suggests it will be “the strongest car Audi has ever built.”
In a series of news releases, Audi backed that up with hard numbers suggesting that the more powerful version of the e-tron GT will turn out about 598 horsepower using the SAE test process (684 hp using German numbers). That’s right in line with what the automaker promised two years ago when it said the sports car would come in around 600 hp, launch from 0 to 60 in around 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.
That said, Audi now says that the GT will feature an Overboost mode capable of bumping output up to 637 hp using the SAE calculation. Torque, meanwhile, is expected to come in at 612 pound-feet.
By comparison, the most basic Porsche Taycan 4S punches out 429 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque, a figure that jumps to 482 hp and 479 lb-ft if the car is equipped with the optional Performance+ battery. The top-end Taycan Turbo S, meanwhile, makes 616 hp and 774 lb-ft, the pony count climbing to 750 with launch control engaged.
With twin motors, one on each axle, it is no surprise that Audi’s new sports car won’t quite match up against the Taycan. But it’s also expected to be a fair bit less expensive than Porsche’s offerings, the base 4S starting at $103,800, while the Turbo S will set a buyer back $185,000 – before adding in the ubiquitous options.
Audi is parsing out details gingerly. For one thing, it only confirmed that you’ll be able to order a version of the e-tron GT with the same basic battery pack as the most powerful version of the Taycan, about 93.4 kilowatt-hours. If the Porsche is any indication, usable power wll be about 10% less. Automakers typically don’t use the full “state-of-charge” of their packs in order to maximize battery life. It is all but certain that Audi will also offer one or more optional packs, perhaps the 79.2 kWh one currently available to Taycan buyers.
Meanwhile, it retains an 800-volt electrical architecture which offers several benefits – most notably, faster charging speeds, though at a higher cost.
Porsche has taken hits for the relatively modest range of the Taycan – much as Audi has for its original EV, the e-tron SUV. The Taycan manages between 192 and 203 miles, depending upon the version. That’s about half what the longest-range version of the Tesla Model S can manage in its longest-range configuration. Audi has indicated the RS model will deliver up to 249 miles per charge. But that’s using the liberal European test cycle and would likely be as much as 20% lower when tested by the U.S. EPA.
Both vehicles rely on a skateboard-style architecture, dubbed J1 Performance, one of several all-electric platforms being developed for the various Volkswagen Group brands. But Audi and Porsche are working up another architecture that will be used for future models. Improved range and performance are key targets.
We’ll have to wait to see if the e-tron GT mirrors the aggressive tuning of the Taycan, though one would certainly expect the RS version to come close. The Audis will share Porsche’s adaptive air suspension system which not only will mean varying damper stiffness but also the ability to adjust ride height. Rear-wheel steering also will be shared between the two brands.
The biggest differentiator for the e-tron GT? Exterior and interior styling, as the images here demonstate. The cabin will pick up the latest-generation styling we’ve begun seeing from Audi design chief Marc Lichte, as he previewed with the e-tron Sportback Concept revealed last November at the LA Auto Show.