After a two-year wait, Audi has finally lifted the covers to reveal the production version of its all-electric e-tron GT, and while it may share the same underpinnings as the Porsche Taycan, it’s clearly no clone.
Set to make its debut as a 2022 model, Audi is billing the sleek battery-electric vehicle as a true 4-seater gran turismo, rather than a sports car. That said, what it claims to be the “most powerful Audi ever,” at least in street legal form, promises to offer truly exhilarating performance, the top-line RS version able to launch from 0 to 62 in 3.3 seconds, officials said during an hour-long web event.
Perhaps no product Audi has brought to market in years better fits the brand’s motto, “Vorsprung durch Technik,” or “progress through technology,” Audi’s global sales and marketing chief Hildegard Wortmann declaring that “It’s the mindset of the people at Audi (that) the future is something we have to create.”
From concept to reality
The Audi e-tron GT made its original debut in concept form at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, actor Robert Downey Jr. providing some appropriate, Tinseltown glitter to the event. For the production model, the COVID pandemic made things a little more challenging though Audi was able to line up a cadre of celebrities to celebrate things, including pop star Janelle Monáe, fashion designer Stella McCartney and Formula One champion Nico Rosberg.
But they could just have easily put the new car on an empty stage and let it fend for itself. If anything, the 27 months since the L.A. concept reveal have allowed the Audi development team to further enhance the car’s styling – with global design director Marc Lichte declaring it “the most attractive car I have ever drawn.”
A preliminary look will reveal the basic proportions shared with the Porsche Taycan, but that is nothing Audi needs to apologize for. One critical advantage is that the e-tron GT is based on a new architecture that goes well beyond what the current e-tron SUV is capable of. It features the brand’s first completely flat load floor, Lichte noted, even though the engineering team has managed to find space for a battery pack capable of storing as much as 85 kilowatt-hours of energy. (The actual pack is 93.4 kWh.)
That, the automaker claims, will yield as much as 488 kilometers, or 298 miles, range using the European WLTP driving cycle. (With the U.S. EPA test typically bringing that down by at least 10 to 20%.) The battery, incidentally, uses the same 800-volt electrical system as the Taycan, something that would allow an 80% battery top off in as little as 23 minutes using the latest-generation public quick-chargers.
The flat load floor offers other practical benefits, starting with interior space for four adult passengers and, even though the roof’s peak is two inches lower than that of an Audi A7, Lichte, who stands well over six feet, claims there is plenty of headroom in the back row.
The e-tron GT picks up on classic Audi design cues, starting with the familiar singleframe grille – here completely flattened, however, to enhance aerodynamics. At an overall drag coefficient of 2.0, the GT lays claim to be one of the most windswept vehicles on the road, something that enhances both range, according to Lichte, as well as performance.
The sweptback headlights use a Matrix laser technology that markedly enhances nighttime visibility – though it is unclear whether those will pass federal muster when the car is brought to the U.S. market where lighting standards are well behind Europe’s. The taillights pick up the distinctive banding layout of the forward lamps.
And, should anyone question whether an EV can develop real muscle, the design team gave the electric GT the biggest rear haunches of any Audi out there.
Inside, the GT picks up on the futuristic design language Lichte and team have used on other recent models, opting for a minimum of knobs and other controls, but plenty of digital display technology a 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit and 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Sustainability comes in a variety of ways, Audi officials stressed during the Tuesday presentation. That includes a focus on recyclability, Audi claiming it is working with suppliers to ensure the battery pack will eventually be reused or recycled. The plant assembling the GT in Neckarsulm, Germany is already “carbon neutral,” relying on alternative energy. And Audi has opted for materials that minimize their carbon footprint, including the distinctively styled, 20-inch “low carbon aluminum” wheels.
While traditional leather will be available, Audi turned to fashionista McCartney to talk about the interior fabrics many buyers likely will opt for – made of recycled materials that the designer has been using in some of her own clothing lines.
A focus on performance
Of course, what many potential e-tron GT buyers will be focused on is performance. And Audi – like Porsche – is taking advantage of the massive levels of instant-on power electric motors can deliver.
While other variants likely will follow – as we’ve seen with the Porsche Taycan – there initially will be two powertrain packages for the 2022 Audi e-tron GT, a base system rated at 469 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque, and the RS, at 589 hp and 612 lb-ft. Both have Overboost functions that, for 2.5 seconds, bump power up to 523 and 637 hp, respectively. The base model can hit 100 kmh , or 62 mph, in 4.1 seconds, the RS in 3.3.
Twin electric motors drive the individual axles. As with the Taycan, the Audi model takes the unusual step of using a 2-speed transmission on the rear axle.
The 2022 Audi e-tron GT won’t match the range of the current Tesla line-up, which can reach as much as 400 miles. And it won’t match the power of the Taycan which punches out as much as 750 hp with the S model. But the combination of striking good looks and features, and still-sold performance numbers, should find a niche in a market that appears ready to begin taking battery-electric vehicles seriously.
Look for the first of the GTs to start reaching showrooms in the U.S. over the summer. The base model will come in at $99,900, while the upgraded Prestige edition will start at $107,100. The RS, meanwhile, will go for $139,900.