New Audi e-tron GT 2021 review
The flagship all-electric Audi e-tron GT has arrived in the UK
The Audi e-tron GT is another worthy entry in the luxury electric car market. It’s just the right mix of the new and the familiar, and it has a fair degree of separation from the Taycan because it’s a more comfortable electric grand tourer. It’s fabulous to drive, with strong fundamentals like 270kW charging, although for the ultimate seal of approval, we need to try the £79k car on its mechanical adaptive dampers.
Would you have the new Audi e-tron GT or a Porsche Taycan? It’s the burning question in the premium electric car market, and that’s before you even bring the Tesla Model S into the equation. Our first encounter with Audi’s new electric model, a dead ringer for the stunning 2018 concept car, tells us it’s going to be a close fight.
The e-tron GT is now on sale in Britain, and most buyers will plump for the entry-level GT quattro version. However, there’s little ‘entry-level’ about it, with a four-wheel-drive, all-electric drivetrain developing up to 523bhp on overboost (469bhp otherwise) and 800V technology enabling 270kW recharging.
Prices start from £79,900, and Audi thinks that this will be the best seller, although here we’re driving the £106,000 GT quattro Vorsprung edition. Pay the premium and you get 18-way adjustable vented and massage seats, matrix LED headlights with Audi’s laser light technology, adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving tech and a head-up display. But most of the extra cash goes towards adaptive air suspension and a four-wheel steering system.
Regardless, every version of the e-tron GT uses the same battery. Sized at 93.4kWh (85kWh of which is usable) Audi claims a range of up to 298 miles on a full charge, or 283 miles for the e-tron GT RS, thanks to its more powerful 637bhp electric motor.
While it can’t match the 412 miles claimed by the Tesla Model S, strong recharging technology (at the right terminal a 5-80 per cent charge takes just 23 minutes), means that the e-tron GT is an electric car that can live up to its grand tourer naming. There’s loads of space up front, a decent amount for rear passengers too, and it’s an EV you can do distance in, provided the weather isn’t too chilly. On a cold morning, our car read out 230 miles on a nearly full battery.
It’s also a car that lives up to its GT billing the moment you silently roll away in one of four selectable drive modes. Comfort is the default setting, and it’s probably where the e-tron GT quattro shows its strongest hand, especially with air suspension. There’s still a firmness about the car that you’d come to expect of any Audi, but it’s certainly a softer car than the Taycan.
That’s not to say that the e-tron GT doesn’t have a sportier side – far from it. Even in the default drive mode, there’s no body roll. A precision and feel about the light steering makes it incredibly easy to position the car on faster roads, and the 2.2-tonne weight only makes its presence known over bumps, rather than hard cornering. The four-wheel steering probably helps out here, and gives this five-metre-long Audi a turning circle more suited to a family hatch. Switching to Dynamic mode doesn’t introduce a wholesale change to the experience, though, with the air suspension and steering only becoming fractionally firmer.
The level of performance, provided you have enough charge, is as strong as the numbers suggest. We know how startlingly fast electric cars can be off the line, and the e-tron GT is no different; 0-62mph takes as little as 4.1 seconds with launch control.
However, it’s the consistency of its performance that impresses the most, in part aided by a two-speed transmission. A smaller gear deals with initial acceleration, but a longer ratio kicks in at speed. Even with that longer gear engaged, the acceleration doesn’t seem to fall off a cliff with instantaneous torque delivery from standstill. In fact, it behaves almost like an internal combustion vehicle, but with its own synthesised soundtrack.
Not everything about the e-tron GT is positive. The braking recuperation could be much stronger, and in such an expensive car it feels like a basic system, operated by wheel paddles and with only two weak regeneration levels. If you want one-pedal driving, the e-tron GT doesn’t offer it.
|Model:||Audi e-tron GT quattro Vorsprung|
|Battery/motor:||93.4kWh (gross) battery, dual electric motors|
|Transmission||Two-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive|
|Range:||298 miles (WLTP)|
|Charging:||270kW (5-80% 23 min)|