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First Drive: Audi E-Tron GT Shows Audi Has Plenty To Offer Electrification

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 17, 2021

The original Audi e-tron battery electric vehicle has sold well, considering its price. But it is already starting to look a little jaded. Fortunately, Audi has some new electric cars coming out, and top of the heap is the Audi e-tron GT. Recently, I got to drive it at the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) test event. It is quite an accomplishment, but it’s still a premium vehicle for early adopters.

The first thing you should know, if you think the e-tron GT looks a bit like a Porsche Taycan, is that it is based on the same platform, called J1. Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group so has at least four electric platform to choose from. The original e-tron SUV uses the MLB evo, then there is J1 for high-performance cars like the GT, the mainstream MEB, and a premium platform called PPE, which hasn’t entered the market yet.

The Audi e-tron GT doesn’t just look a bit like the Porsche Taycan, it is very similar on lots of levels. Both companies have tried to make their vehicles sports cars, but in reality they are both luxury four-door sedans. Apart from being very low-slung, the e-tron GT and Taycan have a surprising amount of room for the two rear passengers. Unlike a 2+2 Porsche 911 where the rear seats are just for toddlers or the two-seat Audi R8, the e-tron GT is a proper four-seater like a Porsche Panamera.

That’s not to say that the Audi e-tron GT drives like a big sedan. The e-tron GT quattro has 469hp with the ability to boost this to 523hp. This allows it to reach 62mph in just 4.1 seconds. The more expensive RS e-tron GT raises this to 590hp with a boost of 637hp, which allows it to sprint to 62mph in 3.1 seconds. In other words, both versions are properly quick, albeit not in the same league as the Tesla Model S Plaid.

The car I drove was just the e-tron GT quattro, rather than the quicker RS, but this is still very much a driver’s car. The grip is amazing, considering that this vehicle weighs 2.4 tons. I was testing the GT on the hill track at Millbrook Proving Ground, which is an extremely undulating, curvy road with many challenging sharp corners, very steep sections, and few straights where you can really let a fast car rip. The GT navigated this track with considerable aplomb, inspiring confidence to tackle corners at speed.

However, having taken the Porsche Taycan 4S for a spin a week earlier, I was able to compare the two. The difference is subtle, but the Porsche just feels that little bit tighter and flatter as you go into a bend. Admittedly, I drove the Porsche on public roads so couldn’t push it to the edge in the same way as the Audi. But the overall sense was that little bit sportier with the Porsche than the Audi. This is a very fair comparison, too, as the starting price of both cars is very similar, and the Taycan 4S has the same 523hp maximum power, although Porsche claims 4 seconds to hit 62mph.

You would notice barely any difference in a drag race, with both cars having a launch mode to deliver the most acceleration from a standstill. But the Audi has slightly more sense of being an incredibly fast, engaging grand tourer than the Porsche, instead of a sportscar you can seat four people inside. With a 298-mile range and charging up to 270kW, if you can find a fast enough DC supply, you can put 80% capacity back into the Audi in just 23 minutes – barely enough for a toilet break. So it really can deliver on the promise of long journeys.

The e-tron GT is a capable car with a typically great Audi interior, and some even think it looks nicer than the Porsche Taycan on the outside. However, in the UK prices start at £79,900 and in the US $99,900, so this is no EV for the masses. Luckily, Audi also has another new BEV arriving called the Q4 e-tron, which uses the MEB platform employed by the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 as well as the Skoda Enyaq iV. But, being an Audi, the Q4 e-tron slots in above the other two Volkswagen Group SUVs in terms of price and interior quality. There will be more to come, too, possibly next year. The Volkswagen group PPE platform will be used by the forthcoming Q5 e-tron (and the electric version of the Porsche Macan), as well as the A6 e-tron.

In other words, while the Audi e-tron GT is a halo car that signals the company as a true EV contender, there will be a full range of options available in just a few years. It is another sign that Volkswagen Group now has a very solid strategy for playing a huge role in the emerging electric revolution.


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