New Audi E-tron GT flagship EV guns for Tesla’s Model S

11 February 2021 - autocar

New Audi E-tron GT flagship EV guns for Tesla’s Model S

Low-slung, high-tech Porsche Taycan sibling here in spring, including 590bhp RS

Audi’s long-awaited riposte to the Tesla Model S, the E-tron GT, has been launched and the first examples are due to arrive in showrooms in the spring.

Described by Audi as “the gran turismo of the future”, offering an “emotional and fascinating” take on electrification, the E-tron GT has been revealed and will go on sale from day one in both ‘standard’ and hot RS forms. The launch variants will start from €99,800 (£88,110) in Germany, although UK pricing has yet to be confirmed.

Exterior design and dimensions

Audi has attempted to retain as much as possible from the first E-tron GT concept of 2018. To that end, the four-door electric flagship has a nearly identical stance and proportions, with a heavily sloping roofline, wide track, broad shoulder line and low bonnet.

At 4.99m long, 1.96m wide and only 1.41m tall, the E-tron GT is just under 3cm longer and taller than the Porsche Taycan, with which it shares its architecture, and virtually identical in width. The roof is 17mm lower than that of an A7 Sportback – a key target for designers to ensure a more athletic look. Despite the presence of a large underfloor battery, rear passengers are said to have “generous head room” thanks to a recess in the battery pack that allows them to slide their feet low into what’s dubbed a “foot garage”.

A new interpretation of Audi’s single-frame grille makes its debut on the E-tron GT. A honeycomb-pattern grille is painted in the body colour – an Audi first – with a black ‘mask’ surround, although it can also be specified in grey or black with matching side trims and rear diffuser, depending on colour choice. Rather than cooling, the grille’s main purpose is to hide a number of sensors used by the car’s assist systems.

Great focus has also been put on the aerodynamics of the E-tron GT, which has a claimed 0.24Cd. Active aerodynamic elements include controllable cooling inlets in the grille and a rear spoiler that extends to one of two positions, depending on the driving scenario.

Further details include LED headlights in three guises: standard with dynamic indicators; matrix LED headlights; and matrix LEDs in combination with the Audi Laser Lights system. All lights offer front and rear LED animations for the ‘coming and leaving home’ function. Wheel sizes range from 19in to 21in.

Chassis, drivetrain and performance

The standard E-tron GT quattro features a 235bhp electric motor powering the front axle and a 429bhp motor at the rear axle. With both motors retaining reserves “for extreme driving situations”, the total system output is 469bhp and 465lb ft. However, a boost mode takes peak power to 523bhp for 2.5sec when using launch control. The top speed is 152mph, with 0-62mph achievable in 4.1sec.

As with the Taycan, the E-tron GT uses a two-speed transmission for the rear motor, with a short-ratio first gear for “stunning acceleration” and a long-ratio second gear for greater efficiency and high-speed performance. If launch control is not used, the E-tron GT starts off in the second gear.

The battery, mounted low in the car and allowing a weight distribution “very close” to 50:50, provides 85kWh (93kWh total) of usable energy. It’s an 800V power system, enabling faster charging and reducing wiring complexity. The battery’s inner structure and frame are made of aluminium and contribute “significantly to the rigidity and crash safety of the body”, Audi claims.

Standard AC charging is 11kW, enough for a full charge “overnight”. A 22kW charger will be offered later in the year. DC charging allows for a peak rate of 270kW – sufficient for 62 miles of range to be added in just over five minutes. The official WLTP range has yet to be set, but Audi’s predicted figure is 303 miles for the base GT. Customers can use 200,000 public charge points in 26 countries via Audi’s E-tron Charging Service, using Ionity chargers.

The suspension, with double wishbones and made almost entirely from aluminium, can be specified optionally with an adaptive three-chamber air spring system. The drive select functions allow multiple parameters of control and the body can rise or fall by up to 22mm, depending on mode.

The E-tron GT’s dual-motor system enables four-wheel drive but the Efficiency driving mode prioritises drive through the front wheels. Drive can be sent to the rear axle five times faster than with combustion engine quattro drivetrains, Audi claims, and the torque distribution is fully variable.

A fixed rear axle diff lock comes as standard to improve traction and stability, but a fully variable multi-plate diff lock is optional. Four-wheel steering can also be specified.

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