Audi e-tron GT saloon review
"A stunning design and 300-mile range make the Audi e-tron GT a threat to Tesla's EV dominance"
- Stunning design
- Good to drive
- Fast charging
- Tesla Models S has more range
- Conservative interior
The Audi e-tron GT is the German marque's entry into the world of fast, futuristic electric saloons, and its long-awaited answer to the Tesla Model S. An important model then, and one with a design that's likely to influence other models wearing the four-ringed badge for years to come.
As it’s based on the same underpinnings and technology as the Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT is off to a great start. Like the Taycan, its sensational looks are also likely to win as much favour as its eco credentials. All the familiar Audi styling elements are present and correct but the bodywork has been stretched to give the GT a wide and low stance, swollen wheelarches and a coupe-like roofline. It looks fast even parked at a charging station.
Under its taut skin, the regular e-tron GT quattro is fitted with a 93kWh battery, giving a 298-mile range. That's not quite on a par with the Model S but using a rapid-charger, the Audi can be topped back up to 80% in just 30 minutes, making long trips eminently possible. Front and rear electric motors provide four-wheel drive and 469bhp, with 523bhp for brief periods of 'overboost'.
The RS e-tron GT is even faster, with up to 637bhp (590bhp in normal driving). Even in its Dynamic driving mode, the electric Audi is refined and rides well, with surprisingly tactile steering. Acceleration comes in a long surge that's sure to leave many drivers and passengers gasping for breath.
The interior is first-rate Audi fare, even if it can't quite match the drama when you're standing outside the car. It all looks rather conservative inside but with pin-sharp design and plenty of high-tech features. There have also been some changes you can't see, such as recycled plastic floor mats and the option of a fully vegan interior, giving the e-tron GT a more complete approach to sustainability than just zero tailpipe emissions. The car's length means passenger space is adequate for tall adults, and a fairly large boot and frunk even make the Audi rather practical.
Costing more than £80,000, the Audi e-tron GT might represent the future for executive saloons but most of us won't be able to afford one. If Audi can transplant the same style and refinement into a more affordable package, there's reason to get excited, but for now the car will remain something for the majority to marvel at, rather than own.
MPG, running costs & CO2
It goes without saying that the e-tron GT's status as an all-electric car comes with a host of benefits. There's VED (tax) exemption for a start, along with the reduced cost of charging with electricity rather than filling up with petrol. The extra £325 in tax you'd pay for five years on cars costing £40,000 is waived for electric cars too. But perhaps the biggest benefactors will be business drivers, because while a car with the e-tron GT's performance would usually cost a small fortune in monthly Benefit-in-Kind bills, its EV powertrain means it qualifies for the cheapest band.
The Audi has a 93kWh lithium-ion battery, giving it a 298-mile range. This hardware is shared with the Porsche Taycan, where it gives a virtually identical range of up to 301miles, but it's some way off the range of the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus, which can manage up to 405 miles. The ability to travel almost 300 miles on a single charge should be good enough for most drivers and charging speeds are more headline-grabbing. Plug in at a fast enough charging point and the e-tron GT can go from 0-80% in just 30 minutes.
Engines, drive & performance
It might weigh as much as a luxury SUV but the dual motors fitted in the e-tron GT give it 469bhp in normal driving, or 523bhp for 2.5 seconds with 'overboost'. Use launch control and the 0-62mph time is just 4.1 seconds, while top speed is 152mph. Not quite as incredible as the Model S, which manages 0-60mph in 2.3 seconds, but plenty quick enough for most drivers. The RS e-tron GT will get an even more impressive 590bhp (637bhp with overboost), for a 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds.
If the optional sound package is fitted, the e-tron GT even sounds quite exciting. This is thanks to digital 'engine' and 'exhaust' sounds that are not only audible inside the car, but also to anyone admiring the car as it glides past. Along with the feel of the controls, it all helps make the e-tron GT feel like a performance Audi that happens to run on electricity.
The car’s acceleration is addictive, with a sustained surge that will have passengers laughing in disbelief. One surprise is that, while light, the steering is better than that of many other Audis, with genuine feel.
There are Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual driving modes, which have an appreciable effect on the suspension, throttle response and electronics. Comfort mode is good, with a compliant ride even on scarred British roads, while Dynamic makes the car feel sharper but still refined.
Interior & comfort
Some are likely to be disappointed that the GT looks rather like a conventional Audi inside, given its stunning exterior design. However, Audi's interiors are amongst the best in the business, so it's not really a hardship. The car comes fully loaded with tech like a head-up display, 12.3-inch digital cockpit and a B&O sound system, along with the latest driver-assist systems.
The e-tron GT does more to be sustainable than just running on electricity; it also features floor mats made from recycled fishing nets and has a fully vegan interior. This uses synthetic leather that looks and feels convincing, despite its man-made properties.
Two trims are available for the standard GT, with the first getting 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, MMI Navigation plus, sports seats and a panoramic sunroof as standard. The Vorsprung edition gets a different design of 20-inch wheels with black inserts, Matrix LED headlights with laser technology, 'Pro' sports seats and carbon trim inlays.
The RS e-tron GT gets its own roster of kit, with 21-inch wheels across the board and the B&O sound system. The Carbon Black version has black exterior trim - even the Audi rings on the grille - and a striking wheel design. The range-topping RS e-tron GT Carbon Vorsprung adds night vision, a head-up display and remote self-parking.
Practicality & boot space
It might be a low-slung car but the e-tron GT's length, five doors and rear hatchback make it relatively practical. There's decent head and legroom in the front and back, and the panoramic sunroof means the interior doesn’t feel dark or claustrophobic. Audi has even made sure to arrange the batteries in such a way that there's enough space to accommodate the passenger's feet under the front seats. The rear doors make access to the rear very easy, and there are plenty of cupholders and even decent cubbies.
The boot measures a respectable 405 litres, with a further 85 litres available under the bonnet in its 'frunk'. Like the Tesla Model S, the e-tron GT has a boot lid rather than a hatchback, so it's unlikely owners will be able to fit bulky items through the opening.
Reliability & safety
The e-tron GT is part of a growing lineup of electric models for Audi and is based on the same underpinnings as the Porsche Taycan. While it's tricky to gauge reliability, its engineering is impressive, and the e-tron GT is even built on the same production line as the Audi R8 supercar. That means its build quality is likely to be second-to-none. If there are any glitches, there should also be the possibility of fixing them with over-the-air software updates because so many of the car's systems are now electronic.
It's reassuring to know that the Porsche Taycan already scored a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2019 because we see no reason why the Audi wouldn't perform just as well or better. It's certainly fitted with lots of the latest safety equipment but it's also worth noting that some is optional. A Tour Pack adds features like adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition, while a City Assist Pack brings lane change and exit warnings, along with warnings for front and rear traffic that's crossing the car's path.