2021 Audi e-tron GT

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2021 Audi e-tron GT Prototype First Drive

Our First Taste of the Future of German Luxury Sedans

Show-stopping. In this author's opinion, there's no question: Audi's e-tron GT was the star of the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. Not even Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man himself, could distract from Audi's new fully charged GT at its glittering reveal in L.A.

A True Head-Turner

We'll see the e-tron GT sedan reach production late in 2020. Audi design boss Marc Lichte is adamant that it will look little different from the striking concept. Lichte describes it as his career high point so far, mixing familiar elements from the existing Audi range with new signature e-tron styling elements. The inverted single-frame grille is a highlight, housing backlit e-tron lettering that guarantees no one will be left guessing as to the car's means of propulsion.

When it reaches showrooms, the e-tron GT will be Audi's third production battery-electric vehicle. It will join the e-tron SUV, which is already on sale, and a compact e-tron Sportback, which is due mid-2019. The e-tron GT will head that range. Its overt, muscular yet lithe proportions and style are sure to appeal to more than just early EV adopters.

Those looks are stopping traffic today, quite literally, as we take an early drive in Audi's electrified future. L.A. might be used to some unusual sights, but the e-tron GT concept gliding silently through downtown turns plenty of heads. That's something no volume EV has yet to manage — plugging in has just gotten more appealing, visually at least.

A Ride to Remember

The e-tron GT also has an advantage thanks to the vast corporate engineering hotpot that is the Volkswagen Audi Group. Under the Audi exterior, the GT uses the same technology as Porsche's upcoming Taycan. It features a flat-floor architecture, dubbed internally "J1," that's part of the group's Premium Platform Electromobility strategy. That platform houses a 90-kWh battery pack, situated low between the wheels in order to give the GT a center of gravity equivalent to an R8. Having a supercar-low center of gravity should benefit the GT's handling, meaning Audi can market this EV as a desirable, high-performance premium vehicle first, with its environmental credentials playing a supporting role.

That the GT will be part of the Audi Sport GmbH product offensive reinforces this strategy, as does the fact its two electric motors produce a combined output of 434 kW, or 582 horsepower. That's enough power to propel the e-tron GT to 62 mph in around 3.5 seconds and 124 mph in 12 seconds, before reaching its electronically regulated 149 mph maximum. Audi is quick to point out the repeatability of that sparkling performance, too, sneakily highlighting some of its upstart rival's inadequacies in battery cooling.

With electric motors driving both the front and rear axles, the GT is a Quattro by definition. Electronic control of the drivetrain allows the e-tron GT to direct power not just to either axle but to individual wheels for electronic torque vectoring. Add rear-wheel steering and that low center of gravity, and the e-tron GT should deliver agility that belies its substantial dimensions. Downtown L.A. isn't the best place to perform a handling test, but we can confirm that the huge traction and instantaneous, step-off torque make the GT feel very quick.

At city speeds the GT is serene and effortless, gaining pace with the merest brush of the accelerator. Push harder, and there's the faintest hint of electrical sound entering the cabin, but that is certain to be dialed out with the production cars. The steering is light and accurate, though the double-wishbone suspension (especially on this concept car riding on 22-inch wheels) has yet to be properly dialed in. The ride comfort is best described as compromised, though Audi promises us that issue will be sorted for production cars.

A True GT

If the drivetrain represents a brave new world, then the interior remains comfortingly familiar, at least if you're familiar with Audi's latest cabin architecture. There's a Virtual Cockpit display ahead of the driver with a digital representation of conventional instrumentation. It's entirely configurable — able to display everything from navigation to the state of the drivetrain, all easily accessed via the steering wheel-mounted touch controls.

The Virtual Cockpit is complemented by a large touchscreen in the center dashboard, which contains all the connectivity, navigation and entertainment functions. It's also how you'll choose the Drive Select modes, with five configurations that let you favor performance, economy or comfort — or pick your own mix: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual.

We couldn't sample the different drive modes, unfortunately. Our tester was a very early car. We do know that on the production car you will be able to use the steering wheel paddles to set the level of liftoff regeneration to suit the type of driving you're doing. That'll leave the lightweight (and likely optional) carbon-ceramic brakes largely redundant when driving around town while maximizing regeneration for the battery.

The GT's cabin proved light and spacious, with rear seats able to accommodate adults comfortably and the trunk offering enough space to qualify Audi's GT name badge. There are some definite concept-car touches, such as carpets made from recycled fishing nets, that signal Audi's desire to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Whether Audi will be able to haul in enough old nets for production models remains to be seen. Potential owners are more likely to be interested in the charge times than the carpet fibers anyway.

Range Envy

Not everyone was as happy with the e-tron GT as we were: One vocal Tesla driver couldn't resist pulling alongside and rolling down his window to tell us his Tesla is better. It might just be, for now, because it's available. But when Audi starts turning out the GT in volume, the Tesla Model S is going to start looking a bit ordinary. Being first, however disruptive you are, doesn't necessarily mean you'll always be best.

Tesla does have an edge in range, however. Audi says the GT will manage a range of quoted 250 miles when fully charged. That distance likely represents something approaching reality, the Volkswagen Audi Group having learned the hard way that misquoting numbers does no favors for anyone. But while the range is adequate, charging speeds are impressive.

The GT should, with the correct 350-kW rapid chargers, be able to top up to 80 percent capacity, about 200 miles, in 20 minutes. Most will charge at home. And if you fit an 11-kW wireless charging pad at home, the e-tron GT's battery will be able to be topped up overnight without the inconvenience of plugging it in.

The Volkswagen Audi Group has also committed to invest $2 billion in a charging infrastructure via partner Electrify America. It's a thoughtful move, and knowing it'll have access to plenty of charging stations should make not just Audi but VW and Porsche electric products more appealing to consumers.

A 'Clean' Fight?

What is certain is that with traditional manufacturers now ramping up their battery electric offerings, the Silicon Valley upstarts are going to have a fight on their hands. And if the Audi e-tron GT delivers on the potential promised by our brief, though impressive drive around downtown L.A., the fight for clean vehicle sales might just get very dirty indeed.

Stay tuned to Edmunds for more news on the 2021 Audi e-tron GT.

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    2021 Audi e-tron GT Prototype First Drive

    Our First Taste of the Future of German Luxury Sedans

    Kyle Fortune by Kyle Fortune , CorrespondentDecember 16th, 2018

    Show-stopping. In this author's opinion, there's no question: Audi's e-tron GT was the star of the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. Not even Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man himself, could distract from Audi's new fully charged GT at its glittering reveal in L.A.

    A True Head-Turner

    We'll see the e-tron GT sedan reach production late in 2020. Audi design boss Marc Lichte is adamant that it will look little different from the striking concept. Lichte describes it as his career high point so far, mixing familiar elements from the existing Audi range with new signature e-tron styling elements. The inverted single-frame grille is a highlight, housing backlit e-tron lettering that guarantees no one will be left guessing as to the car's means of propulsion.

    When it reaches showrooms, the e-tron GT will be Audi's third production battery-electric vehicle. It will join the e-tron SUV, which is already on sale, and a compact e-tron Sportback, which is due mid-2019. The e-tron GT will head that range. Its overt, muscular yet lithe proportions and style are sure to appeal to more than just early EV adopters.

    Those looks are stopping traffic today, quite literally, as we take an early drive in Audi's electrified future. L.A. might be used to some unusual sights, but the e-tron GT concept gliding silently through downtown turns plenty of heads. That's something no volume EV has yet to manage — plugging in has just gotten more appealing, visually at least.

    A Ride to Remember

    The e-tron GT also has an advantage thanks to the vast corporate engineering hotpot that is the Volkswagen Audi Group. Under the Audi exterior, the GT uses the same technology as Porsche's upcoming Taycan. It features a flat-floor architecture, dubbed internally "J1," that's part of the group's Premium Platform Electromobility strategy. That platform houses a 90-kWh battery pack, situated low between the wheels in order to give the GT a center of gravity equivalent to an R8. Having a supercar-low center of gravity should benefit the GT's handling, meaning Audi can market this EV as a desirable, high-performance premium vehicle first, with its environmental credentials playing a supporting role.

    That the GT will be part of the Audi Sport GmbH product offensive reinforces this strategy, as does the fact its two electric motors produce a combined output of 434 kW, or 582 horsepower. That's enough power to propel the e-tron GT to 62 mph in around 3.5 seconds and 124 mph in 12 seconds, before reaching its electronically regulated 149 mph maximum. Audi is quick to point out the repeatability of that sparkling performance, too, sneakily highlighting some of its upstart rival's inadequacies in battery cooling.

    With electric motors driving both the front and rear axles, the GT is a Quattro by definition. Electronic control of the drivetrain allows the e-tron GT to direct power not just to either axle but to individual wheels for electronic torque vectoring. Add rear-wheel steering and that low center of gravity, and the e-tron GT should deliver agility that belies its substantial dimensions. Downtown L.A. isn't the best place to perform a handling test, but we can confirm that the huge traction and instantaneous, step-off torque make the GT feel very quick.

    At city speeds the GT is serene and effortless, gaining pace with the merest brush of the accelerator. Push harder, and there's the faintest hint of electrical sound entering the cabin, but that is certain to be dialed out with the production cars. The steering is light and accurate, though the double-wishbone suspension (especially on this concept car riding on 22-inch wheels) has yet to be properly dialed in. The ride comfort is best described as compromised, though Audi promises us that issue will be sorted for production cars.

    A True GT

    If the drivetrain represents a brave new world, then the interior remains comfortingly familiar, at least if you're familiar with Audi's latest cabin architecture. There's a Virtual Cockpit display ahead of the driver with a digital representation of conventional instrumentation. It's entirely configurable — able to display everything from navigation to the state of the drivetrain, all easily accessed via the steering wheel-mounted touch controls.

    The Virtual Cockpit is complemented by a large touchscreen in the center dashboard, which contains all the connectivity, navigation and entertainment functions. It's also how you'll choose the Drive Select modes, with five configurations that let you favor performance, economy or comfort — or pick your own mix: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual.

    We couldn't sample the different drive modes, unfortunately. Our tester was a very early car. We do know that on the production car you will be able to use the steering wheel paddles to set the level of liftoff regeneration to suit the type of driving you're doing. That'll leave the lightweight (and likely optional) carbon-ceramic brakes largely redundant when driving around town while maximizing regeneration for the battery.

    The GT's cabin proved light and spacious, with rear seats able to accommodate adults comfortably and the trunk offering enough space to qualify Audi's GT name badge. There are some definite concept-car touches, such as carpets made from recycled fishing nets, that signal Audi's desire to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Whether Audi will be able to haul in enough old nets for production models remains to be seen. Potential owners are more likely to be interested in the charge times than the carpet fibers anyway.

    Range Envy

    Not everyone was as happy with the e-tron GT as we were: One vocal Tesla driver couldn't resist pulling alongside and rolling down his window to tell us his Tesla is better. It might just be, for now, because it's available. But when Audi starts turning out the GT in volume, the Tesla Model S is going to start looking a bit ordinary. Being first, however disruptive you are, doesn't necessarily mean you'll always be best.

    Tesla does have an edge in range, however. Audi says the GT will manage a range of quoted 250 miles when fully charged. That distance likely represents something approaching reality, the Volkswagen Audi Group having learned the hard way that misquoting numbers does no favors for anyone. But while the range is adequate, charging speeds are impressive.

    The GT should, with the correct 350-kW rapid chargers, be able to top up to 80 percent capacity, about 200 miles, in 20 minutes. Most will charge at home. And if you fit an 11-kW wireless charging pad at home, the e-tron GT's battery will be able to be topped up overnight without the inconvenience of plugging it in.

    The Volkswagen Audi Group has also committed to invest $2 billion in a charging infrastructure via partner Electrify America. It's a thoughtful move, and knowing it'll have access to plenty of charging stations should make not just Audi but VW and Porsche electric products more appealing to consumers.

    A 'Clean' Fight?

    What is certain is that with traditional manufacturers now ramping up their battery electric offerings, the Silicon Valley upstarts are going to have a fight on their hands. And if the Audi e-tron GT delivers on the potential promised by our brief, though impressive drive around downtown L.A., the fight for clean vehicle sales might just get very dirty indeed.

    Stay tuned to Edmunds for more news on the 2021 Audi e-tron GT.