Audi e-Tron GT Review
The earliest electric cars were earnest machines that did everything they could to appeal to the ecologically minded. But today, electric cars are increasingly mainstream, and increasingly designed to appeal to, well, everyone. If a new green technology is going to take over, you’ve got to bring along those that don’t necessarily have zero-emission driving at the forefront of their priorities, so you need universal appeal. Tesla has been doing it for some time, Porsche has done it with the Taycan, and now Audi is doing it with this: the E-Tron GT. Sure, it’s a zero-emission, full-electric four-door saloon, but that’s not the main selling point. It’s a luxurious performance car with stellar acceleration and handling to splash a smile across your face. The fact that it emits no pollutants is a very worthy side-effect.
Select's rating score* - 4.4 / 5
This is Audi’s new flagship car. Well, one of them at least. As far as performance goes, the E-Tron GT is as good as it gets in a portfolio of electric cars that seems to be getting larger every month. While it now has several all-electric SUVs to choose from, the E-Tron GT turns owning an electric Audi into something altogether sexier and more exciting. The GT is a performance machine, equal parts sports car and grand tourer, designed to excite on suitable roads and whisk you along in comfort on the motorway. It’s a direct rival to the Porsche Taycan, and is likely to tempt a few customers away from the Tesla Model S too. Two versions are available: the E-Tron GT, which is fast, and the RS E-GTron GT, which is really, really fast. Both feature the same battery that will give you up to 296 miles on a single charge, and both have space for four adults and a good smattering of luggage. It’s great to drive, very quick and still very comfortable, and it’ll give those looking for a high-end electric performance car plenty to think about.
The E-tron GT is a coupe-inspired four-door saloon, with a raking, squat profile but genuinely usable rear seats and a large boot. The idea is that it can be plenty of fun on a country road, but you could also take the family on holiday with it. Its marketing headlines are chiefly concerned with performance, as you’d expect; the standard E-Tron GT will hit 62mph from standstill in 4.1 seconds, which is extremely quick. The RS E-Tron GT will do it in 3.3, which is hard to envisage unless you’ve experienced it. Suffice to say, it’s not too far off a Formula 1 car. And yet this is a vehicle with all the latest entertainment, information and safety tech you’d expect of a high-end, luxurious car, and it has an interior to match. Lots of leather, lots of screens, lots of equipment. Space for four passengers, and a very usable boot. A battery range of 283 or 296 miles, according to official tests and depending on which model you go for. The potential for ultra-fast 270kW DC charging, which drastically reduces battery refill times. In short, it’s got a lot to offer.
Both versions of the E-Tron GT have a 93.4kWh battery, connected to two electric motors – one for the front wheels, and one for the rears. In the regular car, that means a range of up to 296 miles, according to official lab tests. The extra power extracted in the RS E-Tron GT comes at the cost of range, which drops to 283 miles. That’s a touch below the Porsche Taycan’s maximum range of 301 miles (when equipped with its Performance Plus battery), and some way below the claimed 405 miles of the Tesla Model S Long Range. However, it’s still a very usable figure, and should let you do even the longest of commutes without having to charge midway through your journey. Of course, if you start to use the performance of the car – and if you’re after a car like this, then you probably will – then that theoretical range will drop.
When even the ‘entry-level’ E-Tron GT can boast 530 horsepower – more than double that of most hot hatches – you know you’re looking at something seriously quick. The slowest car will sprint from standstill to the benchmark 62mph in 4.1 seconds, which is fast in any kind of car, and the RS model will do it in 3.3 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest production cars available.
But even that’s not the whole story. Because of the nature of electric motors, the maximum amount of thrust is available straight away, with no need to wait for engine revs to climb. All-wheel drive as standard (one motor on each axle) means tremendous traction. There are only two gears, so you don’t need to pause every second to shift. The result is instant and continuous acceleration that at full pelt will take your breath away. Sure, you don’t get the dramatic soundtrack of a multi-cylindered petrol engine with a sports exhaust; what you get is different, but it’s no less exciting. Normal peak power is 476 horsepower or 598 in the RS, but a ‘boost’ feature can up that to 530hp (646hp in the RS) for 2.5 seconds.
Perhaps incredibly, those figures only make the E-Tron GT third fastest of its nearest rivals. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S will hit 62mph in 2.8 seconds, while Tesla claims – to some scepticism – that its Model S Plaid will hit 60mph in 1.9 seconds.
There is, however, more to a performance car than headline sprint figures. Handling is very important too. If Porsche’s Taycan is a scalpel in this regard, the E-Tron GT is more a high-end kitchen knife; the Audi is a very focused, dynamically excellent sports car, but it’s got a more comfortable feel to it that makes it more of a grand tourer than an out-and-out sports car. The steering isn’t as weighty as the Porsche, although it’s still beautifully accurate. The ride quality, though firm, shouldn’t shake your passengers’ fillings; adaptive dampers can be tweaked to increase stiffness or softness depending on what kind of driving you’re doing. The RS model comes with air suspension that increases the comfort level, and it’s optional on the standard car. Road and wind noise are insulated against well, although the downside of a virtually silent drivetrain is that you’ll hear almost every creak and rattle at lower speeds.
If you’re after pure driving engagement, the Porsche is the best, but the Audi isn’t far behind. Both are better than the very fast Tesla, which isn’t as fun in the bends.
You can charge your E-Tron GT from a home wallbox or a public charger, or even using a regular three-pin socket. It comes with a Mode 3/Type 2 AC cable for wallbox and public charging, and a 1.6-metre mains charging cable. If you use a three-pin socket however, it’ll take a very long time to recharge – around 43 hours.
Much better to use a 7kW home wallbox, which will take around 14 hours, or 9.5 hours at an 11kW public charger. For a super-fast refill, you can use a DC CCS rapid charger to fill up from empty to 80% capacity in just 23 minutes at 270kW. That’s faster than the Tesla will manage with its Superchargers, although it’s much easier to find a Tesla charger than a rapid charger.
The E-Tron GT is a high-end, premium performance car, and that’s reflected in monthly leasing costs. But comparisons to the Porsche Taycan are pretty favourable; you can pick up a Taycan for less, but there’s a wider range of Porsches available, and the more affordable Taycans are less powerful. Bang-for-buck, there’s very little between them. Both are considerably more affordable than a Model S.
Of course, unlike petrol-powered performance cars, you won’t have to fork out huge amounts at the pumps. However you decide to charge your E-Tron GT, it’ll be much cheaper than filling up on premium petrol. The most affordable way will be at home, however; try and charge overnight on a tariff that gives you cheaper power at off-peak times.
Insurance won’t be cheap. As a high-performance luxury car, all versions of the E-Tron GT sit in the highest insurance group, and premiums will be accordingly pricey.
Audi’s reputation for interior quality is unmatched outside of ultra-high-end cars like Bentley. That said, not every model that the brand makes matches the best it can do, and some might find a few quibbles with the interior of the E-Tron GT, especially considering its price. They will be just quibbles though, as overall the cabin feels a beautifully made, stylish and luxurious environment. It’s just that the materials in the Porsche Taycan are even nicer, and even better screwed together. Poke around in the Audi and you’ll find a few bits of plastic that don’t feel as premium as they should. But both Audi and Porsche are better than the slightly disappointing interior quality of the Tesla.
The Porsche and Audi share a lot mechanically, and the driving position of the E-Tron GT is very similar to the Taycan, with a seat that goes nice and low and lots of adjustment in seating and steering wheel position. Behind the wheel is a big digital driver display in place of traditional analogue instruments, and it’s easy to read, use and configure to show your preferred information. In the centre of the dash, angled towards the driver, is a 10.1-inch touchscreen with the same infotainment system that Audi uses in other models. It’s a good one; easy to use, slick to look at and packed with features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, Tesla’s Model S infotainment system is something pretty special, with a huge portrait touchscreen interface and the ability to play video games or even watch YouTube or Netflix. Whether you’d actually want to do that in your car is another issue. Tesla doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto though, and as you need to change pretty much everything via the Model S’s touchscreen, it can sometimes be fiddly; the Audi lets you adjust the climate control, for example, using physical buttons, which is easier.
Other tech in the E-Tron GT includes Matrix LED headlights on higher-end models, which let you keep high beam on at night without dazzling oncoming traffic. High-spec models also get a night vision camera, but surprisingly for such a high-end car, adaptive cruise control isn’t standard across the range. You also don’t get the breadth of ‘self-driving’ technology that you can spec on the Model S.
Space in the E-Tron is pretty decent for a performance car, but there are sacrifices made in the name of style. Those up front will have no complaints, with plenty of space for even larger adults. It’s not too bad in the back either, with plenty of headroom for tall adults, at least in cars with the panoramic sunroof. Legroom is adequate without being generous. Although you can in theory fit three in the back of the Audi, we wouldn’t advise more than two for very long, as a raised floor in the centre means legroom in the middle is very tight. The Taycan is broadly similar in the back, while the Tesla has much more space.
The Model S has the biggest boot too. While the Audi’s rear space isn’t tiny, it’s not massive at 405 litres. The RS boot is smaller still at 350 litres, and the saloon boot – hinged at the bottom of the windscreen – is less practical than a hatchback. There is a small storage space in the front of the E-Tron GT, which you can use for a small suitcase, or to keep the charging cables in. Or you can keep them in an underfloor space in the back, as long as you haven’t opted for the upgraded sound system, which fills it up with a subwoofer.
General storage isn’t brilliant, but it’s not bad either. There are reasonably-sized door pockets, a big glovebox, two cupholders in a slightly awkward place between the front seats and a storage spot next to them, although it’s very narrow. A larger space sits under a lid behind it.
At the time of writing, the E-Tron GT hadn’t been tested by independent safety organisation Euro NCAP. However, Audi has a strong history of scoring the maximum five stars with its cars, and we’d be very surprised if the E-Tron GT wasn’t made to similar standards. In addition, the Audi shares much mechanically with the Porsche Taycan, which also scored five stars.
Audi includes plenty of the latest safety kit, including automatic emergency braking and a lane-keep assist, but blind-spot monitoring is only an option (or standard on higher-spec models). Every model gets front, side and curtain airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
There are several flavours of E-Tron GT to choose from: two types of the regular car, and three of the RS E-Tron GT.
Starting at the beginning, the entry-level is the E-Tron GT Quattro, which for many will be the obvious choice in the range. It comes with a good amount of kit, as you’d expect at this end of the market, although there are a few features that are only optional. Standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels and LED lights, adaptive dampers on the suspension and a panoramic sunroof.
Upgrade to the E-Tron GT Vorsprung, and you’ll get black alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights and upgraded sports seats, as well as carbon inlays inside. On top of that, Vorsprung cars have air suspension and all-wheel steering, which aids stability at higher speeds and makes for a tighter turning circle when manoeuvring. Oh, there’s a Bang & Olufsen sound system too. And a head-up display.
The entry-level RS E-Tron GT has black styling elements on the outside, to differentiate it from the standard car. It has 21-inch alloy wheels, air suspension and the B&O sound system and all-wheel steering. The RS E-Tron GT Carbon Black is almost identical in spec, but adds a carbon fibre styling park, which puts the high-tech material on the side air ducts and rear diffuser as well as in the door trim and front bumper.
Top of the tree is the RS E-Tron GT Carbon Vorsprung, which has acoustic glazing for reduced sound inside, ventilated front seats with a snazzy massage function, and heated seats in the rear as well as the front.
Options are many. You can swap out all the leather elements for vegan-friendly alternatives, add powerful carbon-ceramic brakes and pick from a variety of packs. These bundle together various options, including the Matrix LED headlights, upgraded sound system, cameras, air suspension and adaptive cruise control. Then there are plenty of wheel and paint choices as well.
Two main rivals stand out at the time of writing, but with new electric cars hitting the market all the time, that could have increased by the time you read this. The Porsche Taycan is the E-Tron GT’s main competition, and offers more choice in the range and a sharper driving experience, but at a higher cost. You can also get the Taycan in the more practical Sport Turismo estate body style, which could swing more customers towards it. Then you have the Tesla Model S, which has become hugely popular since it first appeared in 2012. It’s still a very decent car, with lots of space and, depending on which model you go for, has unbeatable straightline performance and battery range. But it can’t match the Porsche or Audi for handling ability, or interior quality.
The Audi E-Tron GT marks another option in the growing world of hugely powerful but zero-emission performance cars. It doesn’t have the rapier-like handling of the Porsche Taycan, but it’s not far behind. It doesn’;t have the practicality, range or straight line speed of the Tesla Model S, but it’s still a very fast machine that’ll easily hold four adults. On top of that it’s a great-looking car that’s available for less per month than either of its rivals. Plenty will find that it’s the middle ground that they’re looking for, and those that do will not be disappointed by it.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi E-Tron GT
**Correct as of 19/08/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £7,518.44 - Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.