There’s a revolution under way. An electric revolution. Not so long ago, the idea of a sports car would have been a big V8-engined, two-door muscle-car that was loud and proud. The kind of thing that made half of the population drool with envy and the other half roll their eyes in utter bemusement.
Now though, the rules have changed. And that fact is underlined by this, the new Audi e-tron GT. A four-door saloon that’s not just the most powerful road car that the German firm has ever produced, but is also fully electric with zero emissions. Yep, you read that right. Drop-dead gorgeous looks, scorching performance (more on that later) and very clean.
In fact, this is just the start for Audi. Some 30 electrified models are promised for showrooms by 2025 and 20 of those will be purely electric. The Q4 e-tron and Q4 e-tron Sportback SUVs are both due in 2022 with an A6 e-tron arriving in 2023 with a 435-mile range. Make no mistake, Audi is going full-on for plug-in power with this e-tron GT as its flagship.
If some of the e-tron GT’s dimensions and overall shape look familiar, then you’re not mistaken. Underneath the skin, the Audi e-tron GT is essentially the same car as the Porsche Taycan, but we think Audi’s offering is every bit as good to look at, if not better.
Sitting low and wide, there are two charging ports, one on each front wing, the low, sloping roofline and the full-width light bar at the rear – with Audi’s usual scrolling indicators of course. We think it’s stunning, especially so in the optional khaki Tactical Green.
In standard GT form, the e-tron has 476PS although this rises to 530PS when in boost mode while for the top-of-the-range RS those figures are an eye-watering 598 and 646PS, with all models boasting a 93kWh battery. While the GT version is expected to account for 80 per cent of sales, it has a 298 mile range in Vorsprung trim with all RS models having a slightly reduced range of 283 miles.
Audi claims an average economy of 2.88-3.12 mls/kWh (the new version of fuel economy for electric cars) while performance is startling with the RS model boasting a 0 to 62mph time of just 3.3 seconds in boost mode and a 155mph top speed. That is supercar-humbling pace.
We’re big fans of the Porsche Taycan and how that drives, so even before setting off we had a good idea of how this e-tron GT might feel on the road. That said, for all of Audi’s experience at producing fast saloons with its ICE RS models, while rapid they haven’t always been fully engaging on an emotional level.
It doesn’t take long for you to realise that that’s not the case with this e-tron GT. Settling down behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel, there’s a low-set driving position but still a good view out with the edges of the front wings slightly prominent helping you to place the car on the road.
We’d be lying if we said that you don’t feel that 2276kg kerb weight on the move, but at the same time it feels low down and you never feel hindered by it. Instead there’s just a wall of grunt under your right foot that provides non-stop acceleration as you gain confidence behind the wheel.
And, believe us when we say that you will want to drive the e-tron GT hard. It’s very addictive. Yes, there’s lots of grip – especially with the huge 21-inch wheels fitted to our test car – and there’s immediate acceleration always on tap, but it’s the way that the e-tron GT delivers all of that that’s so enticing.
With that low weight, the e-tron GT feels like it’s encouraging you through bends, building your confidence and enabling you to really lean on the tyres taking full advantage of the available grip through the corners. There are very few EVs that can boast this level of driver involvement and, perhaps unsurprisingly, only the Porsche Taycan has a similar level of feel.
It’s not perfect though. The regenerative braking fitted to all electric cars that helps to recharge the battery when you lift off the throttle pedal, isn’t that strong in the e-tron, even on its highest level. When more and more EV drivers are getting accustomed to one-pedal driving with strong regenerative braking in electric cars, it feels a little odd that Audi didn’t opt either for more aggressive levels of braking
Then there’s the perennial issue of range. Audi claims 298 miles, but in low-temperatures our fully-charged range dropped to 210 miles. Some spirited driving and excellent roads, including part of Scotland’s superb North Coast 500, saw us average 2.7mls/kWh over 170 miles, so not far off the official average power consumption figure.
Audi claims a 5 to 80 per cent charge in just 23 minutes at a 270kW charger, but they’re about as easy to find as an honest politician. Closer to everyday reality is the 13.5 hours that a full charge takes on a domestic car charging point.
Even with that performance, practicality is pretty reasonable with space for four adults (five at a squeeze) with good head and legroom, although foot space is a little compromised if the front seats are in their lowest positions. There’s also a 405-litre boot, which is shallow but usefully long, and an extra small boot under the front bonnet. Despite the looks though, the e-tron GT has a saloon boot and not a rear hatchback.
Unless you’re enjoying a lottery win, nobody would ever describe the £79,900 list price for the e-tron GT as cheap, but it does undercut the Porsche Taycan 4S, so it’s little surprise that a substantial 80 per cent of e-tron GT sales are expected to be the entry-level car. The RS versions are obviously faster with the extra power, but pay the price financially starting at £110,950 and rising to the flagship RS GT Carbon Vorsprung at £133,340.
This e-tron GT is easily one of the best EVs for keen drivers that we’ve been behind the wheel of – a crucial factor when you consider the current lack of competition in the sports car market. Considering the lack of driver involvement for Audi’s standard e-tron, if this GT is anything to go by, then the EV future with Audi looks very bright indeed.
Model: Audi e-tron GT
On sale: now
Price: from £79,900
Engine: Electric – 93kW
Range: 298 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km