The first Audi E-Tron I drove was a hybrid A3 way back in 2015.
It could run on electricity alone, so qualified as an EV. It was Audi’s first electrified offering, but certainly not its last.
The game has moved on since then, with fully electric cars that now bear the E-Tron badge, not the least of which is the E-Tron GT that we drove this week.
I hadn’t ventured forth from Audi’s Sydney bunker before a customer in a Ferrari jacket accosted me, wanting to know all about the car.
“It’s an E-Tron GT,” I said. At least that’s what it said on the back.
At the time it was about all I could tell him. I was as new to the car as he was, so I’ll endeavour to answer that question now.
With similar lines to a Porsche 911, but four doors and a back seat, E-Tron GT sits at the top of the Audi performance range — well, one from the top anyway.
There’s an even more powerful, more expensive RS version.
What’s it cost?
The Audi counterpart of the Porsche Taycan and successor to the R8, prices start from a nose-bleed $181,700 plus on roads for the GT and, big intake of breath — $249,700 for the RS E-Tron (love the way they round up the figures).
Our test vehicle, the E-Tron GT, finished in Metallic Kemora Grey with black interior trim, was fitted with the optional Premium plus package at $7500, plus a body-coloured single frame grille at $850, taking the total price to $190,050 before on-roads.
The Premium pack adds 20-inch alloys with black elements, colour ambient lighting, privacy glass, air quality package and illuminated aluminium door sills.
That buys you a gorgeous piece of motoring machinery, with 350kW on tap (390kW in charge-sucking boost mode) and a claimed range of up to 488km from a single charge.
A 270kW DC charger, if you can find one, will buy you another 100km in just five minutes — a full charge in a little over 20 minutes.
It’s got two charge ports too, both near the front — one supports AC, the other AC and DC charging.
Standard are leather and three-zone climate air, a fixed glass roof and power boot lid, electric front seat and steering column adjustment with driver seat memory, with sport seats finished in leather upholstery, complemented by either graphite grey or walnut grey-brown inlays.
Infotainment in the form of Audi Connect plus, brings wireless smartphone interface and charging, FM/DAB+ digital radio (but no AM) and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, plus two USB sockets front and back.
A 710 watt Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker sound system makes up for the lack of any engine noise.
Like most high end vehicles, the E-Tron does not have a safety rating as it has not been tested by any organisation.
That’s fine, but at the same time it’s not good enough in this day and age and is rated accordingly.
It does however get a full suite of driver assistance systems including front, side and curtain airbags, a rear view camera and Autonomous Emergency Braking and pedestrian detection – detects impending collisions at up to 85 km/h.
There’s also head-up display, side assist, adaptive cruise assist, active lane assist, intersection assist, pre-sense, 360-degree cameras, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Buyers can select between six no-cost metallic finishes, or solid Ibis white.
The E-Tron GT is covered by a 5-year warranty, plus 8 years on the battery and 12 years against corrosion, along with 6 years of free servicing and roadside assistance.
Both e-tron GT and RS E-Tron GT are also offered with a complimentary standard installation for charging at home, courtesy of Jetcharge, as well as a 6-year subscription to the Chargefox charging network.
What’s it go like?
The E-Tron GT sits long and low with a small door opening and steeply raked roofline that can make getting in and out a challenge.
With four doors and seating for five occupants, it’s a proper GT in the sense of the term, but it could become a little claustrophobic back there.
Forget about the fifth tight seating position, this is a 4+1, with rear legroom is surprisingly limited and there’s not enough places to put things in the cabin.
The back window looks like it should open, but look more closely and you will see the shut line where it ends and the boot starts.
The 405-litre boot is deep but narrow and there’s another 85-litre one in the front which is perfect for storing charge cables.
Good luck finding the release.
The GT has two electric motors, one for the front and one for the rear axle, with a combined output output of 350kW of power (390kW in boost mode) and 630Nm of torque (640Nm in boost mode).
The RS version takes it a step further, with 440kW (475kW on boost) and 830Nm — and is the most powerful production Audi ever.
Drive is to all four wheels with a two-speed transmission and an on-demand ‘e-quattro’ all-wheel drive system.
The front electric motor provides drive to the front wheels alone through a planetary gear set, while the rear electric motor drives the rear wheels via a two-speed gearbox.
The two-speed transmission is designed to deliver sharper acceleration off the mark, especially in pin-your-ears-back Dynamic mode.
Energy consumption for the GT is a claimed 19.2kWh/100km.
Weighing in at 2351kg, despite extensive use of aluminium, the dash from 0-100km/h in the GT takes 4.1 seconds — the RS does it in a blistering 3.3 seconds.
With a 93kWh battery, Audi claims a range of up to 488km (WLTP). Useable battery capacity is 84kWh, however, which suggests more like 438km.
Recharging at the maximum 270kW DC capacity can provide a 100km top up in just five minutes, but of course you need to locate a 270kW commercial charger (most are 22kW).
They’re the essentials anyway.
The GT also boasts adaptive air suspension and rides on 20-inch alloys, with 245/45s at the front and 285/40 rubber at the rear.
But note, there’s no room for a spare — a tyre repair kit is provided.
State of the art LED matrix headlights with front and rear dynamic indicators rate a mention.
They provide daytime running lights, dipped beam, high beam, positioning lights, turning lights, all-weather lights, motorway lights, synthetic cornering lights, automatic-dynamic headlight range control, dynamic light design and headlight washing system. Phew.
The tail lights are LED too, with more built-in pyrotechnics.
On the road, the E-Tron GT is a piece of work, whizzing past traffic, with the ability to overtake virtually at will.
It’s the most engaging performance-orientated EV that we’ve driven so far. If only it had another 100km of range to offer.
Some guy in Chrysler 300 SRT wanted to play. He got the message really quickly.
The ride is surprisingly supple thanks to the adaptive suspension and handling is neutral with 50:50 weight distribution.
With pin-sharp steering, benchmark braking and a low centre of gravity, the car sticks like glue.
But given its size and weight, it’s a long way from being a nimble coupe.
It’s not all peaches and cream either.
Over the shoulder vision from the driver’s seat is in a word terrible.
There’s a small narrow rear window and massive rear pillars to deal with, but the worst part is judging the forward extremities.