The rise of electrified vehicles in Europe have been meteoric, driven by economic necessity rather than for Earth’s sake. This, in turn, forced carmakers to think around the battery to make an EV that still retains the characteristics of a traditional petrol-guzzling vehicle. Audi has been working hard to make electric cars palatable by all with the e-tron and e-tron Sportback. The new vehicle — e-tron GT — takes everything that Audi has learned so far and dumped it into a four-door sports car.
The e-tron GT will be manufactured at Audi’s Neckarsulm production facility in Germany, alongside the R8 supercar starting at the end of 2020. The Neckarsulm plant has been expanded, upgraded, and converted to cater to the production of an all-electric vehicle. The plant can now incorporate new digital processes and smart technologies while retaining the old skilled craftsmanship.
The e-tron GT will be mostly constructed from ultra-high-strength steel and aluminium, which varies from the all-aluminium construction of the R8. The body shop of the e-tron GT had to be 85 per cent automated, and feature an innovative body assembly line incorporating a two-way framer, thus making the production of the Audi e-tron GT possible on the existing floor space.
Aside from the apparent all-electric platform, the e-tron GT is an exceptional vehicle to look forward too as well. A long, low and wide stance of the e-tron GT, combined with the sloping Sportback rear end give the 4-door coupe a sporty yet elegant design. If you see echoes of the Porsche Taycan EV in the e-tron GT’s design, you’d be right. Audi had co-developed the body design and materials with Porsche while remaining unmistakably Audi.
The signature Audi Singleframe grille dominates the front fascia, flanked by very aggressively designed Matrix LED headlights, unique to the e-tron GT. Large air intakes manage the airflow around the car, mainly targeted to the cooling of the powertrain assemblies, namely the batteries and brakes.
Along the sides, the e-tron GT features large, bulbous wheel arches that lead to the muscular shoulder lines that stretch till the rear doors. From there onwards, the wide rear hips are accentuated with an almost wrap-around character line that harmoniously incorporates the rear tail-light fixture. A light strip stretches across the back that leads to the individual wedge-shaped LED light clusters. The lights are also animated here and welcome the driver with a short ‘dance’ sequence which is now a fixture in most modern Audi’s.
With a 2.9-meter long wheelbase, the interior of the e-tron GT has plenty of room for its occupants. At the same time, the cockpit is driver-focused. The centre console features a large, prominent infotainment touchscreen, with a free-standing instrument cluster that has been ergonomically designed for ease of driver access.
The digital driver’s display is entirely customisable according to the driver’s preference, from various instrument dials to live navigation maps. In line with the eco-friendly theme, the Audi e-tron GT comes with a vegan-friendly interior, with synthetic leather is used on the seats and other trim surfaces. Besides, recycled fabrics are used for seat cushions and armrest. A very respectable 450 litres of cargo capacity in the rear, with an additional 100 litres in the ‘frunk’, are available for storage.
Propelling the e-tron GT are two electric motors that are fitted on both axles, pushing out an estimated 590hp and driving all four wheels. With an electronically managed all-wheel-drive system, the e-tron GT is expected to perform the 0-100kph sprint in just 3.5 seconds, going on to reach 200kph in just over 12 seconds. Top speed is restricted to 240kph, which, let’s face it, is too fast for most public roads.
For a car like this, sound plays an important part. Sound provides the emotional link from human to machine, and a good engine roar always sends shivers down the spine. Audi has gone to great lengths to engineer the sound of the e-tron GT. Far from the V10 wails of an R8 or turbocharged fury of an 80’s era Audi Quattro, the so-called ‘e-sound’ of the e-tron GT has been developed on a computer to give the sound an individual character.
The e-tron GT will be powered by a 90kWh lithium-ion battery that takes up the entire underfloor between the front and rear axle. This ensures optimal weight distribution and lowers the centre of gravity. The e-tron GT has a projected range of 400km, with an energy recovery system that is supposed to increase range by up to 30 per cent.
The e-tron GT can be charged several ways, primarily with a cable using the charging port on the front wing, or induction charging utilising a charging pad with Audi Wireless Charging. The latter has an 11kW charging output, allowing the vehicle to be charged to full overnight.
Wired charging is now much faster as the e-tron GT is fitted with an 800-volt charging system. With the capacity to charge the battery from empty to 80 per cent in just 20 minutes, the system is also compatible with standard recharging stations, albeit with slower charging speeds. If the 800-volt charging system gains mass acceptance, it will be a game-changing system as it significantly reduces charging time.
It has been a long time coming for the Audi e-tron GT, with almost two years of teasers and concepts. Promising an impressive balance of high performance, long-range and rapid recharging times, the e-tron GT should be an excellent alternative to the Porsche Taycan.