– the new Audi e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT are about to conduct electricity in an exciting new direction for the Vorsprung durch Technik brand.
Launching simultaneously this spring, the new GT sports cars combine breathtaking and instantly accessible accelerative force and zero local emissions with compellingly incisive handling, exceptional trans-continental cruising comfort and ultra-sophisticated infotainment and driver assistance technology.
"Audi has signalled its intent to play a pivotal role in the evolution of sustainable mobility in the premium sector, and after opening our account with the e-tron SUV, which is notable as the best-selling German premium BEV globally, we are stepping up the pace again to further that aim," says Andrew Doyle, Director of Audi UK.
"The new e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT are products of the same assiduous Vorsprung durch Technik approach to electrified driving, but embody it in a highly emotive and exciting new Grand Tourer format that exploits the technology’s incredible performance potential even more fully and will be invaluable as a means of hastening its wider acceptance."
The exterior of the e-tron GT is a dynamic work of art. It is the embodiment of an expressive design language that emphasises the longstanding positioning of Audi as an innovator in this field and will be evident in the more fluid lines of the brand’s forthcoming electrified models. The long wheelbase, wide track, large wheels and low-lying silhouette provide the foundations for beautifully balanced proportions that are also highly effective from an aerodynamic perspective. This equates to a low drag coefficient of 0.24 which favours efficiency and therefore driving range.
Standing just 1.41-metres high, and with a width of 1.96 metres and a length of 4.99 metres stretched over a 2.90-metre wheelbase, the Audi e-tron GT has the dimensions of a classic grand tourer. At its front, the inverted colour scheme of the Singleframe bearing the Audi rings provides a clue to the unorthodox powertrain at its heart. The radiator grille, which reinterprets the classic honeycomb pattern, is optionally available in body colour for the first time in an Audi model. In RS versions the grille and lateral air inlets are framed by a black mask.
While the main purpose of the Singleframe in models with a combustion engine is to cool the engine, in the e-tron GT it conceals the majority of the sensors, with only the sections in the lower of the six corners remaining open for air supply. Behind these sections, and the large ribs under the headlights, are controllable cooling air inlets which provide active aerodynamics. In the interest of optimal air flow, these inlets remain closed as often as possible, opening only during more sporting driving, when Y-shaped channels direct air to the coolers and into the front wheel arches in order to cool the brakes. The air inlets in the frontal lower section also play an important role. The upright air curtains on their outer edges ingest cooling air in such a way that it flows close to the wheels and then laterally.
As is customary for Audi in the UK, this captivating new take on the classic grand tourer theme will also be available in conjunction with a particularly lavish Vorsprung specification option in the case of the e-tron GT quattro, and in the RS e-tron GT can be enhanced by Carbon Black and Carbon Vorsprung equipment lines.
Where the important and brand-defining aspect of lighting is concerned, UK versions of the e-tron GT will be equipped with LED headlamps with striking 3D-look signature daytime running lights and dynamic front and rear indicators as standard. Even more sophisticated Matrix LED headlights with segmented clusters that enable ultra-precise targeting of their continuous high beams will also be available for this model as part of an optional Comfort and Sound pack. Vorsprung versions, and all RS e-tron GT models, upgrade to Matrix LED units with Audi laser light, incorporating an additional laser spot active at speeds of 43mph and above to double the beam’s range.
The flow of the e-tron GT design is particularly evident in profile. The elongated bonnet and flat windscreen merge elegantly into a rapidly sloping roof line, and the glass house extends tautly over the powerful body, drawing in particularly sharply towards the rear, where the gently inclined C-pillars blend beautifully with the body’s muscular shoulders.
Sharp edges give particular definition to the large wheel arches, forming ‘quattro blisters’ which visually reference the presence of a new generation of electric quattro all-wheel drive. They are a stylistic feature of many Audi models, but nowhere else they are as strongly pronounced as in the e-tron GT.
At the rear, a visually offset diffuser creates a look which is unmistakable within the Audi product portfolio, while a sculptural full-width light strip with graduated light segments makes the e-tron GT appear even more powerful. A spoiler with integrated spoiler lip runs parallel to this and extends electrically into two different positions depending on the driving situation as another active contribution to aerodynamics. It works closely with the smooth underbody that culminates in the wide diffuser, allowing the air to flow cleanly off the rear end, and compensating to a significant extent for the lift that occurs at the rear axle at high speeds.
The design of the e-tron GT is also exceptionally well resolved where aeroacoustics is concerned. Its windscreen is made of noise-insulating glass as standard, as are the side and rear windows in e-tron quattro Vorsprung and RS e-tron Carbon Vorsprung models. Components made of hot-shaped and therefore ultra-high strength steel form the strong backbone of the passenger cell, helping to maximise rigidity and noise suppression in combination with targeted insulation measures throughout the entire body.
In the e-tron GT quattro imposing 20 inch wheels with low rolling resistance tyres accentuate the four-door coupé’s powerful stance, while 21-inch designs in either platinum grey or gloss black (depending on version) give the various RS e-tron GT models even greater presence. A new production process used for the aluminium from which these wheels are made reduces net CO2 emissions considerably.
To complement the stylish wheel designs, nine available paint finishes are available, including the new colour tactical green, and in the RS e-tron GT these are combined with a black styling package. In addition to this, the RS e-tron GT Carbon Black and Carbon Vorsprung models not only add a gloss carbon styling package, but also a full carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) roof and CFRP exterior mirror housings.
In the cabin, the strong focus on the driver, inspired by the “monoposto” idea, is a characteristic of Audi performance models and of the e-tron GT in particular. The upper section of the light, lean instrument panel with its pronounced three-dimensional look forms an elegant arc, and the display of the standard Audi virtual cockpit plus stands freely within it, while the MMI touch monitor surrounded by a black piano finish bezel appears to float in the central space. In e-tron GT Vorsprung versions and above a lasered and backlit “e-tron” badge in the right-hand section augments the high-tech atmosphere as part of the ambient lighting package.
A strong contour bisects the upper and lower sections of the dashboard, the latter housing the control panel for the standard three-zone automatic air conditioning system with its physical buttons. The flat lateral air vents with their aluminium-faced edges underline the width of the interior, as does the long arc below the windscreen which sweeps around to meet the front door trims, creating a wraparound effect.
The driver and front passenger sit low in the cockpit separated by a wide centre console which houses the gear selector switch, its compact design emphasising the sense of space and providing a highly precise haptic control experience. In the e-tron GT quattro they are gripped by sport seats with integrated head restraints and electric eight-way adjustment upholstered in a combination of leather and synthetic leather. Travellers in the e-tron GT Vorsprung and RS e-tron GT models enjoy an upgrade to Front Sport Seats Pro with 18-way adjustment, ventilation and massage capability and full perforated fine Nappa leather upholstery.
The rear seats offer sufficient space even for adults, who are able to sit lower and position their feet in what is known as a ‘foot garage’ thanks to a recess incorporated in the design of the battery pack running beneath the passenger compartment which effectively compensates for the tapering roof line. Their luggage can be stowed in the rear load area, providing a volume of up to 405 litres (14.3 cu ft) depending on version, and in a second luggage compartment beneath the bonnet offering a further 81 litres (2.9 cu ft) of space.
The fully electric gran turismo from Audi promises exhilaration regardless of version: The e-tron GT accelerates from rest to 62mph in 4.1 seconds, while the RS model needs 3.3 seconds (in boost mode in each case). Top speeds are governed at 152mph and 155mph respectively.
The front electric motor in the e-tron GT delivers 175 kW (238 PS), to which the rear motor is able to contribute a further 320 kW (435 PS), however both keep reserves available for extreme driving situations, meaning that the sum of their individual outputs exceeds the drive system’s total output of 350 kW (476 PS) by some margin. Up to 390 kW (530 PS) can be made available for 2.5 seconds in boost mode via launch control. The total torque is 630 Nm (464.7 lb-ft). In the RS e-tron GT, the electric motor on the front axle shares the e-tron GT’s 175 kW (238 PS) output, while the motor in the rear provides 335 kW (456 PS). The total output is 440 kW (598 PS), and the total torque is 830 Nm (612.2 lb-ft). In boost mode, the output briefly increases to 475 kW (646 PS).
The PSM motors (permanently excited synchronous motors) in the e-tron GT work with great efficiency. The electric motor, its power electronics, and the transmission form a compact block on both axles. The rear electric motor transfers its torque to a two-speed transmission. The short-ratio first gear enables stunning acceleration when the launch control function is deployed. When it isn’t, the e-tron GT starts off in second gear. Generally speaking, the long-ratio second gear improves efficiency and also provides large amounts of reserve power.
To further enrich the driving experience, a unique ‘soundscape’ is also available for all e-tron GT models. The e-tron sport sound, which is standard equipment for RS e-tron models and optionally available for the e-tron GT quattro variants, comprises two control units and amplifiers in the luggage compartment. These generate separate exterior and interior sounds and transmit them via two loudspeakers each outside and inside the vehicle. Data about the rotational speed of the electric motors, the load, the vehicle speed, and other parameters serves as the basis for the synthesised digital sound, the nuances of which vary depending on the work performed by the drive system.
Drivers can also modulate the sound via Audi drive select. In the “efficiency” profile, only the AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System) is active, which already generates a broader sound than is legally required. In “comfort” mode the exterior sound is fuller, and it becomes even more powerful in the “dynamic” profile, when the interior sound is also added.
The e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT usually travel with electric all-wheel drive engaged, except when “efficiency” mode is activated via the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, in which case front-wheel-drive is prioritised. On slippery road surfaces, or when high power requirements or fast cornering demand it, the electric motor for rear-wheel drive is also activated in this mode around five times faster than with a mechanical quattro drivetrain. The electric all-wheel drive regulates the drive torque distribution between the axles continuously, fully variably, and within a few thousandths of a second. The quattro principle with which Audi revolutionised road car dynamics more than 40 years ago has fully evolved in order to make the leap into the new era of electrification.
When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, the drive system usually switches to sailing mode, allowing the grand tourer to glide relaxedly and with impeccable refinement. The only exception occurs when ‘dynamic’ is the defined setting in Audi drive select, in which case the car recuperates in overrun mode. In both situations, the driver can use the paddles on the steering wheel to adjust two manual recuperation levels or select an automatic level in the MMI system. In this case, the predictive efficiency assist regulates sailing and recuperation on the basis of data from the navigation route and the on-board sensors.
While braking, the electric motors perform decelerations alone up to around 0.3 g, i.e. the vast majority of all brake applications in everyday driving. This allows them to recuperate up to 265 kW. The hydraulic wheel brakes are activated only when the driver brakes very heavily, with recuperation remaining active almost until the vehicle comes to a standstill.
e-tron GT quattro from £79,900 OTR, RS e-tron GT from £110,950 OTR