The flagship, all-electric top model in the Audi lineup has arrived and it was handed to me for a ten-day road test, allowing me to experience the new e-tron GT up close and personal.
Electrification is one of the key ingredients in the automotive world these days. With EVs popping up left, right and center, the e-tron GT was the obvious next step for me to jump on board for a proper look and test drive. The vehicle, based on Audi/Porsche’s J1 platform, also used for the Porsche Taycan model range, follows a series of electrified SUVs from Ingolstadt under the names e-tron and e-tron Sportback. The new, 2022 e-tron GT is available as two model variants the normal GT and the RS GT, which is the first electric Audi to wear the RS badge.
The “entry-level” model was made available to me and came in the Suzuka Grey metallic color, an optional extra. Under the skin you will find the nearly identical underpinnings to Porsche’s non-entry level Taycan models. The setup is based around the 800V technology, which should enable 350kW recharging and includes dual motors, a two-speed transmission and a 93-kilowatt-hour battery. The usable portion of the battery is only 83.7kWh making for a 298 mile (480 km) range. But like many EV owners will know, you will likely never reach this range and you will end up with a maximum of about 80 percent of Audi’s claimed figure. In addition to this, you will often charge from 10 percent and 90 percent, and you end up with a real world range of about 186 miles (300 km) between charges, which is considerably shorter than expected.
LET’S LOOK AROUND
More on the range and charging later in this story. Let’s first look around the car, admire its beauty, check the interior and run you through the details.
First up, the performance of the GT comes from a maximum 523 bhp with its eight-second overboost (469 bhp otherwise). With the overboost, you will be able to reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.1 seconds, similar to the Taycan 4S. The delivery of power under normal circumstances is more subtle and less immediate than the Porsche. The engineers at Audi choose for a more distinct delivery of power instead of the more sporty nature in the Porsche. It’s smoother and quieter than it is in your face. Although it is never slow, just a touch more relaxed.
The exterior design of the GT is surely one of its highlights, even though it seems to follow the body lines of the Porsche. The Audi EV was admired throughout my time driving it and numerous people were sharing their love while I silently passed by them. At traffic lights, windows went down, with people sharing their personal thoughts on the new EV, often accompanied with questions about how it was. I even had an owner of a Q7 PHEV visit one of my charging sessions to check the car, inside and out, trying to convince his wife that it should be their new ride going forward.
While stepping inside the GT, you notice the differences, and also the resemblances, with the Taycan design. The button for the front bonnet release for instance is positioned in an awkward place inside the left front door, similar to the Porsche. On the other end of the spectrum, you will find an interior which offers a familiar design in connection to other high-end Audi models. The cabin is cozy and compact, feels more spacious in the front than in the rear where larger humans lack decent space for their legs and head room due to the sloping roof line. Also the trunk isn’t overall spacious.
Instead of the Porsche’s dual touchscreen display, Audi has gone for their usual setup of one 10.1-inch MMI screen, which is placed in the center of the dashboard. Controls for the air conditioning are situated below the screen and offer an analog touch. A series of hard buttons for quick and easy adjustments of the climate control and seat heating are not the only hardware buttons, but do make the ergonomics inside the cabin more approachable for owners who have used other Audi models before. In front of the driver and behind the flat-bottom steering wheel, you will find Audi’s standard 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display which offers all the necessary information and provides a good overview of data while charging.
The cabin is built in true Audi style and has the quality we know from the Germans. It’s less futuristic than many other EVs in the market and offers a more approachable setup. The only oddity are the front seats, which are superb for taller people. However, smaller people might have a problem finding a proper seating position. The back rest and especially the height of the headrest are not properly thought through. The head rest is fixed and shorter people (under 1.65m) won’t fully reach the head rest, making their seating position far from the best. Other than this there is not much to add. The interior feels like an Audi and breathes its familiar signature.
IS IT A GOOD EV?
This leaves us with its driving dynamics and ability to be an EV. After moving the gear selector into D, the first meters happen with a near-seamless urgency. The only interruption comes from a slight kick in the gearchange at approximately 62 mph (100 km/h), depending on how deep you push your right foot down and/or the driving mode selected via the physical button on the dashboard. The more progressive deployment of power provides a more relaxed and comfortable driving. The optional air suspension adds to this wonderful experience, while also offering you the option to go for a sportier ride.
One pedal driving is not a thing inside the e-tron GT, which is a pity if you like using it. You still have to use the brake pedal to slow down, as you can’t just release the accelerator pedal. Via the two steering wheel mounted paddles you can however alter the two-level brake regeneration, but the impact of this is hardly worth noting. I wouldn’t miss the paddles nor the feature if they weren’t there. The four-wheel steering connected to huge 21-inch wheels offer the usual smaller turning circle at slower speeds and more stability at higher speeds on the Autobahn, where we reached an easy 247 km/h (153 mph). The e-tron GT got to that speed effortlessly and held it for miles and miles.
The impressive GT proved to be a wonderful companion during the ten days it was used. The five-meter long EV impressed the most due to its performance and ability to behave like a “normal car”, not an EV showing its flaws. The handling didn’t show a sign of body roll, and the steering felt definitely Audi-like, which in my opinion means a touch less feel but an increased grand tourer flavor . Overall, the EV almost felt like an internal combination vehicle, even though it was powered by two electric motors, which brings me to the next subject of range and charging. Since the 800V technology is present in the GT, you should be able to reach 350kW of charging speed. This presented me with the challenge to charge the GT within VAG’s own Ionity charging network offering these kind of speeds. The outcome of the test told a different story than I expected.
THE CHARGING MINDSET
First of all, let me be clear that the charging infrastructure per country differs widely. In Germany, where I tested the car there are numerous service suppliers, of which I tested three. The two most important ones were Ionity and EnbW. The 350kW Ionity charger was situated in front of Audi’s factory in Neckarsulm, where the car is built. The 300kW EnbW charger was placed near my own home location. Surprisingly both showed the same experience, which never allowed me to reach the communicated 350kW. The maximum charging speed I got was only 246kW for a short amount of time.
Further investigation showed the charging pattern of the e-tron GT. The lower you get the car’s battery, the better it is for ultra-quick charging. I know that is not news, but it is interesting to see it in real life. Up to 30 percent, you will be able to get its top charging speed of around 250kW. After that, it lowers to around 200kW. From around 40 percent to around 50 percent, you will charge with 150kW. Close to 50 percent of battery charge, you will have around 100kW until 90 percent, after which it will go down rapidly. At 90 percent it dives to 78kW and then to 50kW until 98 percent. Interestingly, the time to charge the car from 32-90 percent cost me 28 minutes and 90-100 percent about the same time.
It once again shows that charging between 10-90 percent is the only suitable way when you are on the move. If you have home charging, you can leave the car connected to reach 100 percent overnight, which seems to be the best way to charge. Another point to note is that it is much better to drive the battery “empty”, thus challenge your range anxiety, than topping it up at higher percentages of battery charge. In the end, the lower it gets, the faster it charges and will give you more juice in less time.
THE COST OF A CHARGE
Looking at the cost of a charge, I made a calculation based on local German pricing using the EnbW infrastructure. The 300kW charger charged the e-tron GT in 32 minutes from 32-90 percent, which gave me 220 km of range and 55kWh battery charge. The DC fast charging costs 0.79 per kWh, since I used the high speed charging capability via the Ionity service. EnbW charged me around 44 EUR for this. This means that 5 km of range costs 1 EUR, which isn’t cheap at all.
An equivalent diesel vehicle will do 800 km-plus on a single tank and a fill up will cost you roughly between 80-100 EUR depending on current fuel prices making the EV look rather expensive. An equivalent petrol powered car would of course be similarly priced or maybe even slightly cheaper when it comes to its consumption. Especially since you don’t have to wait so long for it to fill up and you don’t to have fill up so often. It also doesn’t have a 10-90 percent optimum operational range in its “petrol tank”.
The solution is of course cheaper charging prices. For instance, normal DC charging at speeds way under 100kW will only set you back 0.39 or 0.49 EUR per kWh depending on your service contract here in Germany. Home charging is even cheaper, making the total proposition a lot better. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to charge your e-tron GT up from 32-90 percent in just 28 minutes. This all requires a different mindset, since the fill-up price is so directly related to the speed of charging. This is a key ingredient to the current EV world, which is totally alien to owners of an internal combustion car.
To conclude my story, the Audi e-tron GT isn’t flawless, but it is the best effort in the market today of creating an EV that works and feels like a “normal” car. The GT feels like an Audi and breaths the company’s unique characteristic flavor, but resembles in many ways the Taycan due to the use of its co-developed platform. The softer and more relaxed nature mixed with its beautifully design makes the EV a must-have for many, something we need in a world where EVs are still not an easy sell. If the Audi e-tron GT is what we can expect of an EV future, than we are in for a good one.
[Photos: Vincent Toth]