Audi e-Tron GT first drive: move over Tesla Model S, this is better

The Audi e-Tron GT concept was revealed three long years ago. Finally, the production version of this highly anticipated EV has arrived. Almost identical to the car revealed at the 2018 LA Auto Show, it’s the second bespoke electric vehicle from Audi, following the e-Tron SUV. And this e-Tron ought to be good as the GT shares much of its DNA with the Porsche Taycan.
Like the Taycan, the e-Tron GT sits on the J1 platform, a bespoke electric framework jointly developed by Audi and Porsche. Designed from scratch for a high-performance electric car, it’s an antidote to the jacked-up crossovers, SUVs and mobility pods that currently dominate the EV market.


There are two versions of the e-Tron GT on sale: an entry-level quattro model kicks off at £79,900 and delivers 469bhp, and more powerful RS model starts at £110,950 and delivers 590bhp. Both cars have a boost mode, unlocking 523bhp in the quattro and 637bhp in the RS, though this only lasts for 2.5 seconds due to cooling limitations.

A motor on each axle gives the e-Tron GT quattro a power output identical to the Taycan 4S, and it gets from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds – just 0.8 seconds slower than the RS. Top speed is 152mph, and range is 303 miles (WLTP) in the e-Tron quattro.
On the surface, the Audi e-Tron is reassuringly familiar. It has the same ‘singleframe grille’ you’ll find on most of the range in 2021 – only here it’s blocked off due to the EV’s reduced need for cooling. There are also hints of the e-Tron SUV it follows; the GT’s front and rear light clusters feature the same intricate patterns as Audi’s first EV.


Inside, the Audi feels sophisticated – but less overtly innovative than some of the brand’s most recent cars. Rather than two sets of touchscreens, as you’d find in something like an A8, the e-Tron GT uses just one, and combines it with a competent UI and smattering of switchgear.
It’s close to the cabin we first saw on the concept car, buts its difference to the rest of the range reveals how removed the e-Tron GT project must’ve been from Audi’s combustion cars.

The rest of the cockpit is a blend of sustainable future and design cues of the present. There’s a familiar mixture of fabric, wood and leather – only the wood and leather bits are vegan-friendly imitations, and the seats are made from reclaimed fibres. However, everything looks and feels suitably premium – despite its eco-friendly nature.


Look behind the driver’s seat – which seems slightly higher in the Audi than the Porsche – and the passengers have ample leg room. Like the Taycan, the Audi carves out space for those at the back with mini footwells. Porsche and Audi engineers call them ‘foot garages’, which is laughable but they make a real difference to legroom.
But that’s where the similarities with the Porsche end. The power of the e-Tron quattro we drove is instant but progressive, swelling in the same way it does in a petrol or diesel car. It can still overtake with a surge of speed, but the Audi’s generally softer response is more intuitive and relaxed than the laser-guided Taycan.

This analogue ethos sets the tone for the rest of the car; the steering is light and comfortable – though still precise – and the ride is surprisingly docile. Around town, the Audi’s air-sprung suspension irons out smaller bumps, and even in the harder Dynamic mode the ride was firm but not aggressively so. Motorway performance was particularly good.
But this luxurious ride comes at a price; the Audi lacks the endless grip and poise of its electric twin. Get ambitious and you’ll feel the e-Tron GT’s chassis roll and complain while the all-wheel quattro system sniffs out grip. Unleash the power from a standstill and the bonnet will rise for a split second.
But, most of the time, the Audi masks its titanic kerb weight well enough. Even under heavy braking, the car’s regenerative system teams up with steel brakes and manages to get things stopped in good time.
On first impressions the e-Tron GT is that this is an intriguing machine. Despite sharing the same architecture as the Taycan, it’s a very different car. It prioritises comfort over pure speed, and executes this mission cleanly.
Rather than creating a lazier version of the Porsche, Audi has crafted an electric GT designed for crunching miles. With 800V fast-charging capability where available (62 miles in five minutes) and a competitive range (RS is a claimed 283 miles, the quattro 298), the e-Tron GT could be the best EV for road trips currently on sale.
But the entry-level quattro – not the RS – will worry Tesla and the rivals the most: priced at under £80,000, it undercuts the entry-level Model S, while offering comparable performance and serious comfort.
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