The new Audi E-Tron GT is proof the electric luxury sedan floodgates are creaking. They’re not quite ready to burst just yet; we’re still wading calf-deep through a growing pool of early adopters like the BMW i4, Mercedes-Benz EQS, and Polestar 2, all rippling and lapping above a lakebed formed by the Tesla Model S and 3. Once the usual luxury marques finalize their elaborate and extensive electrification plans, we expect that pond to quickly fill to Lake Superior levels over the next five years with zappy next-gen electric versions of four-doors already on sale today.
For now, dramatically styled nü-tech e-rods like Audi’s E-Tron GT family are the establishment’s photon blast across the bow of Tesla’s starship. Regardless of trim and spice level of battery/motor combination, the E-Tron GT is more aesthetically in line with the RS5 and RS7 sportback sedans than it is the A4 or A6; a presentation that’s one part Audi and one-part Porsche, considering the Audi’s Taycan source material appears very much like a soft attempt at a four-door 911.
Two Cars, Two Colors
We think the GT sibs look great, though our dark blue RS E-Tron GT made the accompanying GT Premium in standard white with painted silver wheels appear straight off the Enterprise rental lot. Still, we’d all be so lucky to have a rental as dramatic as even the “standard” GT Premium, especially as its hyperspace proportions suggest someone draped a padded moving blanket over the Porsche and Sharpied four-ring logos on the requisite fascias.
This drama does not bleed into the cabin, as Audi massaged the primordial Porsche clay into a flawless translation of its standard ultra-modern, straight-edge interior design we enjoy on just about every branch of the brushed aluminum family tree. No risks were taken, but when your baseline design looks this sharp and mature, you don’t need stylistic gimmicks to impress. So, if you like what Ingolstadt was putting down before, everything is right where you left it in the GT.
Time for the battery breakdown. In terms of comparison, Audi’s made this conceptually straightforward; on a chart, you can draw a line from the Taycan 4S to the GT Premium, and from the Taycan Turbo to Audi’s range-topping RS E-Tron GT. This translates to a standard 93.4-kW battery with 83.7 kW of accessible capacity, shooting high-voltage stuff to a standard dual-motor setup—one in the front, one in the back—augmented by the Taycan’s trick two-speed transmission.
Our aforementioned white GT Premium squeezed our eyes and yanked our lower backs with a combined 496 horsepower and 464 lb-ft that briefly foams over to 522 hp and 472 lb-ft with an “overboost” function that overclocks the drivetrain for 2.5 seconds. This is, of course, far from enough power for most commuters, so the RS GT thrums like a powerline transformer with 590 horsepower and 612 lb-ft, boiling to 637 hp with overboost.
It’s about as powerful as it is portly, with these batteried brusiers busting our scales at 5,095 pounds for the GT Prestige and 5,151 pounds for the RS. No matter—this density is par for the EV course at this point in the timeline, and our tested performance figures of the GT duo outstrip many gas-guzzling sports cars that pack a ton or so less weight.
Ballistic Battery Bullies
With brimmed batteries and a leaden right foot, our test team hucked the GT Premium to a 3.6-second 0-60 mph run on its way toward an 11.9-second quarter-mile, down from Audi’s official 3.9-second claim. Lined up next to its 562-hp Taycan 4S bro, the Porsche just edges ahead with a tested 3.4-second scramble and an 11.6-second quarter mile.
The RS was particularly violent. It took all of 2.9 seconds to get from 0-60 mph, hurtling down the quarter-mile strip a full second quicker than the GT Premium, at 10.9 seconds. Of course, Audi doffs its quilted-leather cap to the will of Stuttgart, with the Taycan Turbo S retaining Volkswagen Auto Group’s EV crown at a tested 2.4-second 0-60 mph teleportation and a quarter-mile assault in 10.3 seconds.
Impressive on paper, ballistic in application. Perpetually enumerating how neck-straining the acceleration of performance EVs is will quickly cross into cliché as everything electrifies, but dammit, these things squeeze breath from lungs like a laundry mangle. That initial slap of lateral pressure hits with the instantaneity of a cattlegun bolt, your senses realigning only after the number on the digital speedo reads just south of 100 mph.
Quick, But Quick Enough?
That’s for the RS, but you can scale that babble back just 30 percent for our white GT Prestige. In fact, the non-RS GT won over the most hearts of the pair among our staff, as the RS’ appetite for an extra $50,000 appeared to dissipate this lump sum like lightning plasma. “If you want it for bragging rights, have I got some Tesla Plaid-sized news for you,” quipped buyer’s guide director Zach Gale. “The E-Tron GT clearly excels more as a standard model than an RS.”
This was a common refrain during testing. Neither car performed like its svelte Stuttgart sister on the handling course, with a frustrating lack of cohesion between both ends, and a front end that breaks into understeer on a whim. Props to both Taycan and E-Tron GT engineers—despite a conspicuous lack of oil under the shapely front hoods, both cars feel very much on brand for each marque.
Whereas the Porsche feels like a leaned-out Panamera with a workout addiction, the E-Tron GT is a pusher—just like all the best big, fast Audis to date. “Kind of amazing how they’ve managed to capture that classic Audi understeer,” noted features editor Christian Seabaugh. “I wonder why Audi felt the need to engineer that in.”
Again, this wasn’t limited to the ostensibly softer GT Premium. “I’m having a hard time finding a good reason to reach for the RS version, when this GT [Premium] is just as fun, if only a little less capable,” noted road test editor Chris Walton. “I just wish they could do something with torque vectoring to compensate for the understeer on the skidpad.”
Too Much Audi, Not Enough Taycan
Aside from the soft front-end, this was still a capable car to wheel around the handling course, with solid damping and above-average body control. A quick car, but an emotionless one; drivers noted numb, lifeless steering; tricky regenerative brakes; and strange suspension settings. Between Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic, there seemed to be no Goldilocks setting, with Comfort and Auto giving up too much bob and weave, and Dynamic too flinty for workaday surface street use outside of a mountain road.
It’s a neat car, if a bit puzzling. The cheapest Audi E-Tron GT can’t be had for less than $103,445, a few thousand short of the more powerful, quicker, sharper, and better-badged Porsche Taycan 4S at $105,150. You can’t even spend more money to outscoot the competition; the Taycan Turbo is roughly $10,000 more than the RS, while the outrageous 1,020-hp tri-motor Model S Plaid undercuts the hottest E-Tron GT at $131,100.
Breaking down the on-track figures doesn’t help its case, either. The GT Premium cuts a good-ish path through our figure-eight cone course in 24.5 seconds at a 0.79 g average, dropping to 24.1 seconds at 0.85 g average for the hotter RS. On the skidpad, the GT Premium held on at 0.92 g while the RS saw a max of 0.95. The Taycan 4S dances around its softer cousins with a 1.03 g skidpad max and a 23.6-second figure-eight time at a 0.84 g average. The Model S Plaid continues to shock, with a best figure-eight time of 23.5 seconds at 0.90 g, and a skidpad high of 1.05 g.
So we ask: Who is the Audi E-Tron GT for? The smart money says wait for a more affordable rear-drive model, but apparently the automaker isn’t interested in ditching a motor, so you can save up to $20,000 by settling for the single-motor base Taycan. As far as we can see, you’d have to be a dyed-in-the-Alcantara Audi loyalist to strut past the competition for the 2022 Audi E-Tron GT—and we reckon that’s exactly what Audi’s banking on.
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