This is undoubtedly THE novelty of the brand with the rings in this first half of 2021. Audi is moving up a gear in its electrification strategy and unveils the production version of the famous e-tron GT Concept unveiled there is almost 3 years old at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Not content with becoming the first 100% electric sedan in the range, the e-tron GT also becomes (in its RS version once the overboost is activated) the most powerful Audi in the range ahead of the R8 V10 Performance whose fabulous sound of the atmospheric V10 still haunts my nights (test to reread here). Head to the Luberon region to defy the laws of physics aboard the new flagship of Ingolstadt.
A year after the launch of the Porsche Taycan, Audi lifts the veil on its interpretation of the VW group's super-sporty electric sedan by offering (initially?) Two distinct versions: the e-tron GT quattro and the RS e-tron GT all available in two trim levels, Base & Extended. While the two cars share a rigorously identical body and the same battery capacity (93.4 kWh), the RS, which is almost € 40,000 more expensive to purchase, has some additional standard equipment, in addition to its increased performance. We thus note tungsten-treated brake discs of 410 mm, a Torque Vectoring system, 20-inch rims, the Bang & Olufsen audio system, leather / Alcantara RS seats and a black exterior aesthetic pack (essential for my taste) .
- e-tron GT quattro: 476 hp (530 with overboost activated), € 101,500 (Base) / € 122,000 (Extended)
- RS e-tron GT: 598 hp (646 with overboost activated), 140,700 € (Base) / 156,200 € (Extended)
True to the concept
A bit like the BMW i8 derived from the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car or the Lexus LC500 derived from the LF-LC concept car, the Audi e-tron GT in its final quattro & RS versions is very close lines of the eponymous concept car unveiled in Los Angeles 3 years earlier. The resemblance to the prototype is such that it was absolutely necessary to mention it in the preamble of this test, before even describing the overall design of the car to you.
One thing is certain, the design of this car spills at least as much ink on the canvas as it does not impress the onlooker who is not necessarily psychologically ready to see a real UFO land before his eyes. All eyes are on this e-tron GT, whoever they are, since we even had the opportunity to pay the price with the constabulary, very pleasant. Even if subscribers are absent from the need for an open grille to cool the engine, Audi wanted to mark its visual identity and thus found at the front a “fake” hexagonal grille with the four rings proudly enthroned above it. Surprisingly, there is a triple front hearing point (even a dummy) when one of the two versions of the e-tron GT sports the “quattro” designation. In my opinion, the historical stylistic reminder would have been more legitimate than ever on this car. The optics take a typical Audi pencil stroke but an original LED signature and the gills placed just in front of the wheels are not fake at all since they participate in the cooling of the large 380 mm brake discs in series on the 'e-tron GT quattro (410 mm on the RS, or even 420 mm if you opt for carbon-ceramic discs as an option).
At the rear, the wide light strip is debatable but reminiscent of the superb A7 Sportback, the night time unlocking animation will delight tech-savvy as well as impress your friends. The wide stall between the beltline and the rear fenders impresses anyone who will have the pleasure of following this elegant (that remains to be discussed) GT sedan. The rear window blends into the trunk to make room for a large retractable spoiler, while the massive diffuser shows no exhaust cannulas, and it's more disturbing than it looks.
100% Audi environment
If you still doubted it, the e-tron GT is not just a simple redesigned Porsche Taycan (and again, it gets worse when the parentage goes in this direction) but a 100% Audi, at least in the he use of the stylistic codes dear to the brand and in the care given to the interior so that customers who are keen on Ingolstadt productions feel right at home. Steering wheel, door handles, Virtual Cockpit, air conditioning controls, door trims, everything is 100% Audi. Only the seats are identical to those of the Taycan (upholstery may differ). And even if in our two test models, the interior design is sober, a very wide choice of colors and materials is left to the customer. Arras Red, Monaco Gray or Santos Brown leather, decorative inserts in varnished plastic, walnut wood or even matt carbon, everything is done so that you can compose your e-tron GT à la carte not only in the choice of options but also in the choice of color combinations.
The e-tron GT obviously has all the ADAS necessary to ensure level 2 semi-autonomous driving (optional) and pushes the plug even further by offering the possibility for each owner to maneuver his car from his smartphone, to get out of perilous maneuvers or be able to extract your vehicle from a cramped parking space that does not allow the driver's door to be opened. Gadget or not, I leave you alone to judge.
Driving pleasure, the one we did not expect
The title of this paragraph undoubtedly spoils the surprise of the conclusion. Getting behind the wheel of an electric car, for a pure driving enthusiast like me (without claiming to have any ability above average to the exercise of driving), this is not necessarily the moment that one expects the most in a career as a tester. To be honest, the e-tron GT quattro and the RS a few hours later are the two best-performing electric cars I've ever driven so far. And I can tell you that the Audi France teams took particular care of the course to test the lower road quality (dynamic as well as motorway) of this GT sedan, the flagship of electrification from the brand with the rings. The grip is instantaneous despite the size of the car (5 meters long and 1.96 meters wide) especially thanks to the reunion of a perfectly familiar environment, that of an Audi. Fashion Comfort engaged via the Drive Select arranged as usual to the left of the row of buttons positioned just in front of the gear selector. What immediately strikes you after just a few kilometers is the cushioning comfort despite driving on the cobblestones of the city of Avignon and the 20-inch rims of our e-tron GT quattro (the gray one in the picture). The pilot-controlled air suspension does wonders, and not just in the city as we will see a little later. The riding position is adjustable to your liking and allows me to position myself extremely low despite the batteries in the floor, something rare to mention. In short, I'm like a fish in water and can't wait to see what this e-tron GT quattro is capable of.
We attack the winding. The technical sheet leaves one dreaming, a cavalry of 476 hp available at any time and an overboost adding a few canassons to reach a round count of 530. The 0 to 100 km / h dispatched in 4.1 seconds already pushes the limits of understanding especially at startup. The combination of electric + 4-wheel drive wreaks havoc with every start-up and every restart. No latency while waiting for power and a violent kick-down with each frank pressure on the right pedal to remind you in the lower back that the automatic gearbox of the e-tron GT has just like on the Taycan of two reports. The first corners are a revelation, it almost pains me to say it. The steering feel is just amazing. The speed-dependent active steering assistance makes every movement of my wrists natural, a real invitation to drive clean. We feel the front end respond instantly to the finger and the eye to each tilt of the steering wheel even only a few degrees, we are very far from the first electric power steering to feel disconnected from the road. As the turns tighten, the e-tron GT surprises me mile after mile, flouting the laws of physics by stopping its 2.3 tons empty without straining the brakes, winding with envy and rhythm every turn. thanks to its 4-wheel steering (optional). The body roll disappears completely and if the low driving position pleases me, it lacks a bit of support to the shoulders to feel perfectly at my ease. This e-tron GT quattro surprises me so much that anguish comes as I get closer to getting started with the RS version …
Pushing back the laws of physics
If one had to sum up the experience behind the wheel of the RS e-tron GT, it would be to say loud and clear that it does what the e-tron GT quattro can do, only better. I myself had a hard time writing it because the exercise seems insurmountable and seems to take us to other skies but it is nevertheless true. The technical characteristics and performance displayed play on paper as in reality in clear favor for the RS. 598 hp (646 with overboost), 0 to 100 km / h in 3.3 seconds (i.e. tenth for tenth the same time as the Audi R8 V10 Performance) and stratospheric pickups take you beyond comprehension and possibilities to use this ultimate version on open road. As much as the e-tron GT quattro takes you into pre-trial detention without going through custody, the RS e-tron GT immediately sentences you to a life sentence as the possible excesses on board are unimaginable, and I weigh my words. The real problem which is also the greatest quality of the RS (and even the quattro for that matter) is its brand, Audi. Why ? The explanation is quite simple. The brand has always had the credo of making no compromise on performance for Audi Sport versions while making the product accessible. And it's this accessibility to such a level of performance that makes the RS dangerous. The rear differential lock associated with the 4-wheel steering allows you to come out even stronger from any turn, the 410 mm brake discs allow you to push back any braking at the latest without flinching even after several hard brakes , pushing the right pedal shouldn't even be allowed anymore as the raises are beyond anything you know before. In short, RS becomes a weapon by destination if you don't have a strong and balanced mind enough to limit your ardor. The adage "do not put in all hands" has so far never been so defined. The worst part of it all? The Porsche Taycan in its Turbo S version does it all, even harder.
e-tron as efficient?
The tests ended with the dreaded highway exercise. Everyone knows that these are among the least favorable conditions for an electric car to keep fuel consumption low. Audi announces a range according to the WLTP standard of 488 km for the e-tron GT quattro and 472 km for the RS e-tron GT. A very small difference which can be explained by an identical battery capacity, a rigorously similar weight and a request of the electric motors at widely comparable equivalent speed. Audi announces a normalized combined consumption of around 19.0 to 21 kWh / 100 kms. The minimum 2.3 tonnes weighing on the scale should be partially offset by an exceptional Cx of 0.24 on its journey. An average of 22 kWh was thus observed over a 40 km motorway journey at a speed of 130 km / h with the regulator engaged. Our average consumption in these tests was 28 kWh on the e-tron GT quattro and exceeded 30 on the RS. Figures not very meaningful for the last two in any case, our solicitations of electric motors to highlight the dynamic qualities of the two models undoubtedly exceeding the standard of use of future customers.
One thing is certain, Audi has reached a monumental milestone by offering a 100% electric GT sedan in the catalog as the most powerful model in the entire current range. The prices charged will undoubtedly be around € 140,000 for any e-tron GT that has passed (whether it is quattro or RS), so you will probably not see many on our roads, the latter finding direct competition on their way. at Porsche with no less than 4 versions currently available for the Taycan whose crest will surely flatter the ego of potential buyers. Yet the e-tron GT offers a copy of its own, far, far from being a discounted version of Zuffenhausen's interpretation and above all displaying its own identity, faithful to Audi's assumptions. So, for € 180,000 (that was the price of our RS), are you more RS6 / RS7 or RS e-tron GT? If the question may seem ridiculous to you, something tells me that we will offer you some answers very soon in an upcoming topic … Stay tuned!
Thank you to Audi France for the masterful organization in a difficult context and in strict compliance with the health regulations in force.
Photo / Video Credits: Maurice Cernay
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