REVIEW: 2021 Audi E-tron GT -- A Better Choice Than the Porsche

REVIEW: 2021 Audi E-tron GT — A Better Choice Than the Porsche Taycan?

Two black veils have been pulled down and we are told that it is a “game changer”. The latest Audi electric cars make their way ahead. The Audi e-tron GT is the fastest car and, in RS guise, it’s the most powerful they have ever produced. The atmosphere in the car is still quiet. It’s too quiet to be the kind of cars that make your heart beat faster every time you touch the gas pedal.

That’s the exact point. There is no gasoline. We do however have an Audi model which is intended to transform our perception of the brand. It is their most innovative and exciting electric model. One that will actually be a positive influence. But, can it?

Traditional GT with an Electric Drivetrain

It’s been a long time coming but the Audi e-tron GT is finally here. Leaving the ‘game-changer’ tag line behind, what is it exactly? It’s the first attempt from the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer to try and make up for the fact that cars like the Audi R8 are going extinct. It’s meant to combine the characteristics of the mid-engine supercar with those of other RS models, like the RS7 into a quiet, clean and fast package.

By definition, this is a four-door coupe electric model that’s meant to offer both a fun experience behind the wheel as well as comfortable long hauls, just like a traditional GT would do, as the name hints. As for its history, there isn’t much to talk about here, especially since this is a car built, in the usual VAG way, by sharing a lot of its underpinnings with other models under their umbrella. In this case though, that’s a good thing for Audi, as the car it shares parts with and the platform underneath (J1) is the Porsche Taycan. And the world loves the Taycan.

The Head Turner

The Audi also has a very important plus on its side: The design. While I had the e-tron GT at my disposal for a few days, there wasn’t one person that didn’t say it was beautiful. Sure, some details could’ve been done in a less striking way, like the taillights that are a bit too big and dominate the rear end. But that’s not really an issue when you get to see them light up at night and do their little dance. They are a sight to behold.

Its overall dimensions remind you immediately of the Porsche Taycan. The car is just as wide and low-slung as the Porsche Taycan, while the large hips in the rear instantly recalls Porsches. They were in my rearview mirrors back when I test the Taycan, and I was thrilled to again see them there.

But compared to the Taycan, the e-tron GT has a fresh take on older cues. For example, the front fascia, even though it has the same Audi Singleframe design embedded into it, looks unique on the e-tron GT, without any mesh and with simpler lines, as cooling isn’t exactly a necessity on this car but good aerodynamics are. It’s also quite interesting that the front bumper, at least in the section located inside the Singleframe has a certain pattern on it, to remind us of the mesh used on regular Audis.

They are stunningly beautiful to behold, and feature a clean design with OLED DRLs at their top. Matrix Laser lights were also included in our tester, which simply illuminated the streets at night while making sure that nobody was blinded.

The sides are the elegant, long etron GT measuring almost 5m long. 21 inch optional RS wheels can be added to the wheel, with aerodynamic panels. This will allow you to squeeze every bit of battery life from the floor.

A little more spacious than the Taycan

While the sleek, low-slung roofline does look cool from the outside, once you step inside the cabin you start noticing the downsides. For starters, the Audi e-tron GT comes, as standard, with a panoramic sunroof and that’s made with a specially treated glass meant to keep things cool and quiet inside. This measure also offers a bit more headroom inside the car, that’s especially noticeable in the back, compared to the Taycan, for example.

Despite the fact that a ruler may disagree, the etron GT was a little more roomy in the back of its Porsche sibling than the Porsche 911. But not much. People who are over 6 feet tall, or have similar bodies, will find it difficult to get in there. You’ll have no problem if you are smaller than this. We would have loved a flush-floored floor, as this car is electric and has an all-wheel drive design.

Up front you get a slightly familiar design and a bit more room. Taller people would have a bit more room here, thanks to the lower mounting position of the front seats. Everything is built according to Audi’s fit and finish standards, and the materials are impeccable all-around, even though an interesting mix was applied here.

Audi decided to go green with this vehicle. The seats are made with eco leather along the edges, while the middle is covered in textile. Alcantara is used on the headliner, while the center armrest, dash and panel armrests can be covered with optional Nappa leather. The interior had one problem for me. There were too many piano-black trims around the dash and center console, as well as faux-carbon-fiber trims everywhere. It felt cheap, almost like the trims in the Honda Civic Type-R. The steering wheel felt a little disappointing and was very much like what you would find in an A6.

Driving Experience

But those are all details that won’t make or break the final buying decision. What will make or break this car is the way it drives.

The Porsche Taycan shares the platform, as we have already mentioned. It’s almost. The Audi e-tron GT guise comes equipped with two electric motors. One for the front axle, and one to the rear. This allows it to wear the ‘quattro badge on its boot, without any hassle.

Both the front and rear motors produce 238 horsepower, while each can deliver 435 horsepower. The car cannot deliver all its power to the wheels simultaneously so don’t add them up. The Audi e-tron GT can produce up to 476 horsepower combined, while it can deliver up to 530 horsepower in very short bursts. The total torque rating is at 640 Nm (482 lb-ft), and it doesn’t change.

The e-tron GT has the same two-speed rear axle gearbox as the Taycan. This is a clever trick that speeds things up at accelerating, and offers better efficiency on the highway.

An e-tron GT RS with 600 horsepower is also available, but that topic will be covered in a separate review. The battery, regardless of which model you choose, has the exact same usable capacity and estimated range of up 450km according to the WLTP test cycle. Is that enough?

It’s a great commuter too

Around town, the e-tron GT is almost easy to drive. I’m saying almost because, as you would expect, with such a low slung roofline and small windows, the driver’s visibility is significantly hindered. Parking is not an issue, as you get surround view cameras with perfect resolution, but driving around town is a bit nerve-racking. Furthermore, this is a very low riding car. It doesn’t come with adaptive air suspension as standard, but if you do have it, switching to ‘Efficiency’ driving mode lowers the ride height to make it a bit more streamlined. Luckily, the same system allows you to raise the car in case you need to get over bigger obstacles. And yes, it should be standard, considering the price tag.

The average energy consumed during my time driving the car at 19km/h was 26kWh/100 km. This gives you a range of 326 km on a single charge. It’s not bad. But the Porsche Taycan 4S managed to be a little more efficient despite using Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires rather than Goodyear F1.

You will also notice the quietness of the car and its V8 sound when it is driven slowly. The car’s sound is quite interesting, but it was probably inspired by the mill in the RS6.

You can also accelerate just like you’d imagine. The acceleration is also exactly as you would imagine. The acceleration is fast and intense, but it’s also how quickly you go past the 100km/h limit. You feel the second gear kick in at 80 to 90 km/h. This is a very old-fashioned feeling. This reminded of the harsh character of SMG gearboxes on cars such as the E60 M5.

With such speeds you’ll immediately leave the city and head out into the ‘wild’ and that’s where you can actually enjoy the car’s specs. Outside the confines of a big, crowded urban area, the e-tron GT can unwind and, if you take it to a couple of canyon roads, you can feel it work under the sheet metal.

Air suspension is a great way to keep the cars’ heavy weight under control. It does have its limitations. This is a car weighing in at 2,350 kilos. It’s not something to be ashamed of. The etron GT will turn hard when you push it into a corner. Even the 295-rear and 305-front tires will start squealing as they search for traction. The weight will push from under you towards the ravines to your right and left. Once you have reached illegal speeds, you can tone it down. The speed at which you can get into corners is what matters.

The standard brakes are excellent and they do an amazing job. I have never had to use them for any kind of fade or brake. The steering felt as dull as possible and I found myself often making small adjustments to the wheel in order to see what was happening.

It was the first Audi to not understeer, and it is easy to see why. The engine’s weight is not an issue, unlike other Audis (didn’t get the R8). The car’s nose was eager to go in. This car is capable of turning like a dream, even under heavy acceleration, thanks to the massive torque and power outputs from the rear axle.

But just how much fun can you have before the battery runs out? Well, just like it’s the case on a ‘regular’ car too, that depends on how much fun you’re having. The faster and harder you’re driving, the more ‘juice’ the e-Tron GT will sip. Outside the city limits, driving the car on b-roads, with an average speed of 70 km/h I saw an average energy consumption of 16 kWh/100 km, which adds up to a range of about 515 kilometers. Hop on the highway and keep it at 130 km/h and you’ll see that consumption go up to 22 kWh/100 km and the range drop to 370 kilometers.

Are you kidding me? It’s not. This car is meant to be loved first and made you forget all the math. The e-tron GT is able to recharge with up to 270 kW. This is more than any other electric vehicle can use from the internet these days. A charger that is this powerful can charge your car up to 80 percent within 20 minutes. That’s quite a IF. These chargers are rare, so most people will use 150 kW and 50 kW chargers. The charging time drops a little with these chargers.

What’s better than the Porsche Taycan or the Porsche Taycan?

At the end of the day though, the question on everyone’s mind is this: Is it better than the Taycan? The answer is no, but you don’t really care. The Taycan 4S, as surprising as it may sound, was a bit better planted somehow, felt a bit more precise overall. Even though the powertrain is the same, the suspension magic the engineers in Stuttgart did and the proprietary tech Porsche has, make it a bit better to drive.

It is very small, and it can be hard to tell the difference unless you compare them side-by-side and pay attention to what they have in common. The Porsche’s edge is better than the other cars, but they are both capable.

Is the Audi a worse car because of this? Not even close. This writer will take the etron GT to home, despite its superior looks inside and outside. It’s tiring to race back and forth from the shop, so I would save that extra cash for other activities.

Publiated at Tue 10 August 2021, 18:04:30 +0000

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