The Audi e-tron GT is an electrifying, stylish but expensive electric vehicle
When I last saw the Audi e-tron GT, it was mobbed by members of a gasping press at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show with Iron Man – er, actor Robert Downey Jr. – driving. The GT hasn’t lost its appeal.
With a long, lean Audi silhouette draped over the same bones that carry the Porsche Taycan EV, the e-tron is a four-door rocket.
It’s also a lot more fun with an internal charger.
Last year I rode a very fast Taycan EV around town, but I had a shy right foot given the 200-mile range limits. I had few electrons left after a trip to hell (Michigan) and back – then I had to deal with a long charge at a local (glitchy) Electrify America station.
A 240-volt Juicebox charger (moving $1,275 in my wallet including installation) now hangs on my garage wall next to a Tesla charger for my Model 3 Performance. The Tesla charger is proprietary and therefore unnecessary to the parade of electric vehicle testers that now comes to my door. Three years ago, I crawled to Ferndale in a Jaguar I-Pace to recharge my batteries (my wife trailed behind in her gas-powered Subaru if I couldn’t). Sigh.
Electric vehicles are still a niche market for deep-pocketed customers.
If you have the room for my $115,695 ($108,195 after federal tax credit!) e-tron tester, it’s a sensational Metro. ZAP! Hit the pedal on Interstate 696 and merge effortlessly into traffic. ZOT! Step on the pedal of a Woodward red light and leave the muscle cars behind. WHIRRRRR! Creep silently through the American Speed Festival parking lot during the M1 Concourse’s Checkered Flag charity event, and heads turn to follow the wheeled dummy figure of the GT.
Well, maybe not the face. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Audi’s masked face isn’t as engaging as the Porsche with its unique teardrop headlights. Without the four rings of the e-tron, the face could be mistaken for the love child of a Dodge Charger and an Audi A5.
The tapered roof and beautifully sculpted tail – anchored by Audi’s directional arrow taillamps – are what set this GT apart from the masses.
The interior will be familiar to Audi customers – just as the Taycan looks like the Porsche family – an indication of the brand’s determination to make the EV experience comfortable, not a leap into the unknown. The interior sits under a Tesla-like sunroof that adapts to the sunlight. A clever chiclet shifter negotiates the two-speed automatic transmission.
Otherwise, the instrument and infotainment screens are vintage Audis, with haptic touch controls and eye-popping Google Earth navigation screens.
The challenge for Audi buyers is how it compares to other vehicles in the showroom. There are a lot of sweets in this confectionery.
My friends Caroline and Jim recently downsized to an RS5 from an RS7 Sportback. Caroline chuckled as she pressed Woodard’s pedal, the e-tron exploding forward as if launching into space. The thrust is similar to the RS7 but without the audio accompaniment of a twin-turbo V-8.
The distant screech of the twin electric motors doesn’t do the jaw-dropping speed justice.
Jim admitted the instant torque makes the e-tron feel like the fastest Audi he’s driven. A family man, he is not interested in the $110,000 Audi R8. But even though its Audi RS5 Sportback tops the $68,000 A5 range, it’s a far cry from the $115,000 e-tron.
They’re the same size, but e-tron lacks the RS5’s more practical hatchback utility. Audi may have had to conform to the trunk design of the Taycan to produce two sedans from the same platform.
The e-tron, in other words, is a tease for A5 owners until/if EV prices drop by half (consider the $40,000 Chevy Bolt vs. the Chevy Trax of similar size – not even the proposed federal grant of $12,500 will get you there). Especially since, at 238 miles of range, it’s not an easy long-distance car.
Caroline and Jim travel frequently and do not want to spend long periods recharging in Meijer car parks. Like many electric owners, they would use the e-tron as their everyday means of transport. To catch baseball games or Iron Man movies. If that’s not entertaining enough, there’s 469 horsepower on tap. ZAP!
Pair the e-tron GT with a gas-powered Audi SQ5 (which can fill its 500-mile range in five minutes) and you’ve got the perfect two-car garage. Don’t forget to plug your GT into the Juicebox.
Audi e-tron GT 2021
Vehicle type: five-seat all-wheel-drive, battery-powered sedan
Price: $103,445 including $1,045 destination fee ($115,695 Premium Plus tested)
Powertrain: 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery with dual electric motor
Power: 496 horsepower (522 in Boost mode), 464 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Single-speed direct drive/front axle and two-speed/rear axle
Performance: 0 to 100 km/h, 3.9 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 152 mph
Weight: 5,060 pounds
Fuel Economy: EPA MPGe 82 city/98 highway; range, 238 miles
Treble: impressive acceleration; beautiful profile
Weak: challenge to charge beyond home charger; oh, that face
Overall: 3 stars
Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at [email protected] or Twitter @HenryEPayne.