Audi's all-electric touring sedan looks like it'll match the hype.
The upcoming Audi e-tron GT promises to be a bold four-door all-electric touring sedan with a strong developmental link to the high-performance Porsche Taycan. Both electric sedans were developed alongside each other and share the same 800-volt architecture that allows consistent performance alongside faster charging ability. We've seen plenty of the e-tron GT concept, but the official production version has only been spied wearing camouflage. Going by the spy shots, we don't expect significant changes from the concept other than the addition of traditional door handles and larger mirrors. We also expect the e-tron GT to differentiate itself from it's Porsche relative with a bias towards technology inside and outside the cabin. Those are expectations, though. This is what we know so far:
Audi is capping its power from the dual-motor setup to 590 hp, a shade under the Taycan's base model, and over 100 hp less than the Taycan's top trim. That doesn't mean the e-tron GT won't get more faster versions later on, but its unlikely the e-tron GT will ever be outright faster than the Taycan. Only two electric motors are being used, but Audi does love its Quattro all-wheel-drive systems so the GT will be able to control power to individual wheels for improved traction and handling. Audi claims the e-tron GT will clip 60 mph in an estimated 3.5 seconds and hit 124 mph in just over 12 seconds.
Storing the electricity for the drivetrain should be the same 90-kWh capacity battery the Taycan uses, and the 800-volt system will allow charging at 350 kW. Because the e-tron GT is a performance car, Audi is using cutting edge cooling technology to keep the battery temperature down when the driver wants to push the limits. When it comes time to charge the car, owners can plug the e-tron into a charger like any other EV, but Audi Wireless Charging will be available for contactless battery top-ups. Audi is hazy on wireless charging times, but using a cord and charging at 350 kW, 80 percent of the battery should be ready to go in about 20 minutes.
Charging the battery is one thing, but not having to recharge the battery as often is something to aim for, and regenerative braking is obligatory in an EV at this point. Audi hasn't been keen to push the one-pedal driving system in the e-tron SUV where the motors slow down the vehicle for regeneration, requiring less, if any, manual braking for the driver. The e-tron SUV's default mode is to assume the driver will be using the brake pedal and regenerates power from that. However, it does have manual settings to increase automatic slowdown with two different levels. We expect the same system in the e-tron GT but hope that it will have a more aggressive setting through the paddle controls that allow for pure one-pedal driving.
According to Audi, the e-tron GT will have a range of over 248.5 miles. What that might be in the real world we won't know until the EPA delivers its estimate, and we get hold of one tuse. If the 248 miles turns out to be accurate, that's plenty for the average driver and, if they have access to the optimal charging ports, plugging in for 20 minutes or so twice a week shouldn't be a big deal at all. Audi specifically mentions the expanding Electrify America network, and the company installed its first 350KW charger before there was a car available on the market that could actually use it and is expanding its network fast.
Audi has been doing a great job of pushing infotainment forward with its MMI touch response system and digital dashboard. We expect the e-tron GT to leverage that and have a touchscreen-heavy infotainment system. The concept shows a single screen in the center of the dashboard. However, the e-tron SUV and Audi's flagship A8 sedan feature a dual-screen setup featuring a 10.1-inch display on top and an 8.8-inch unit below, and that's something we wouldn't be surprised to see along with the digital gauge cluster. As the e-tron GT is a flagship for Audi's EV range, we also expect Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging, and wireless connectivity to be baked in along with a full suite of driver assistance tech.
Ecological and animal-friendly interiors aren't new, but they're far from common. Sustainability is the real keyword here, and Audi is using fabrics and materials made from recycled fibers wherever possible. In fact, we know that the luxurious deep-pile floor carpet in the concept is made with Econyl yarn, which is a recycled fiber made from used fishing nets. Don't expect it to look like a hippy's front room, though, as the next keyword is luxury. Synthetic leather is prevalent in cars already, so any synthetic leather applied to the seats and trim will be top-quality stuff.
Along with excellent materials to look at and feel, expect adjustable ambient interior lighting, four-zone climate control, a head-up display, heated and cooled front seats with massage functions. Don't expect room for three in the back, though, as the e-tron GT is a 2+2 tourer.
If you want to see the Audi e-tron concept in motion and haven't seen Avengers Endgame, it's the car Tony Stark pulls up in at the Avengers headquarters at the end of the first act. What might throw you is the sound that the foley department added to the car of a non-existent engine. The sound was actually developed with Audi, and, when we reached out to the brand, we were told: "On the basis of this request from the filmmakers, Audi experts developed a digitally-generated sound for the car. This sound was then further developed together with the sound experts from the filmmakers in order to fit perfectly into the scene."
Audi also stated categorically that: "The sound that Audi developed for the e-tron GT concept in the new Avengers movie is not the actual sound of the e-tron GT series production version."
The e-tron GT is to be built at the Bollinger Hofe factory in Neckarsulm, Germany, which is the same assembly plant that builds the Audi R8. The German automaker has been testing the production process and significantly expanding the facility and upgrading equipment at the same time. Audi is moving the R8's body shop off-site to Heilbronn, and the e-tron GT is getting its own 40,000 square-foot body shop on an overhead mezzanine. Audi is testing the build processes using virtual-reality headsets and controllers, and developed the software entirely in-house.
We know that the Audi e-tron GT will go into production in 2020, and be on sale for the 2021 model year. The official unveiling of the production version is expected towards the end of this year, most likely planned for the 2020 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. That would be assuming that the Coronovirus threat has died down enough; otherwise, it could be another live streaming event across the internet. However things play out, it's expected to reach dealer showrooms in early 2021.