Blindingly fast, beautifully proportioned and meticulously finished, Audi’s flagship all-electric grand tourers arrive in Australia.
3 February, 2023
They’re here – the Audi e-tron GT quattro (from $180,200*) and the RS e-tron GT (from $248,200*). Two cars that represent the pinnacle of Audi’s all-electric portfolio as well as pointing the way forward not only in terms of drive and performance, but also in their design and finish. These two high-performance grand tourers arrive in Australia heralding in a new era for the brand Down Under and if the styling isn’t enough to win you over, then a stint behind the wheel most certainly will.
Australian customers with existing orders began receiving their cars late last year and the eagerly awaited electric halo models are now available from Audi dealers.
Although the smooth, sweeping styling is now familiar after extensive international press reporting, it’s quite another thing to finally see the cars in the metal and actually out on the road in the ‘real world’.
Where the right lighting and photography can make many a car – or person – look better than they actually are, the e-tron GT and its RS sibling more than live up to expectation in reality. This is classic design with a sharp, contemporary flair that Audi’s Head of Design, Marc Lichte, has famously said is the most beautiful car he has ever penned. No small claim from a designer of his calibre and with his resume`, and while beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, it’s easy to agree with his assessment.
This is a car that is at once sleek and sophisticated, but with an obvious performance leaning. Yes it’s a four door, but the style is undeniably coupe in nature – a true grand tourer as opposed to straight out supercar in appearance.
The performance figures for both models though are well and truly in the supercar range and the all-electric drive delivers absolutely thrilling performance. But more on that in a moment.
From the show car that Audi presented to the world back in 2018 at the Los Angeles Auto Salon, to the series production model that made its international debut two years later, the design amazingly remained unchanged. It is something that Audi has never done before, taking a concept design to production ‘one-to-one’.
But such was the balance and the proportions of the e-tron GT concept that the feeling was it had hit the mark perfectly. Even the Audi TT concept which celebrates 25 years this year, underwent some changes from the concept that was so well received at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show.
“This really is a car that is highly aesthetic, super emotional and still combines functionality,” Lichte has said of the e-tron GT. “For me, in all honesty, it’s really the highlight of my career.”
To get a sense of the e-tron GT’s dimensions, it is slightly shorter than an RS 7 Sportback, and sits lower and wider giving it a real presence, but in true Audi style, neither model screams ‘look at me’.
They catch the eye certainly, and elements like the LED rear lights that stretch the width of the car set it apart out on the road, but the key here is subtlety and elegance. This is partly achieved through the perfect proportions and very clean design, with every element on the smooth body there to serve a purpose. From the air intakes flanking the the electric interpretation of the Single frame grille and those behind the front wheel arches, to the standard Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light or the pronounced accents over the quattro blisters. The result is a timeless design that looks supremely elegant – and fast.
Inside too the overall feeling is clean and sophisticated – classic Audi. As you would expect it is brimming with the very latest in technology and connectivity which is beautifully integrated into the cabin and designed to be functional and to enhance the overall experience.
There is no attempt to go ‘futuristic’ with the design or execution of the cabins just for the sake of it. Yes these vehicles are the pinnacle of what the brand can do and the equipment and appointment reflect that – but the layout and appointment are both beautifully executed and reassuringly Audi.
The layout clear and open and the back seats benefit from genuine leg room thanks to the flat floor enabled by the battery placement and absence of a transition tunnel. The details are beautifully crafted and there is a choice of high-end materials including the option of a Dinamica interior package which uses recycled materials in place of traditional finishes to tremendous effect.
From the familiar virtual cockpit and large touch screen, to the 3D Bang & Olufsen sound system that achieves new levels of clarity in the whisper quiet cabin, the interiors are the embodiment of taste and refinement. Luxurious and supremely comfortable as you glide through the city snarl with everything at your fingertips and wonderfully supportive and driver focused when you have the chance to throw the car into bends at speed. And that’s what it’s all about with this car. Yes there are paddles that allow you to actively recoup energy on braking, but both of these models are built to be driven like the performance cars that they are.
Both cars feature dual electric motors, with one on the front axle and the other on the rear.
Power is provided by a 93kWh battery that will give up to 540km of driving in the GT and 504km for the RS model, but like any internal combustion model, that range is subject to the way you drive and how judicious you are with the ‘loud’ pedal – and playing with the seamless acceleration is very addictive in both of these cars.
Recharging at the maximum 270kW Direct Current (DC) capacity will see you add 100km of range in roughly five minutes, while charging from up to 80 percent will take just over 22 minutes. The 11kW AC home-charging solution can fully recharge the e-tron GT twins overnight and Audi Australia will offer the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT with a complimentary standard installation for charging at home through its partner JETCharge.
Power output is impressive to say the least.
The e-tron GT boasts 350kW of power or 390kW on boost and 630Nm of torque for a 0 to 100km/h figure of 4.1 seconds. Slip into the RS model with its 440kW (475kW on boost) and 830Nm and things happen even faster. It takes just 3.3 seconds to see off the 0 to 100km/h sprint and from there, the numbers on the virtual speedo head north with lightening speed. The brand’s first all-electric RS model, the RS e-tron GT is also the most powerful RS model ever made when it’s on boost – an extraordinary badge in its own right when you consider the other members of the RS family.
Of course when you start talking talking about acceleration and power output at this end of the scale it all becomes academic with a couple of horsepower here and there, but the RS e-tron GT has its own feel when it comes to power delivery. As impressive as the acceleration off the line is, it’s the immediacy of the rolling acceleration that is hard to comprehend and impossible to put into words.
Touch the accelerator and you are pushed back into the form-hugging sports seats and the car just races ahead. Perhaps it’s the absence of the engine note building to a crescendo or the increased awareness at speed of wind rushing over the car’s surface, but you literally surge forward.
No lag, no build up, just instant acceleration at any speed.
The ride is silky smooth around town and out on the highway thanks to the three-chamber adaptive air suspension, which changes characteristics when you get out onto winding roads where the grip is unbelievable. There is nary a hint of body roll thanks to the very low centre of gravity and the weight distribution placed low in the car.
Big 20-inch rims are standard equipment on the GT quattro while the RS model rides on larger 21-inch rims and also gets all-wheel steering as standard equipment. Power goes down to all four wheels through the latest electric quattro and the RS model also features a sport differential with torque vectoring.
The brakes on both cars are huge and more than up to the task, although up to 0.3 g the braking is carried out by the electric motors as regeneration – not that you’d know regardless of the speeds, so seamless is the system. Once you do get past that 0.3 g threshold though, the brakes are superb, the GT getting steel units while the RS features tungsten carbide brake discs, clamped with distinctive red calipers. There are also carbon ceramic brakes available for the RS as an option for those really wanting to push the limits.
Finding those limits though will require a race track, such is the extraordinary acceleration, grip and handling of these cars. That it is delivered in a luxurious four-door package producing zero emissions is a game-changer for high-performance vehicles. It might be the styling that catches your eye, but spend any time behind the wheel and you’ll be hooked.
(*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)
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