(Pocket-lint) - Audi's march into electric cars continues with aplomb. Having first attacked the SUV segment with the 2019 launch of the original Audi e-tron, the selection is expanding, with the GT slotting in at the top of the pile.
Broadly aligned with the Porsche Taycan - and unveiled at the same time at the LA Auto Show in 2018 - you now have a choice when it comes to luxury electric sports saloons. Looking to provide an alternative to the successful Tesla Model S, Audi takes a different approach with the GT - and it's a winning formula.
The look of the Audi e-tron GT might be familiar. It's been around for a couple of years, with the designer, Marc Lichte, having said that the concept for the e-tron GT was basically the final car - with the only real change being the door handles.
That says a lot about how futuristic this car is. That it also appeared driven by Tony Stark in Avengers Endgame only adds to the appeal.
The GT sits on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan, and while much of the proportionality of these cars is similar, the e-tron GT looks like an Audi. There are hints of the A5 or A7 in there, Audi's other sporty saloons. Despite being the same platform, driving the GT doesn't feel as altogether wide as the Taycan.
We can't help feeling that the e-tron GT is aimed squarely at the sort of person who might have considered the Audi A7 in the past, or one of the performance versions of that model. It's altogether less Porsche-like, really.
That partly comes down to those back doors, giving access to sensibly sized back seats, but you'll marvel at those wide wheel arches: the e-tron is all about looking taut and sporty and the result is a great looking car.
Is it better looking than the Porsche Taycan? Audi's design is more textured and complex, it's more angular, presenting a bigger nose compared to the Porsche - but you can quite literally vote with your money, with multiple versions of the Taycan and the Audi, all dotted around the same sort of price ranges.
Pictured here is the Audi e-tron GT Vorsprung edition, which is the higher trim level over the standard - although note that the model pictured here has the 21-inch RS e-tron GT wheels, the RS version being the higher-powered version (although only through tuning, not through additional motors).
The Vorsprung is more than just trim as it includes things like adaptive air suspension, all-wheel steering and acoustic glass, so there's a lot wrapped up in the different versions and, as always with Audi, there's a lot of options with some big prices attached to them too.
An Audi interior
But this is a high-quality car even at the "entry-level" - which still costs a pretty penny - affording many of the luxuries you could be after. The panoramic glass roof is standard, bringing a little more light into the interior - and that's welcomed, because the low stance of this car set against the dark leather of the interior could be a little confining otherwise.
Settling into the sports seats - which also change depending on the trim you go for - and there's plenty of space around the interior of the car, with those in the back seat getting ample head and knee room.
There are various options for the interior, including the vegan option - so you can have it leather-free if you'd rather avoid animal products.
There's also considerable depth to the boot, with 405 litres or storage space. This has a saloon-style opening, rather than being a full hatch like you'd find on the Audi A7, so access isn't as generous as some other models. It will, however, give you all the space you need for a week away, your golf clubs or whatever else you need to haul around. There's also a small under-floor space.
Much of the interior layout will be familiar if you've ever sat in or driven a modern Audi before. The company's Virtual Cockpit and layout of driver controls is a reflection of what you'll find in Audi's range, albeit in sportscar style - there's still a hefty centre console as if there's a transmission tunnel to cover.
This helps bring that cosseted feeling to the interior, but it also throws up some interesting design points. Rather than have everything curve around the driver, there is instead a slight tilt towards the driver. It's similar to what you'll find in the Q4 e-tron.
This makes the interior display sort-of look a little wonky, with a slight angle towards the driver for the climate control and other button access, none of which seem to line up with each other or anything else in a visual sense. You'll certainly spend some time looking at it, then looking at it again, cocking your head a little to try and pick out the lines it's following. This is partly because of the way the dash tapers off towards the passenger side of the car, with the display seeming to follow that taper.
We can't help feeling that the Taycan's curved driver display and flatter centre display looks a little more natural, but at least Audi retains more physical buttons. The German marque has clearly learnt a thing or two since opting for touch-controls with haptic feedback, now supplementing that with a physical row that's really helpful for quick-access to certain controls.
The use of glossy black finishes can look a little grubby, so make sure your valet pays close attention to getting those parts clean. You'll probably want to have a microfibre cloth on hand at all times, really, as touchscreens and sunlight combined will only highlight those smeary greasy fingerprints - a fact of life in the world of tech.
There's also no convenient place to drop your phone in the GT's interior. In the armrest is the phone box where Audi wants you to put your phone, as it also contains a clip to keep your phone from sliding around and sockets for charging or connecting to the USB sockets, but we found it too small to accommodate our phone. If you use a big phone in a case, it won't fit in the space allowed behind the little clip either. And with phones only getting bigger and bigger, including the likes of foldables, there's a little lack of foresight here.
These are perhaps trivialities in an interior that it this high quality, and it's difficult to ignore the sense of sumptuous luxury that befits the car's price. That there's three seats in the rear is a bonus, as it's practically large enough to transport your family. You can't say that of many other sportscars.
As we've mentioned, the interior is festooned with technology that will be familiar to any modern Audi driver. The MMI (multimedia interface) system has been in place for a number of years, with the Virtual Cockpit driver's display becoming standard across many of Audi's cars in recent years. In that sense, you could be in any Audi, there's little different about the e-tron GT, but it's also one of our favourite systems, so that's no bad thing.
The Virtual Cockpit is a full colour 12.3-inch display for the driver, offering a wide degree of customisation. With the press of a few buttons you can minimise the dials to focus on other information, you can have a full Google satellite map if that's what you want, or, more likely a combination of all your information.
While the default will give you dials left and right, the centre section works with the steering wheel buttons to give you access to most of the infotainment system functions, meaning you don't have to reach into the middle of the car and start tapping the display.
The full screen mapping remains a favourite - and some of the features in the mapping options are really great. You can search with the points of interest catalogue or Google, meaning you might get some more up-to-date results than other cars on the road.
You're also presented with easy search options for charging points. Just entering search has shortcuts for rapid chargers, DC or AC chargers, so you don't have to scroll down a huge list or start typing in "electric charger" to get it to search.
Taking that further, the results include type, location, network, power and availability - so this is better than you'll find in most other electric cars. However, it appears in a small box, which you have to drag wider to get to the information that's actually useful.
There's support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too.
Audi's MMI still works well, it's easy to get around and control all the options for entertainment, your phone or driving, and everything fits together well. Sure, it's an older system, but Audi got this right some time ago and hasn't run off to change it.
Drive, range and performance
In this category of electric car, it's hard to ignore Tesla's posturing around speed. Officially, the Audi e-tron GT will do 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds, with the RS e-tron GT doing the same in 3.3 seconds. The Taycan Turbo S will do the same in 2.6 seconds. The Tesla P100D in 2.4 seconds. But do we really care about such metrics? Ok, we do, slightly, but that's not the whole picture of this Audi.
There's a 93.4kWh battery on board the e-tron GT, delivering 350kW of power (390kW in boost) from the combined motors driving all four wheels. The official range is given as between 280 and 320 miles. It will charge at rates up to 270kW, which is fast, although such high-speed chargers are still fairly rare to locate.
Fully charged our car was showing a range of 264 miles, which is based on the averages attained through the way you drive and the conditions you're driving in, so range will always vary.
The biggest factor determining range, however, is how you drive the car, with a long-term average in the Audi e-tron GT delivering, in our hands, 3mpkWh. That would equate to around 280 miles total, the lower cited figure given by Audi.
Getting averages above that is rather more difficult, but it does feel like a consistent figure. Cruising on the motorway we achieved a similar average. Of course, it's easy to reduce the range by slipping into dynamic mode and flooring it, at which point the e-tron GT dumps huge amount of power, screaming out it's digital noise (a £500 option that we wouldn't opt for) and sending your heart leaping into your mouth.
There's little auto regeneration at all - lift your foot off the pedal and the car will coast. Instead you'll have to use the levers on the steering column to increase or reduce the lift-off regen and Audi really doesn't seem to have gone to town on this as you'll find in some other cars. That preserves some of that sportscar feeling, leaving the hyper efficiency to cars like the Hyundai Kona Electric.
The Audi e-tron GT is a really fun car to drive when you're not concerned about the range. On this Vorsprung version there's all wheel steering and adaptive suspension, the latter linked to the drive mode. It's worth noting that the eco mode lowers the suspension too, so it's a harsh ride without the excitement of a twitchy accelerator pedal.
The e-tron corners with purpose, but unless you drive with the vehicle slightly raised, you'll feel a lot of those broken surfaces - and in many cases you'll need to take those speed bumps slowly otherwise both you and the underside of the car will feel the impact.
Generally, though, it's a blast to drive. Hammering the e-tron GT through twisting A-roads and off onto the motorway is sublime. It's a fantastic experience, similar in some ways to the Porsche Taycan, giving you creature comforts and practicality, with a huge dollop of performance too. The Taycan does have that more sporty edge, however, having driven both.
The close pairing of Audi and Porsche in this all-electric sportscar category squares up to the incumbent Tesla Model S, looking to turn heads and demonstrate there is an alternative to what's become the more sedate-looking norm.
We've seen plenty of Taycans on the road already - and Audi certainly has the ingredients here to make this a more complicated buying choice for those looking for top-end EV.
From the exterior the e-tron GT is a great-looking car, while its interior delivers on the quality and convenience you expect. But it's the drive that sells it. It's a great car, with a very usable range if you're being lighter with your right foot.
At this level you can also slip into the regular e-tron GT and have pretty much all the creature comforts you need, along with a great drive, without having to spend big on the options list. If you do want more, then rest assured, Audi will let you spend far more than the £82K starting price.
Tesla Model S
With a minimalist interior, there's fun to be had through the huge central display, while the car's speed, range and Supercharger network wins Tesla its deserved praise. It's become a bit 'normal', though, which is where these new EVs, such as the Audi, could make some headway.
Putting that badge on the front of a car that looks this good was always likely to be a success. That it offers the practicality of back doors and is a blast to drive is the icing on the cake. It's a little quicker and sportier in its delivery than the e-tron GT, but only by a whisker.