Audi e-tron GT quattro 2021 review – Porsche Taycan 4S gets a family rival
The entry level e-tron GT is another great grand tourer but question marks remain over touring range ability.
As with its RS big brother the Audi e-tron GT quattro is based on the VW Group’s J1 platform, the very same that underpins Porsche’s highly impressive and fast selling Taycan models. As with the Porsche models and the RS, the GT quattro has a 93kWh battery and uses the same motors on the front and rear axle with a two-speed gearbox on the rear.
At 469bhp it generates less power than the RS, which is allowed to produce 590bhp, but the GT quattro still delivers that instant get up and go so loved by electric car owners and can, according to the WLTP figures, provide a 298-mile range. More of which, a little later.
However, unlike comparing an Audi S6 with with an RS6, there really is little to choose between the quattro and the RS in terms of how they drive 90 percent of the time, so it comes down to how deep your pockets are and if it’s important for you to reach 60mph in less than four seconds when you could settle for under five.
Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time
There’s a 93kWh battery slung between the axles, of which 83.7kWh is used to power the car’s two motors: a 235bhp motor on the front axle with another on the rear producing 429bhp, which transmits its power through a two-speed gearbox. Although the lower of the two ratios is only engaged if you select Dynamic mode or launch control.
And like all EVs, you can’t just add the power outputs of both motors together and shout about the supercar baiting result, because the battery can’t deliver the required amount of juice to do so. Therefore, the GT quattro is pegged back to 469bhp, which in a car weighing 2347kg equates to 203bhp per ton, or the same as a GR Yaris...
Despite its hefty weight the GT quattro reaches 62mph in 4.5-seconds, reduced by four-tenths when launch control and the 523bhp overboost function are engaged (the latter lasting for a scant 2.5 seconds). Top speed? 152mph.
The skateboard design of the J1 platform means there’s nothing beneath the Audi’s body that’s fundamentally different to Porsche’s Taycan. Therefore, there’s double-wishbones at the front and a multi-link design for the rear and a uniform wheelbase length of 2900mm.
Adaptive dampers and steel springs are standard on the GT quattro models, with Vorsprung editions getting air suspension and four-wheel steering as per the RS models. Torque vectoring is standard on the rear axle of the quattro in place of the RS’s more sophisticated e-diff.
As with the RS, the two paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to adjust brake regeneration, although on its maximum setting it doesn’t convert the GT into a one pedal car. Some will consider this a missed opportunity although others will like the coasting capability you’d associate with a GT car when you lift off. 20-inch wheels are standard, with a 245/45 and 285/40 tyre front and rear.
Charging is via ports positioned behind the front wheels on either side of the car, with the offside one being an AC charging port with the nearside capable of taking an AC or DC charge. There’s a 11kW onboard charger and if you can find a 800-volt charging station, it can rapid charge at 270kW or use a 400-volt 150kW rapid charge. Find the former and the battery can be charged from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes, or you can add 60 miles in just 5 minutes.
What’s it like to drive?
As with the RS GT and its Porsche cousins the GT quattro is a supreme GT car. Smooth, relaxed, eerily quiet and capable of covering miles swiftly and with an unexpected level of competence.
It rides with an uncharacteristic calmness for an Audi, flowing across the surface rather than tap dancing along it, which is down to Porsche engineering so much quality into the platform for others to benefit from. Even the steering, which is far from being pin sharp, still manages to hook you in and out of a turn without any dramas.
Across our route from Inverness to Gairloch that make up parts of the North Coast 500 the GT quattro flows from open corner to open corner, maintaining a pace that would require something with a more evo powertrain to work a little harder to pass and leave the GT behind.
During the 200-mile test route it proved to be a car operating well within itself. The instant torque - up to 472lb ft - allows for effortless overtaking and a generous shove out of corners and along the straights when required, resulting in a car that brings together the very best elements of the very best GT cars in something that costs less than all comparable supersaloons.
But, and this will sound like a stuck record to EV evangelists, the range remains an achilles heel. We left our base with a full charge and 207 miles showing (not sure where the other claimed 89 got to), drove the 81 miles to our destination at above average pace but nowhere near as hard as we might have done in an RS6, and arrived with 107 miles of range. A further 10 miles of driving for photography left us with 78 miles (stop-starts aren’t an EV’s favourite thing) for the 81-mile return trip using the same route. We made it back with 2 miles of range. Whether it made any difference that we selected efficiency mode for the return leg (we ran in Comfort on the way there) and turned the central screen and comms and media off, we’ve no idea. But it made us feel like we were trying a little harder not to become an unwanted roadside obstacle.
Like all big EV saloon cars, the e-tron GT quattro is a lovely car to travel in and has a level of performance to keep most of the journey interesting, but while the range continues to fall short you’re left with one of the finest GT cars you can buy that, if used it as intended still comes up a couple of miles short.
Price and rivals
e-Tron GT quattro prices start at under £81.000, with the Vorsprung edition, which adds adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering, Matrix LED headlights and night vision amongst other kit, starting at £107,000. Audi UK expects 90 percent of GT quattro sales to be for the entry level model compared to the Vorsprung, with sales of the two combined accounting for 80 percent of all e-tron GT sales.