2020 Audi e-tron GT: specs, price, release date & prototype review

The Audi e-tron GT will be the firm's flagship electric model, going head-to-head with the Tesla Model S

Audi e-tron GT

The Audi e-tron GT electric car is set to be unveiled soon, ahead of an on-sale date in early 2021. We've also had the opportunity to drive a lightly camouflaged prototype of the car (see below), giving us our first impression of Audi's rival for the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan – and it's a good one.

An e-tron GT concept was revealed at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show (see our gallery further down the page), but its running gear and looks are thought to be all-but-identical to those of the production version. This is clear from various images of camouflaged e-tron GT test mules, which clearly show the car's distinctive front and rear end treatments, as well as its rakish roofline.

Similar in size to an Audi A7, the e-tron GT will join the e-tron and e-tron Sportback SUVs in the Audi range, eventually forming part of a 25-strong line-up of electrified cars carrying the 'e-tron' badge. The GT is expected to cost north of £100,000 in the UK, which would position it as the flagship for the entire e-tron electric-car range.

Audi e-tron GT prototype drive

The car we drove was the range-topping 'RS' variant – a badge already familiar from the most powerful versions of the A4, A6 and other Audis. Power output will be similar to its combustion-engined cousins at 591bhp as standard, with that figure stretching to 638bhp for short periods in 'overboost' mode.

A 94kWh battery feeds a pair of electric motors (one on each axle) and Audi is predicting a driving range of around 250 miles, along with a top speed of 155mph and a 0-62mph time of under 3.5 seconds. The price for all that capability is expected to be in the region of £125,000; in time, an entry-level e-tron with less power and range could come in around the £100,000 mark, but either way it's going to be an expensive car.

Under the metal, the e-tron GT shares its platform and many components with the already-released Porsche Taycan. But while that model is very much pitched as a sharp and agile 'four-door sports car', Audi intends for the e-tron GT – as the name suggests – to be more of a luxurious, long-distance 'grand tourer'. To this end, it boasts its own design of air suspension and steering to differentiate it from its Porsche cousin.

Based on our first drive, Audi has largely achieved its goals in this respect. It felt more fluid over a mixture of different types of roads, with a surprisingly soft suspension for something wearing that 'RS' badge. The steering is light and direct, making the e-tron very easy to manoeuvre at low speeds and in tight spaces.

But if you want to tackle some twisty roads with enthusiasm, the Audi is capable of a transformation into a thrilling sports car: it hides its 2,200kg bulk very well, partly due to a low century of gravity and partly thanks to a rear-wheel steering system that gives it an extra layer of agility. There's also a variable all-wheel-drive system that can redirect power across all four wheels to where it's needed most, including sending almost all drive to the rear.

Unusually for an electric car (but in common with the Taycan), the e-tron GT has two gears, with second used for more refined cruising. It starts in this gear if you select Comfort mode, but in first gear if you're in Dynamic mode, for stronger acceleration before shifting to second. You're not able to select gears yourself; it's up to the car.

Although the e-tron GT RS makes 100bhp less than the most powerful model in the Taycan line-up, it still accelerates staggeringly quickly. Audi is planning an even faster 'RS Performance' variant, but it's hard to see how it's necessary, apart perhaps from beating Tesla's on-paper acceleration figures.

Returning to the e-tron's grand touring credentials, as with the Taycan, there are a number of useful storage areas, but it's a long way from a spacious SUV or estate car. It shares the Taycan's useful 'foot garage' for rear-seat passengers, with space from the gaps in the battery pack used to give more legroom. Headroom is generally fine, but a sloping roofline and narrow windows can make things feel a bit claustrophobic in the back. There's a 400-litre boot in the rear and an additional 80 litres of storage up front.

Overall, the e-tron GT feels like a new benchmark for the luxury electric-car class. While it can't quite stretch to Tesla's most extreme acceleration figures, it's more exciting and involving to drive than a Model S, and its ability to switch from comfortable cruiser to thrilling sports car with just a change of driving mode is deeply impressive. For those that can stretch to the Audi's significant price tag, it should be more than worth the outlay.

Electric motor and battery

Around 60% of the e-tron GT's parts under the metal are shared with the Porsche Taycan, with both cars using the same Volkswagen Group 'J1' platform. This includes the dual electric-motor setup, producing 582bhp, which is more than the standard Audi R8 V10 petrol supercar makes. As can be expected for an electric car, the GT will have significantly more torque than its two-door, conventionally powered stablemate.

It'll do 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 149mph, while the 96kWh battery will charge from flat to 80% in only 15-20 minutes from a high-speed 350kW charging station. And with the regenerative braking system turned up to a high level, single-pedal driving should be possible.

Accomplished handling is promised due to a low centre of gravity, thanks both to lightweight carbon-fibre doors and roof, as well as the weight of the battery pack located low down in the chassis.

Styling

There are expected to be only minor variations between the GT Concept and what eventually goes on sale to the public in. The production model will seat five people.

The Los Angeles show car featured motorsport-style centre-locking wheels, but the roadgoing version will revert to the traditional five bolts. The wheels' design and 22-inch diameter won't change, though.

It's also likely that we won't see the concept’s glowing front and rear e-tron logos and touch-sensitive door openers on the finished product. Elsewhere, the absence of an engine up front and exhaust pipes at the rear has allowed for a very low bonnet and an advanced aerodynamic diffuser.

Interior

Inside the Audi e-tron GT, the main centre section of the dashboard extends out into the doors to emphasise the interior's width, while the driver's position is inspired by that of the R8 supercar, giving it a cockpit-like feel.

Audi promises four adults will be able to travel in comfort in the GT, with special 'foot garages' built into the floor to give more footroom. For luggage, there's a 400-litre boot at the back and an additional 100 litres of storage under the bonnet.