Based on the Porsche Taycan, the Audi has a character all its own (and it might even be more fun).

At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show (a time when we could all still gather around a car and discuss it clearly without masks), Audi unveiled an EV prototype that was a huge success. The name? The Audi E-Tron GT Concept. After two-plus years of waiting, the automaker is ready to debut the production-ready 2022 Audi E-Tron GT, arriving on our roads with only minor alterations from its concept predecessor.

A few weeks after its official presentation, we were able to take the wheel of the model for two short hours in Reims, France, for a very preliminary "first taste," stoking our appetites for a more complete drive in the coming weeks. This was an opportunity to get a closer look at the famous platform-mate of the Porsche Taycan and to check whether the E-Tron GT upholds Audi's claim that it is indeed a different animal than its cousin from Stuttgart. 

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

Love At First Sight?

Instantly, the Audi E-Tron GT wows onlookers with its spectacular design and unusual details. Although it looks much more imposing than the Taycan 4S, the two actually share the same footprint, with an identical 114.2-inch wheelbase and only marginal length and width differences – the Taycan 4S spans 195.4 inches long and 84.4 inches wide, while the Euro-spec E-Tron is up inch between the bumpers and 0.6-inch between the mirrors. 

But while Porsche comparisons are inevitable, it also must be said that the E-Tron is also far more dynamic-looking than the similarly sized S7 Sportback, thanks to a 0.2-inch-lower roofline and some incremental length and width increases. Customers in this type of segment are all but guaranteed to respond positively to the E-Tron GT's stance, and the wind will love it too, thanks to a drag coefficient of 0.24 (slightly up on the smoother Taycan's 0.22).

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

Like the exterior, the cabin is no mere copy-paste of the Porsche EV, but a bona fide Audi interior. While the Taycan features up to four interior screens, the E-Tron GT makes do with two – a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch infotainment system. For our part, we find it more ergonomic, thanks in particular to the presence of physical buttons for certain shortcuts. On the other hand, as in the Taycan, we still feel a bit overwhelmed, and our tester wasn't even equipped with the optional MMI Touch secondary center display.

The 2022 Audi E-Tron GT also isn't the best in terms of interior roominess, with fairly cramped rear seats. And thanks to a fairly prominent door sill (a function of the floor-mounted batteries), you'll have to contort yourself to get in. At the very least, luggage space shouldn't be an issue. This European-market E-Tron GT features a 405-liter cargo area under the rear hatch and an 81-liter frunk – that converts to 14.3 cubic feet and 2.9 cubic feet respectively, though those numbers don't necessarily correspond to official US-market measuring standards.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

The 2022 Audi E-Tron GT, By The Numbers

This sporty (but not too sporty, since there's an RS version coming) EV has two electric motors; one mounted on the front axle makes 235 horsepower on its own, while the rear motor produces 429. Between the two, the E-Tron GT reins in 469 ponies, with a total of 464 pound-feet as well. Also, an occasional-use "overboost" function frees up 522 hp and 472 lb-ft, useful for quick passes or stoplight getaways. Audi claims a 60-mile-per-hour sprint of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 152 mph.

Like the Taycan but unlike some other EVs, the E-Tron GT has a two-speed gearbox, allowing for faster response across a wider speed range. What's more, a rear differential lock allows for better grip when exiting corners or encountering bad weather. Notably, the Audi's powertrain corresponds more closely to that of the Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus, eclipsing both the standard Taycan 4S and the base Taycan in terms of power and speed. Porsche won't release its grip on flagship performance though; both the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S outpace the forthcoming Audi RS E-Tron GT.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

As far as charging is concerned, Audi claims that taking the battery from 5 percent to 80 percent will take 22.5 minutes with a maximum charging power of 270 kW. It will take about nine hours on a standard home charging outlet to go from 0 to 100 percent. On the battery side, we have an 800-volt system, not a 400-volt system, which allows for a more consistent distribution of performance.

Comprised of 33 separate modules with 12 cells each, the battery contains 396 cells for a total capacity of 93.4 kilowatt-hours. Each module has an internal control unit to manage voltage and temperature. Integrated into the cooling circuit of the car via a heat pump, the battery can be cooled or heated to be perpetually within an ideal temperature window, minimizing range degradation and prolonging battery life.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

Is It Really An Audi?

Audi claims an EPA-rated range of 238 miles, and fortunately, after two hours of driving and one hour of photography, we didn't come close to depleting the battery. Of course, such a short drive cycle isn't enough to really evaluate the E-Tron GT's range claims (we'll need much more time for that), so we chose to spend most of our time concentrating on the EV's dynamics and driving behavior.

From the very first spin, we expected the E-Tron to be a perfect copy of Porsche's Taycan, which would have been a great outcome for the firm with four rings. But we should have listened to the company representatives when they said that the Audi takes Porsche's underpinnings, but applies a different philosophy to them. You can feel within the first few blocks that, true to its name, the E-Tron is more of a GT car, with a softer suspension and more subtly tuned steering.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

That's not enough to make it a "soft" car, though – quite the opposite, with 469 hp to play with, the Audi is plenty fast. But while the Taycan absolutely crushes you against your seat, the E-Tron GT is a bit more docile, with less violent acceleration. That doesn't stop it from offering the driver a dynamic experience, and it's still very fun to drive.

The two-speed gearing is good, and dynamic behavior is better. Thanks to some weather during our test drive, the road was particularly greasy. We weren't concerned, because if the E-Tron GT was as grounded as a Taycan, only the laws of physics could stop our enthusiasm. The tires play a key role here too, obviously. With Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber, our Audi E-Tron GT Quattro could quickly turn into a dancer, especially during overly ambitious acceleration at the exit of a curve that could result in some delightful, controllable oversteer.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

Not since the mid-engined R8 RWD has an Audi felt so sporty and playful. Even more surprising,  the E-Tron GT is particularly fun on twisty roads, more so than a base Porsche Taycan, which will prefer to play the efficiency card. The Audi's steering is less incisive and its suspension is softer, but the result is, possibly paradoxically, more frisky and enjoyable. And all this without breaking your lumbar vertebrae at the slightest bump. That may be the mark of a true GT car – comfortable over long distances, without sacrificing the joy of making good time over a twisty, undulating road.

Of course, it's hard to argue with the laws of physics too much when piloting more than 5,000 pounds of European-market EV around. Audi does its best to defeat Newton, employing rear-axle steering, an Audi Sport setting for the rear differential, and E-Quattro all-wheel drive that can power the car in rear-drive-only mode. But all that mass translates into a lot of inertia, so anticipating the road ahead is crucial. Our 2,290-kilogram (5,048-pound) test car can quickly take you where you don't want to go if you get overly ambitious.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

Especially since the E-Tron's braking is not what delighted us most. While the Audi RS E-Tron GT comes standard with tungsten carbide–treated brakes with 16.3-inch rotors and 10-piston calipers at the front (brakes that were introduced at Porsche some time ago), our standard Quattro version had 14.1-inch steel brake discs and six-piston calipers. Those seemingly massive brakes feel slightly undersized for such a heavy car (for sporting use, at least). Not to be catastrophic, they were adequate for most situations.

Another grievance, inherent in virtually all electric cars, is the transition from regenerative braking to friction braking. The "conventional" braking system is only called upon beyond a deceleration of more than 0.39 g. This is a very complex operation, so as a result, little happens at the beginning of the pedal stroke until hydraulic braking comes into action and suddenly grips the discs. At first, it's very surprising behavior, and the lack of progressiveness hinders dynamic driving.

 

Counting Pennies

Pricing for the US-market 2022 Audi E-Tron GT hasn't been completely sussed out just yet, but we know that the base Quattro will start at $99,900 plus $1,095 for destination. The France-spec car we drove was very well equipped, with a 100,500-euro starting price bolstered by a 5,400-euro Dynamic package (Quattro differential on the rear axle, steerable rear wheels, and adaptive air suspension) and 4,600-euro carbon fiber roof – which might not be essential, since the standard E-Tron GT's center of gravity is already lower than that of the R8 supercar.

Brake-wise, those aforementioned tungsten-coated discs cost an additional 4,150 euros, and they're much more suitable for dynamic use. And if steel really doesn't suit you, Audi still offers ceramic brakes as an option at 10,500 euros, but they make more sense on the high-performance RS E-Tron GT than on the less aggressive Quattro model.

Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)
Essai Audi e-tron GT quattro (2021)

If you really want maximum Audi EV performance, you'll have to get in line for that RS model. With a starting price of $139,900 in the US, the RS E-Tron GT gets 590 hp (or 637 hp on overboost) and 612 lb-ft, good for a 60-mph sprint of 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. The RS also comes standard with a carbon fiber roof, rear-axle steering, and the sport differential, making it an easier sell to those who might option the standard Quattro with those features.

The E-Tron GT is built at Audi's Böllinger Höfe plant in Neckarsulm, Germany – the same facility as the R8. The first customer deliveries of the Audi EV, including the higher-performance RS version, will commence this summer in the US. Specific option pricing and packaging will be revealed closer to that nebulous on-sale date, but Audi will offer the E-Tron in $99,900 Premium Plus and $107,100 Prestige forms, with the RS E-Tron sold in a single top-dog trim level.

Those prices compare favorably to the Porsche EVs: the $79,900 Taycan rear-drive, $103,800 Taycan 4S, $109,370 Taycan 4S with Performance Battery Plus, $150,900 Taycan Turbo, and $185,000 Taycan Turbo S.

Parting Thoughts

Though too short, our first encounter with the newest member of Audi's expanding E-Tron family was a nice surprise. Some will find the E-Tron GT to offer a bit more fun than the efficiency-minded Porsche, and the more civilized Audi is also perfectly usable on a daily basis. (Of course, like most EVs, the Audi's user-friendliness is contingent on what charging setup one has at home.)

In any case, behind the wheel, the E-Tron GT is a good surprise, despite our few kilometers behind the wheel. The short drive was tantalizing, and unlike other electric cars, it makes us want to discover the 2022 Audi E-Tron GT a little longer.

Gallery: 2021 Audi E-Tron GT Quattro First Drive

Photo by: Marius Hanin

Audi E-Tron GT quattro

Engine Front And Rear Permanent Synchronous Electric Motors
Output 469 Horsepower (522 On Overboost)
Maximum torque 464 Pound-Feet (472 On Overboost)
Battery Lithiuim-Ion (93.4 kWh)
EV Range 238 Miles (EPA est.)
Transmission Two-Speed Automatic
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 3.9 Seconds
Maximum speed 155 MPH
Seating Capacity 5
Base Price $99,900
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