Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
We weren’t joking in the Introduction section. The entry-level Audi e-tron GT really is extremely fast.
It has two electric motors, one driving the front wheels and one for the rears, making it four-wheel drive. That means it gets off the line with no drama in terms of wheelspin, but an all-encompassing drama in terms of the force with which it mashes you back in the seat.
We tested the e-tron GT's real world range and determined it to be around 230 miles during a mix of town, A-road and motorway driving. That all but matched what you can expect from the Taycan 4S when it's fitted with the same 93kWh battery. That battery is an option on the 4S, though, while it's standard with the e-tron GT.
Right, let’s move on from the bold statistics to the nuances of handling. Here, the e-tron GT and Taycan feel like two peas from the same pod, while the Model S is a bit of a potato. The Taycan is tuned for ultimate agility, while the e-tron GT is purposely slightly softer (Audi says it’s closer to the ethos of a grand tourer), but it’s still a great-handling electric car. The second best on sale, in fact.
Take its steering. Yes, it’s lighter than the Taycan’s, but it is direct and accurate so you can place the car on the road perfectly and feel some sense of the surface tingling your fingers as you do. Four-wheel steering (an option on the GT and standard on the RS) adds extra agility at slow speeds and greater stability on motorways.
We’ve only sampled the adaptive air suspension that’s standard on the e-tron GT RS (the e-tron GT gets adaptive suspension as standard with the air springs as an option) and there’s very little body lean for such a heavy car.
The Audi e-tron GT’s balance of grip is biased slightly towards the rear. That means that if you back off the accelerator, you can use the pivoting rear end to tuck the nose into the corner then put the power down and feel the rear squatting and driving you out of the other side.
It’s thrilling if you thrive on the intricacies of a car’s handling dynamics, and way more fun than the Tesla Model S, or even the Model 3, for that matter. If you’re thinking, “All that sounds a bit too much – I just want to make it round a corner in one piece”, it’ll do that too. When you’re not pushing its ultimate limits, the e-tron GT and RS are grippy, surefooted and a doddle to drive.
The regenerative brakes of many electric cars are a bit of a pain. They replenish the battery with energy as you slow down, but that means integrating a normal braking system – for full-on stops – with the motors’ retardation during gentler braking. Getting this symbiosis wrong makes the brakes hard to judge and disjointed, but the e-tron GT’s are pretty good.
They’re not quite as linear as the best brakes on regular (that is, non-electric) performance cars, but you can learn to meter them progressively enough.
One thing to note: you cannot drive the e-tron GT with one pedal as you can the Model S because the regenerative effect isn’t powerful enough to stop the car by lifting off the accelerator alone. Also, the optional carbon-ceramic brakes that are available with the RS have a disappointing dead patch at the top of the pedal's travel. The standard brakes aren’t blighted by that.
As with the Taycan, there’s a fair amount of motor and gearbox whine in the e-tron GT, mainly below 30mph, and the gearbox (there’s a two-speed automatic ’box driving the rear wheels) can shunt at times under hard acceleration.
Road and wind noise are more noticeable than in some versions of the Taycan we've experienced but far from antagonising. The e-tron GT gets an acoustically glazed windscreen and the Vorsprung trim adds acoustic glazing to the side windows as well.