The electric sport-luxury sedan and its Audi Sport-tuned RS sibling will arrive later this year to challenge the current EV king, Tesla’s Model S.
Audi has just revealed its new performance flagship and it’s electric. Also, there are two of them: Meet the 2021 Audi E-Tron GT Quattro and its sportier sister, the RS E-Tron GT tuned by Audi Sport.
The E-Tron GT’s striking shape is no surprise; we got our first look at the low-slung, four-door coupe in concept form at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show — heck, we were even able to drive the prototype. The production car sticks remarkably close to that vision, with the same muscular shoulders and lean, mean profile.
The electric sedan beats the Byton K-Byte and Faraday Future’s FF 91 to the market, taking its place in Audi’s growing stable of electric vehicles — including the E-Tron SUV, the upcoming Q4 E-Tron and their respective Sportback variants — later this year. Of course, the GT will have to face the seemingly unbeatable threat that is the Tesla Model S’ superior range, bringing to the challenge the promise of more upscale, luxurious details and almost ridiculously fast charging.
2021 Audi E-Tron GT Quattro and RS E-Tron GT make production-ready debut
Battery and range
The E-Tron GT formula starts with a 92-kWh battery, 85 kWh of which is usable (the rest is kept in reserve to preserve longevity). The battery pack is mostly flat, making up the floor of the car, save for a pair of what Audi calls “foot garages,” two small recesses in the pack behind the driver’s seat that improve rear passenger legroom and, as a result, headroom as well.
Audi estimates that the E-Tron GT will cruise for up to 238 miles per charge based on the US EPA cycle, while the RS E-Tron GT will go 232 miles. Final EPA estimates aren’t available yet, but we bet they’ll be close to Audi’s claims.
Look closely and you’ll notice that the E-Tron GT features charging doors on both of its front fenders, each housing a SAE J1772 standard AC port capable of 11-kW charging at home or public chargers (Audi will add an option for 22-kW charging sometime after launch).
The passenger side, however, is also home to a standard CCS DC fast-charge port that can accept up to 270 kW at ultra-high-speed stations like those offered by Ionity in Europe or Electrify America here in the US. Under optimal conditions, the E-Tron GT can add up to 62 miles of range in just 5 minutes through this connection, rapid charging from 5 percent to 80 percent in under 23 minutes. To do this, this electric grand tourer makes use of active cooling before and during charging to balance speed and battery health.
The E-Tron GT’s standard Quattro electric all-wheel-drive powertrain features two motors. Up front is a 175-kW unit and a 320-kW motor powers the rear wheels. The rear motor is particularly interesting, as it connects to the wheels via a two-speed transmission — a rarity among electric cars. This allows Audi to use a short ratio for launch control and sporty driving or a taller gear for more efficient driving and high-speed cruising. (Corporate cousin Porsche uses a two-speed gearbox for its Taycan, too.)
Full power can be shifted to either the front or rear motor under certain conditions — for example, when passing over a patch of ice, but most of the time, it blends the two for a net total output of 350 kW — about 469 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. However, for short bursts of power — such as during launch control — output can be temporarily boosted to a total of 390 kW (523 horsepower), allowing for a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint of just 4.1 seconds.
The higher-performance RS E-Tron GT features the same front motor, but upgrades to a more powerful 335-kW rear motor and a higher system output of 440 kW — about 590 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Its boost output is also higher, at 475 kW (637 horsepower). The RS also features a standard rear-axle differential lock — optional on the base model — to boost rear wheel traction.
Unsurprisingly, the more powerful RS E-Tron GT sprints more quickly to 62 mph than the standard model — taking just 3.3 seconds — and has a slightly higher top speed of 155.3 mph versus 152.2 mph for the regular E-Tron GT. GT features the same front motor, but upgrades to a more powerful 335 kW rear motor and a higher system output of 440 kW — about 590 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Its boost output is also higher, at 475 kW (637 horsepower). The RS also features a standard rear-axle differential lock — optional on the base model — to boost rear wheel traction.
The more powerful RS E-Tron GT sprints more quickly to 62 mph (100 km/h) than the standard model — taking just 3.3 seconds — and has a slightly higher top speed of 155.3 mph versus 152.2 mph for the regular E-Tron GT.