JOHANNESBURG - According to the World Economic Forum, as electric vehicles (EV) become more affordable, some are predicting that they will constitute almost a third of new-car sales by the end of the next decade. Ride-sharing continues to surge, with estimates that, by 2030, it will account for more than 25% of all kilometres driven globally, up from 4% today.
These changes are just the first hints of the future that’s already on our doorstep, as we will soon see autonomous vehicles (AV) and commercial fleets of EVs integrated as parts of everyday life. The world is changing. It’s changed. Cars in particular are evolving at a more rapid pace than ever before. The biggest carmakers are hellbent on rolling out a fleet of electric models to suit changing lifestyles and reduce environmental impact.
Sports cars leading the way for electrification
Audi has joined the ranks of Porsche and Tesla in the upper echelon of performance and luxury when it comes to electric vehicles with its new dynamic duo, the new e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT.
Hinted at for years, and seen briefly in cameo sequences in the Marvel cinematic universe, the production-ready e-tron GT is ready to rumble and although the biggest markets for this car will be the USA and Europe, we can expect in South Africa within the next 12 months to take the fight to the Porsche Taycan on local tarmac.
So, what’s the AUDI e-tron GT?
According to Audi’s spokesmen, the e-tron GT is a reinterpretation of the age-old GT car philosophy for our current, excuse the pun, electric-age of mobility. Think of it as the new way forward in a world of internal combustion engines cars such as Audi’s own A7 Sportback and RS7. When it comes to that RS badge, in particular, the RS e-tron GT serves as the spearhead of electrification at Audi Sport, standing resolute as the most potent four-ring vehicle for the road they’ve ever made.
Both e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT share platforms and electrical architectures with the Porsche Taycan thanks to the group’s J1 platform technology. The e-tron GT measures in at 4990mm in length, 1960mm in width and it stands 1410mm in height. It’s a low-slung, mean-looking car, almost muscle-car like from some angles. The Taycan in comparison is 4963mm long, 1966mm wide and stands 1378mm tall. Dimensions-wise, there’s really nothing in it between the electric Porsche and the electric Audi, however, you do get more rear boot space in the e-tron GT (39 litres more) for that extra bit of kit.
One thing Audi was clear about in its virtual presentations of the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT is that is built to give drivers and passengers a very different performance motoring experience to its internal combustion engine sports cars and grand tourers. Different even to the Taycan that it shares so much technology with.
We’ve sifted through the 42-page press guide to bring you everything you need to know about the new e-tron GT in this succinct (as possible considering its technical nature) list below:
Audi e-tron GT design features a low drag coefficient of just 0.24, which enables high efficiency and a long driving range. Active aerodynamics with switchable air inlets for brakes and radiators, as well as a rear spoiler that extends in multiple stages and a closed underbody and wide diffuser, add to its efficiency.
As standard, the car comes with Matrix LED headlights in RS e-tron GT spec. Audi laser light technology is available as an option for both models. The rear lights offer a striking 3D light band and dynamic coming home and leaving home animations in combination with top-of-the-range headlights.
On the inside, it features an instrument panel with “driver orientation” and “monoposto character,” said to provide a greater feeling of space in the cabin. Audi says the car’s low seat position and wide centre console and rear seat bench (which could be suitable for adults) gives it a unique feel in the cabin, unlike any Audi that precedes it, including the R8 supercar. Another nifty thing about the e-tron GT is that it will feature a vegan-friendly cabin if that’s what you’re into these days.
Audi e-tron GT drive and recuperation technology
You get electric all-wheel drive with one permanently excited synchronous motor (PSM) at the front and rear axles with a two-speed transmission at the rear axle.
The Audi e-tron GT quattro has a total output of 350kW of power and 630Nm of torque, while the RS e-tron GT makes do with 440kW of power and 830Nm of torque.
With launch control engaged, an electric “boost” function increases the vanilla model’s output to 390kW for a period of 2.5 seconds. In the RS-e-tron GT, the power increase to 475kW for a maximum period of 2.5 seconds.
According to official numbers, 0 to 100km/h takes 4.1 seconds in the e-tron GT quattro, while the RS e-tron GT achieves the same sprint in just 3.3 seconds.
The vehicle also offers intelligent control of sailing functions and energy recuperation, with brake recuperation of up to 265kW available under load.
When it comes to the vehicle’s battery and thermal management, you get the best of lithium-ion battery technology with a net energy capacity of 85kWh (93kWh gross) and a voltage level of 800 volts. The battery pack itself is arranged as 396 pouch cells in 33 modules that can accommodate AC charging with an output of 11kW as standard for now. The battery can also accept DC charging with an output of up to 270kW as standard for rapid charges, once those high-output charging units become available. According to Audi, e-tron GT drivers can expect a range of around 488km with one charge (WLTP).
Sophisticated thermal management with four cooling circuits and an efficient heat pump come as standard to keep the whole system cool.
Driving the Audi e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT
Audi promises fantastic handling and grip due to the vehicle’s low centre of gravity and excellent axle load distribution thanks to the installation position of the battery and the arrangement of the electric motors.
You’ll also get a host of Audi pre sense safety systems as standard with optional “Tour”, “City”, and “Park” packages available depending on how bespoke you’d like your vehicle to be. Other options that you could go for include adaptive cruise assist and (remote) park assist plus as highlights.
To ensure the driving experience is also sonorous, the e-tron GT models will come with an Audi AVAS sound system that is said to be already more sonorous than legally prescribed. On top of this, buyers can choose to go for additional digital sound and noise options (and drama) in the quiet cabin and outside, kind of how you would if you opted for a sports exhaust if you bought a petrol sports car these days.
All cars come with Audi virtual cockpit plus and the new MMI touch display as standard, and you’ll get the usual natural voice control with online connection capability.
Coming to SA soon
Audi South Africa plans to launch the e-tron GT and its SUV siblings in South Africa in 2021. Production of the GT at Audi Böllinger Höfe at the Neckarsulm production site has already begun. The car will be built alongside the Audi R8. For more information, or to order your e-tron GT quattro or RS e-tron GT, we’d suggest getting in touch with your nearest Audi dealer to find out when to expect delivery if you order now, and considering the logistics delays caused by Covid-19 lockdowns around the world.