July 2, 2022

MSVW-Auto

Beyond Automotive

Electric Grand Touring Done Right

7 min read

We’re often overly consumed with range figures and charging times when talking about electric cars, especially online. I can’t remember the last time I thought about how far a gas-powered vehicle could go. There’s a good reason for this. We can’t just top up an EV in a minute and be set for hours again. However, EVs are at a point where you can forget about range anxiety. On average, Americans drive about 29 miles per day, meaning that any electric car with at least 200 miles of range is suitable for a week of commuting. 

I bring this up at the top of the review for a good reason. The car I’ve been testing this week is a 2022 Audi e-tron GT. On paper, its EPA estimated 238 miles of range lag behind crucial competitors, especially new EV startups such as Rivian or Lucid. This is important as Audi claims it is its first electric grand tourer. However, aside from munching miles, the e-tron GT best delivers a driving experience that feels expensive. With an as-tested price of $118,740, it certainly needs to. Combine that with the best looks in the business, a cabin covered in premium materials, and you get not just one of the best EVs I’ve ever driven but one of my favorite cars, full stop. 

Styling

As much as I enjoy racking up miles in a six-figure Audi, I loved staring at it whenever I stopped for food or a charge. I’ll be the first to admit that the e-tron GT’s front end wasn’t love at first sight. The gloss black trim in the front seemed more like a mouthguard than anything else. However, I was sold as soon as I saw my tester’s Tactical Green metallic paint and how well it contrasted against the black. From there, you get 20-inch five-spoke wheels that are about an inch too small but still look quite elegant. 

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As your eye makes its way to the rear, you’ll notice more glossy black on the roof and a sloping roofline towards the rear. The central part of the show, however, is this car’s hips. I know we walk about cars with widened arches, but the e-tron manages to widen towards the rear elegantly. With not a sharp crease anywhere in sight, the e-tron looks sleek and elegant. A personal highlight is the wrap-around tail lights that seemingly hug its rear arches. Not only do they have an exciting light signature, but they help to widen the car visually. It also helps that they make a quirky dance as soon as you unlock the thing. 

I will add a caveat that the e-tron GT’s good looks depend mainly on its color. Stick to a more executive-friendly shade of white, black, or silver, and you’ll lose the magic sauce. This car is best suited for fun colors, of which Audi has plenty. If it were my money, Tango Red or Ascari Blue would be the best ways to go. 

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Performance/Handling

It’s easy to look at the photos of this Tactical Green e-tron GT and forget that it’s technically the base model. Audi makes a hotter RS version for an additional $40,000. However, after spending time in both, it’s hard to justify recommending the range-topping variant. It all comes down to the fact that the “base” e-tron GT is still wicked fast. It develops 469 horsepower and 464 foot-pounds of torque. With “Boost Mode” engaged, it’ll pump out up to 522 hp for brief periods. Flat out, it’ll hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds before continuing to a top speed of 152 mph. 

Sure, the RS is still relatively faster on paper, with 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque on tap and a run to 60 mph of 3.1 seconds. However, these differences aren’t as significant as they seem in the real world. Around town, the e-tron GT and the RS model feel evenly matched, darting from stop lights and quickly dicing up traffic. The main differences come as you haul them well past the speed limit on a canyon road. For daily commuting, those $40,000 are better spent elsewhere. 

Unlike many other EVs, the e-tron GT has a two-speed transmission. This may not seem like a big deal, but it solves one of the biggest gripes of the current crop of EVs. Electric cars are quick off the line that we know. However, once you’re at speed, they don’t pick up the pace nearly as fast. This transmission solves that. The e-tron GT rockets forward, no matter the speed, making it feel faster than its figures would suggest in the real world. 

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When you show it some corners, the e-tron GT is more than willing to play. Its excellent handling prowess comes largely down to the fact that it has Porsche DNA. This “base” GT is equivalent to a Taycan 4S, meaning it may look like an Audi, but it handles vaguely like a Porsche. I say vaguely because it’s sprung softer than its electric sibling. Sure, its limits aren’t relatively as high on the canyons as it tends to roll a bit and understeer a lot. But around town, the e-tron is undoubtedly the more comfortable of the two and the one I’d personally pick to get into every day. 

So we know it’s properly fast and it handles well, but the e-tron is not without fault. The two significant downsides of this car are its steering and its brakes. On the steering front, it’s very Audi in the sense that while it’s quick and direct, it lacks any feeling whatsoever. The first sign you’re beginning to understeer will come from the noise you hear as the tires squeal, not communicative steering. The brakes are the opposite. The pedal feel is quite decent, and they’re easy to modulate. The problem is that there just isn’t enough braking power, especially in a car that weighs as much as a three-row SUV.

Range/Charging

The e-tron GT has a bit of an ace up its sleeve in the range department. According to the EPA estimate, this car should be able to cover 238 miles on a full charge. However, during a road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego, I easily managed to squeeze over 250 miles. Speaking with other colleagues, their experience has largely been similar, so it seems those official figures are pretty conservative.

Once you do need to stop and charge, however, it’ll happen quickly. The e-tron GT has a 93 kWh battery pack and an 800-volt architecture. In short, this means that the GT should be able to keep up as charging speeds increase over the coming years. For now, it can charge up to 270 kW, giving you about 120 miles of range in 10 minutes or about 80 percent charge in a little over 20 minutes. In my experience driving it around Los Angeles, finding chargers wasn’t a problem, and it seems Electrify America has made considerable strides in figuring out how to make its chargers work properly. 

Interior/Tech

Inside, the Audi e-tron GT is like a regular car. I highlight that it isn’t trying to be overly futuristic. You won’t find fixed air vents like on the Taycan or an omission of all physical buttons. I can’t praise Audi enough for sticking to a standard cabin with this car. Everything is where you’d expect it to be and is easy to operate. In front of the driver, there’s a 12.3-in digital instrument cluster supplemented by a 10.1-in screen in the dashboard. Audi’s cluster is easily one of my favorites, the graphics are excellent, and all the information you could ever want is easily accessible and readable at a glance. 

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Up front, you get 14-way adjustable seats as standard with both cooling and heating. If you opt for the full leather interior option like my tester, you even get a massage option. These chairs were fantastic over my long drive down south, supporting my back in all the right places and delivering endless comfort. The same goes for the rest of the cabin. It’s hushed on the highway. That is until you put your foot down and get Audi’s added acceleration noise. It comes in smoothly, so it doesn’t disrupt the overall comfort of the interior.

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Pricing

So it looks good, drives well, and is a luxurious place to be. As you might imagine, all of that comes at a cost, and the e-tron GT does, starting at $100,945, including a $1,045 destination charge. As tested, the car I’ve been driving comes in at $118,740 thanks to options such as the Performance Package for $6,000, Full Leather Interior for $4,000, and Prestige Package for $7,200. After spending a week behind the wheel, it’s clear that this car delivers a driving experience fitting its price tag. At every turn, the e-tron GT feels expensive. However, my biggest recurring thought was how little I missed the RS. That as-tested price is still $40,000 below an equivalent RS; from where I’m standing, I can’t justify it.

Closing Thoughts

The Audi e-tron GT is a car that nails the basics of what makes a great grand tourer. It’s comfortable, fast, and wonderful to look at. However, it doesn’t fall flat on its face once you take it up a canyon road. It’s more than a willing dance partner through the corners. While it may be softer than its Porsche sibling, it’s more comfortable around town. Couple that with a world-class interior, and you get an EV that may not be the best on paper but might be in the real world where it truly matters. 


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