The last time I saw the Audi e-tron GT, it was being mobbed by members of a panting press at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show with Iron Man — er, actor Robert Downey Jr. — behind the wheel. The GT hasn’t lost its appeal.
With a long, lean Audi figure draped over the same bones that carry the Porsche Taycan EV, the e-tron is a rocket ship with four doors.
It’s also a lot more fun with an in-house charger.
Last year, I piloted a wicked-quick Taycan EV around town, but had a shy right foot given the limits of 200 miles of range. I had scant few electrons left after a trip to Hell (Michigan) and back — then faced a lengthy charge at a local (glitchy) Electrify America station.
A Juicebox 240-volt charger (displacing $1,275 in my wallet including installation) now hangs on my garage wall next to a Tesla charger for my Model 3 Performance. The Tesla charger is proprietary and therefore useless to the parade of EV testers now coming to my door. Three years ago, I crawled to Ferndale in a Jaguar I-Pace to recharge (my wife trailing behind in her gas-powered Subaru if I didn’t make it). Sigh.
EVs are still a niche for customers with deep pockets.
If you have the coin for my $115,695 ($108,195 after the federal tax credit!) e-tron tester, it is a sensational metro commuter. ZAP! Squeeze the pedal onto Interstate 696 and merge effortlessly into traffic. ZOT! Stomp the pedal out of a Woodward stoplight and leave muscle cars behind. WHIRRRRR! Creep silently into the American Speed Festival parking lot at M1 Concourse’s Checkered Flag Charity event, and heads swiveled to follow the GT’s supermodel-on-wheels figure.
Well, maybe not the face. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Audi’s black-masked face is not as engaging as the Porsche with its unique tear-drop headlights. Without the e-tron’s four rings, the face could be mistaken for the love child of a Dodge Charger and an Audi A5.
The tapered roof and beautifully sculpted tail — anchored by Audi’s direction-arrow-taillights — is what makes this GT stand out from the masses.
The interior will be familiar to Audi customers — just as the Taycan resembles the Porsche family — an indication of the brand’s determination to make the EV experience comfortable, not a leap into the unknown. The interior sits under a Tesla-like full-cabin sunroof that adapts to sunlight overhead. A nifty chiclet shifter negotiates the two-speed automatic transmission.
Otherwise the instrument and infotainment displays are vintage Audi, with haptic touch commands and striking Google Earth navigation displays.
The challenge for Audi buyers is how it stacks up to other vehicles in the showroom. There are a lot of sweets in this candy shop.
My friends Caroline and Jim recently downsized to an RS5 from a RS7 Sportback. Caroline giggled as she squeezed the pedal on Woodard, the e-tron exploding forward as if launching to space. Thrust is similar to the RS7 but without the audio accompaniment of a twin-turbo V-8.
The distant scream of the twin electric motors don’t do justice to the jaw-dropping speed.
Jim allowed how the instant torque made e-tron feel like the quickest Audi he’d driven. A family man, he’s uninterested in the $110,000 Audi R8. But even as his Audi RS5 Sportback tops the A5 range at a heady $68K, it is a loooong throw from the $115K e-tron.
They are the same size, but e-tron does not have the RS5’s handier hatchback utility. Perhaps Audi had to conform to the Taycan’s trunk design to produce two sedans off the same platform.
The e-tron, in other words, is a tease to A5 owners until/if EV prices drop in half (consider the $40K Chevy Bolt vs. the similarly sized Chevy Trax — not even the proposed $12,500 federal subsidy will get you there). Especially since, at 238 miles of range, it is not an easy long-distance car.
Caroline and Jim travel frequently, and they aren’t interested in spending extended periods charging in Meijer parking lots. They, like a lot of electric owners, would use the e-tron as a daily commuter. To attend baseball games — or Iron Man movies. If that isn’t entertainment enough, there is 469 horsepower on tap. ZAP!
Pair the e-tron GT with a gas-powered Audi SQ5 (that can fill up its 500-mile range in five minutes) and you have the ideal two-car garage. Just remember to plug your GT into the Juicebox.
2021 Audi e-tron GT
Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan
Price: $103,445 including $1,045 destination fee ($115,695 Premium Plus as tested)
Powerplant: 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery with twin electric-motor drive
Power: 496 horsepower (522 in Boost mode), 464 pound-feet torque
Transmission: Single-speed direct drive/front axle and two-speed/rear axle
Performance: 0-60 mph, 3.9 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 152 mph
Weight: 5,060 pounds
Fuel economy: EPA MPGe 82 city/98 highway; range, 238 miles
Highs: Awesome acceleration; lovely profile
Lows: Challenge to charge beyond home charger; oh, that face
Overall: 3 stars