25 October 2023

Audi e-tron GT review: Brian Byrne, Irish Car

The current TV advertisement for the Audi e-tron GT depicts a patently high-level executive woman driving it in a very smart business district, writes Brian Byrne. I wonder how many of the 170 people who bought this car in Ireland over the last two years fit into that demographic?

If there is a high proportion of women, it wouldn't surprise me. Because this electric car is a truly gorgeous one which they could very comfortably feel reflects their ambition and achievement. Unlike some other sporty cars, such as Ford's Mustang with its essentially macho ethos, there is something about the Audi's styling that transcends customer gender-stereotyping.

There's not much I could add with words to the styling which the pictures with this piece show off. Except perhaps to note the truly perfect visual aesthetic of the car's proportions. It is technically a 4-door saloon with full-size access to front and back that somehow manages to retain the classic lines of a 2-door coupe. Without compromising room for rear occupants. At almost five metres long it is a big car, but doesn't appear to be.

Particularly from a side view the e-tron GT offers an image that it wouldn't surprise if there was a powerful V12 under the long bonnet. Indeed, my neighbour commented on a deep 'engine' noise he could hear when I drove away. But that's artificial, Audi engineers' take on the legislative need for pedestrian-protecting sound from otherwise almost silent electric vehicles. In this instance, it's rather like the heavy throb of ET's spaceship taking him home.

Sitting into the car — and here's where my only issue was, that for lanky and no longer youthfully supple me, it was a tricky matter throughout my time with the GT — the ambience is a very good mix of modernity and tradition in the instruments and controls layout. One of the car's key competitors is the Tesla S, and there's simply no comparison between them in the interior style and trim quality. The Audi is a hands-down winner by the proverbial country 1.6km. I instantly felt at home once I got behind the wheel.

Visibility forward and to the side, despite the low stance of the car, is fine. Not so much through the rear window. But for manoeuvring in car parks, the computerised multiple camera angles viewed on the centre screen made it OK.

The e-tron GT is built on an EV-dedicated platform co-developed with Porsche, shared with that brand's Taycan. There are two electric motors, one on each axle, providing AWD and an outsize 637hp in total output. Should you accept the challenge, in safe circumstances, the car will reach 100km/h in 4.1s.

The range from the 84kWh battery is rated at around 425km, and that reflects how most owners will want to drive the car as well as the 2.2 tonnes total weight that the motors are trundling around. On my various drives, I was generally averaging 21kWh consumed per 100km, which is fairly in line most of the larger EVs out there. If you can find one, the e-tron GT's system can charge very fast indeed from an 800v DC unit.

Apart from the fun available with all that power, the sheer drivability of this Audi was quite a joy. I especially liked the steering which, though quite light, keeps the driver feeling very much spot on in control.

I'm fortunate to have driven and be still driving some quite high end cars, but I'm usually much more comfortable with something less expensive and more for the rest of us. That said, I left the e-tron GT back with much more reluctance than would be the case with other equally expensive road-going machines. But I had to. I couldn't afford to keep it.

PRICE: €120,193. WHAT I LIKED: The completeness of the experience.