It only takes four or five of Milton Keynes’ 130 roundabouts to understand the Audi e-Tron GT quattro is a very different car to the Porsche Taycan.
Despite sharing the same bespoke electric J1 platform – developed jointly by Audi and Porsche – the second e-Tron seems to have more in common with its combustion-engined S7 stepsibling, than its electric twin from Stuttgart.
The e-Tron GT quattro we’re driving uses the same 350kW powertrain as the Taycan 4S, capable of 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds when in a 390kW boost mode.
But the Audi’s performance doesn’t arrive in bottomless servings like the Porsche’s, nor is it point-and-click like a Tesla.
Instead, the e-Tron GT’s power is progressive, its torque flat – and it makes the Audi effortlessly accumulate speed as opposed to gaining it instantly.
The same is largely true of the hotter RS model that sits above it; with 440kW and 475kW in Boost mode, it has similar performance on paper to the hotter Taycan Turbo, but delivers it in a less aggressive way. Our standard quattro car, has the better range of 475km to RS’s 450 though.
We’ll add impressions of the RS in due course, but here we’ll focus on the standard e-Tron GT quattro, as it’s arguably the more significant model and the one that's expected to be most popular.
Riding on air – optional in the quattro but standard in the RS – our test car was firm but well-mannered around town and pliable on B-roads. Motorways were equally quiet in the e-Tron GT; even in Dynamic mode, the Audi’s adaptive suspension soaked up bumps from expansion joints, choosing not to send them straight to the drivers’ seat.
The added comfort comes at the expense of outright handling, so body roll and dive – when you step on the optional tungsten carbide-coated steel brakes – does creep in. Empty the quattro’s power reserves on the exit of a corner, and you’ll also get the bonnet to rise a little, along with some sideways sway as Audi’s all-wheel-drive claws you down the road.
But the Audi’s vegan fibres only unravel when you’re driving in a very un-GT-like manner, and every aspect of the Audi’s analogue handling and feedback – including the supremely flickable all-wheel steering – encourages you to do otherwise. Where the Taycan pushes you to drive harder, the Audi asks you to be professional.
The e-Tron’s business-as-usual ethos continues to the exterior: Ingolstadt’s electric GT wears a Marc Lichte-tailored suit, and instead of looking like a Taycan at a court appearance, its unique design cues – from the Audi singleframe grille to the e-Tron light elements – move away from the Porsche’s sci-fi looks and add a dash of the familiar.
Inside, the e-Tron GT forgoes banks of haptic touchscreens, and strikes a reasonable compromise of proddable displays and real switchgear. The steering wheel could be from any Audi of the last five years, but it’ll help make the e-Tron GT feel less alien to early adopters.
By bravely focusing on true GT performance, Ingolstadt has diverted the e-Tron GT from an unexciting also-ran to a fascinating new addition to the Audi range.
The standard e-Tron quattro is the most compelling of the two; on paper it has the longer range and the lower price, and it add all the comfort you’d want from a GT – with the inherent benefits an EV powertrain brings.
The range-topping RS is more muddled. In a bid to be sportier but softer, it’s based on an unwinnable compromise, and leaves itself open to some unfavorable comparisons.
There’s a reason Audi believes the quattro will outsell the confused RS 4-to-1. With the e-Tron GT quattro, Audi has used new technology to cover old ground and It’s the most convincing EV it’s made so far.
Pros: ride; refinement; EV powertrain; charge speed
Cons: price currently unknown; little else
Body: 5-door, 5-seat hatchback
Battery: 93.4kWh (83.7kWh net)
Power: 350kW (390kW overboost)
Torque: 630Nm (640Nm overboost)
Tracks: 1710/1694mm (f/r)
Suspension: double-wishbones, adaptive dampers, air springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, adaptive dampers, air springs, anti-roll bar (r)
Wheels: 19 x 8.0-inch (f); 19 x 10.0-inch (r)
Tyres: 225/55 R19 (f); 275/45 R19 (r)
Price: $175,000 (estimate)
On-sale: H2 2021