Flagship of Audi’s new electric E-tron range will be the 582bhp GT, an A7-sized coupé
The Audi E-tron GT concept is “very close” in design to the production model arriving in 2020, according to the company’s design boss, Marc Lichte.
The four-door sports saloon, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, will be the third of Audi’s stand-alone electric models, following the already revealed E-tron and next year’s E-tron Sportback. A compact electric model is also due (see right). By 2025, Audi will have 12 electric models.
The sleek, A7-sized E-tron GT will be the flagship of Audi’s electric line-up, falling under the custody of the brand’s Audi Sport performance arm.
Its 582bhp output is sufficient to accelerate from zero to 62mph in 3.5sec and attain 149mph
It will offer 248 miles of range on the WLTP cycle and, most notably, will be capable of charging at 350kW. This will dramatically reduce charging times, meaning that an 80% fast charge can be achieved in under 20 minutes. Currently, a similar level of charge takes more than double that time.
For at-home charging, as well as using a traditional cable, Audi will offer a wireless charging option via an induction plate.
The GT’s two synchronous motors – one at the front and one at the rear – produce a collective 582bhp power output. This is sufficient to accelerate from zero to 62mph in 3.5sec and attain a top speed of 149mph. Torque is transferred to the wheels via the quattro permanent all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.
“The acceleration isn’t important. It’s being able to reproduce that acceleration five, six, seven times,” said Audi Sport product marketing boss Stefan Holischka, alluding to some electric performance cars on the market that struggle to replicate acceleration times more than once due to battery limitations.
The GT’s 96kWh battery takes up the entire underfloor area between the two axles, giving the GT a centre of gravity comparable with that of the Audi R8. There is also all-wheel steering, all of which creates “sports-car-like agility and precision”, said Audi.
“The 96kWh battery is the perfect combination for performance, charging time and range,” said Holischka.
The E-tron GT uses the same J1 platform as the upcoming Porsche Taycan, which employs a flat battery, suitable for a low-sitting performance car.
When asked about other similarities between the two cars, Holischka said: “The Taycan will be a different character. We’ve tried to differentiate as much as possible. The [Porsche and Audi] designers were in close contact all the time.”
The body is made from a mixture of aluminium, high-strength steel and carbonfibre.
Lichte said the E-tron GT has a number of design elements to improve its aerodynamics. It has a dynamic spoiler that can be moved depending on whether a driver wants to focus on performance or economy. There are two front air curtains for the Audi Sport model, as well as specially designed wheels for better aero.
Talking about the broader design, Lichte said: “In the past, we did expressive design on the bonnet to accentuate the engine. Now we highlight the sill where the battery sits.”
Inside, the GT has a strongly 3D dashboard, which has a touchscreen integrated, that when not being used blends into the dash.
The steering wheel is flat at the top and bottom. Whereas a flat-bottom wheel is used in existing RS models, a wheel with a flat top and bottom will appear in future electric RS cars only.
The E-tron GT uses vegan materials as an alternative to leather. There is synthetic leather on seats and fabrics from recycled fibres on seat cushions. The floor mats are made from used fishing nets.
There are two storage compartments, a 450-litre boot (equivalent to an Audi A4’s) and another 100 litres under the bonnet.
The car will be built at Böllinger Höfe, Germany, where the R8 is made. Pricing is likely to be close to £100,000.
Q&A MARC LICHTE, AUDI DESIGN CHIEF
What was the biggest challenge with this car?
“Packaging. The challenge is always the battery pack in the floor. This car is 138cm high. That’s lower than an A7. There is no compromise here. The E-tron GT is my biggest achievement so far.”
How important is the E-tron GT for Audi’s broader design?
“Every three years, we have a step [change] in design. The latest one was last year with the A8. The next step will be this. This car is the next evolution in our design in 2020, both exterior
Tell us about the grille.
“For Audi, it would be a big mistake to remove the grille. So we said: why not invert it? It’s body colour. For me, it’s still an Audi but not with a combustion engine. This is the face of all our future EVs.”
Will the touch-glass door opening make production?
“They could be too expensive… Us designers love designing concepts without door handles. We present the design of every new car to the [Audi] board without handles!”
AUDI TO MAKE COMPACT ELECTRIC SUV
A concept version of Audi’s upcoming compact electric car will be revealed early next year and go on sale at a similar time to the E-tron GT.
Based on the MEB platform, a Volkswagen Group-wide architecture being used for VW’s ID range of EVs, the zero-emission model will be an SUV sized between the Q2 and Q3.
Some design cues of the E-tron GT, such as the shoulder line, inverted grille and air intakes, are the same for the SUV, said Audi design boss Marc Lichte.