WHAT has five seats, four-wheel drive, two motors and one seriously, deliriously electrified driver?
If you’re thinking Tesla Model S P100D, you’d be absolutely right – so much so, in fact, that Volkswagen Group luxury brand Audi wants a slice of that hi-po pie with the e-tron GT Concept.
Don’t worry, folks, that’s only a working title of the show car that stole the recent Los Angeles International Auto Show. Dimensionally within a whisker of the company’s slinky A7 Sportback at 4960mm long, 1960mm wide and 1380mm high, the as-yet unnamed production version will be pitched at progressive-minded consumers who crave performance and dynamic pleasure, while also needing the space, practicality, flexibility and ease that its lengthy 2900mm wheelbase allows.
To that end, even though this is actually the third model from Audi’s e-tron portfolio of all-electric vehicles after the family focused e-tron SUV and e-tron Sportback crossover, the e-tron GT Concept is the first developed by inhouse tuners Audi Sport. So, we’re talking serious sports sedan territory here.
For starters, the sleek electric Audi show car boasts a pair of electric motors (one per axle), delivering a total system power of 434kW to all four corners. Quattro, after all, is what a true Audi is all about. In contrast, the e-tron SUV could only muster 300kW on boost and 265Nm without it, while the e-tron Sportback managed 20kW more than the latter.
Result? How about 3.5 seconds to 100km/h, 12s to 200, and a V-max of an artificially limited 240km/h?
Between the motors is a full artillery of lithium-ion battery cells, packing 90kWh for over 400km of range between charges. With a leading 800-volt charging system, up to 80 per cent of it can be replenished in just 20 minutes using a supercharger outlet. Other options include a more traditional cable or wireless charge-pad. At extra cost to the owner, of course.
Note that Audi uses a Type 2 charging plug known as a CCS (Combined Charging System), which is also employed by other members of the Volkswagen Group, as well as BMW, Ford and Mercedes-Benz. CCS is not the same as Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger system, and thus not compatible.
Keeping the batteries charged on the move is a recuperative braking system that channels otherwise wasted kinetic energy into the battery pack when the driver de-throttles and coasts along, or applies the stoppers. Efficient!
As Audi Sport helped create the e-tron GT Concept, achieving excellent steering and handling characteristics were major goals, the company claims, so in comes a four-wheel-steering system, helped out by the low centre of gravity that the battery pack allows. Carbon-fibre is deployed in the roof and there are aluminium components galore. Porsche also lent its assistance during this car’s gestation.
On the aero front, air vents in the wheelarches and a large rear diffuser help cut the show-car’s drag coefficient and the wheels can channel air to cool the massive brakes.
Audi is famous for its beautiful interiors, and the e-tron GT Concept promises not to let the side down, with a crisply contemporary take on the brand’s latest twin-screen interfaces, taking in the Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation cluster as well as the multimedia, infotainment and multi-climate control systems. In typical Ingolstadt style, the touchscreen offers tactile feedback when pressed.
If you’re buying an electric vehicle and love the planet, you should dig the fact that the cabin is entirely vegan; synthetic leather is employed for the many various trim elements, the seats are upholstered in fabrics made from recycled fibres, microfibre is found on the headlining and window pillar sheathing, and the lush carpet is constructed from yarn previously used on fishing nets.
On a more practical front, the e-tron GT features heaps of storage with 450 litres of cargo capacity in the boot and 100L under the frunk, err bonnet.
Tempted? Don’t run out to your Audi dealer just yet, because this striking and exquisitely detailed Model S competitor is still some way off production, with one company source stating that it is unlikely to appear in Australia before 2021 at the earliest.
That’s the bad news – and the fact that it will most likely cost well north of $100K when it lands Down Under. The good news is that the cheaper e-tron SUV is locked in for an Australian launch during 2019, to take on Tesla’s Model X and recently released Jaguar I-Pace, as well as archrival Mercedes-Benz and its upcoming EQC. More on that soon, so watch this space.
That’s if you’re not willing to wait for the gorgeous e-tron GT Concept.