Audi e-tron GT quattro – long-term review - Report No:6 2023 | Top Gear
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Long-term review

Audi e-tron GT quattro – long-term review

£106,950 / £107,080 as tested / £1,313PCM
Published: 04 Nov 2021

After six months, it's goodbye Audi e-tron GT

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the e-tron GT recently. Not simply because it’s now left and I needed to, but because I actually think I enjoyed running it more than the RS6 I had last year. And the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced…

It’s all to do with fitness for purpose. How well a car does the job it was designed to do. The RS6 did the comfort and space stuff well, but never properly gripped me as a driver’s car. The e-tron GT is obviously pitched differently, but it nails the brief.

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‘Ah, but what is that brief?’, I hear you say. And my answer is ‘I’m not sure, but it’s very good at it’.

Anyway, here goes. The template is the one laid down by the Mercedes CLS about 15 years back and reads ‘executive saloon with style’ or something equally trite that conjures up images of besuited catalogue models walking into glassy skyscrapers. What the e-tron GT doesn’t attempt, and I think this is key to its appeal, is any pretence at sportiness. The RS e-tron GT does, and is weaker for it, but this is more laid back, more GT-ish.

And from the rear three quarter, it is very good-looking. I only have two issues with the face it presents to the world: the nose looks like it’s spent too long in a glass of red wine and the wheels are crap. The Taycan is less bulbous up front and has much better rims. But is also trying to convince you (as is the RS e-tron GT) it’s a blast to drive, when in fact it’s just effective, satisfying and capable. It falls down in the same place as every other electric sports car: all the thrill of the powertrain is missing.

The e-tron GT embraces what is excellent about electric and makes a virtue of it. It is a blissful GT. It rides softly and gently, it’s silent and smooth, it wafts and whisks. And as my daily driver that’s what I wanted. It steered and moved precisely enough, responded proportionately, had more than enough poke. I would have liked low speed ride control to be a bit better to stop that long nose scuffing on the descent from every speedbump, instead I had to hit Dynamic mode every time I went into town to tauten the suspension.

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I did the same when I got on a good road, to improve body control and give the steering more weight. On track was where it surprised me most, proving to have way better chassis balance than I’d expected. But I’d still never choose it over anything smaller, lighter or nimble for track or road fun. No, what I admired most about the e-tron GT was its calm nature.

90 per cent of recharging was done at home, my Pod Point app telling me exactly how much charge had been inserted. Away from home it was more ragged and frustrating. Twice, I could – should – have used it for long trips to Wales and Scotland, but knew it would be a massive hassle, so took an ICE car instead.

When timings were less fraught I did do several long trips in the e-tron GT, but recharging was never flawless (not only the technical side of hooking up, I only got it to recharge at a max of 140kW on when 270kW is claimed), which meant you hedged your bets next time, stopping sooner, not indulging the last 50 miles. Range and efficiency improved markedly during warmer weather, rising from 2.4mpkWh to 2.9. Treated gently, I got a best of 3.3.

Driving like an ICE car I got 220 miles range, but the thing about all electric cars is that they put you in a different mindset. So I drove that bit slower, anticipated traffic further ahead, used the aircon in Eco mode, tried never to engage the wheel brakes. Which meant 260 miles. And the knowledge that slowing down was harnessing energy, rather than releasing heat and particles, is a particularly pleasing one.

I would have liked more aggressive regen braking on lift off – a full one-pedal mode. Instead, pulling a paddle adds a little deceleration. This is Porsche’s architecture don’t forget, and Porsche believes braking should be done by pressing a pedal, not releasing one. The only bit that caught me out was coming to a complete stop, the Audi seeming to surf through the last few mph, threatening to rear end whatever was in front.

Two teenagers slotted happily in the back and with a bit of jiggling the load through allowed me to carry a pair of 2.4 metre Ikea doors (not at the same time as the kids…). The front boot I barely ever used. The cables lived in there, but I almost never needed them. It’s a good four seater, but the low ceiling makes it slightly oppressive inside, even with the full glass roof.

The cabin I found generic. Yes, you have separate controls for heating so aren’t forced to do absolutely everything through the screen, but the Taycan is more bespoke and interesting indoors. This has plenty in common with an A4, Q5 or RS6. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s just a bit uninteresting.

Running costs have been low, the little fixes were done under warranty, road tax is zero, and recharging has cost me around £100 a month at home to do easily over 1000 miles – equivalent to a petrol doing 65mpg. Ownership costs are high. You don’t need a fully laden GT like this. I reckon about a few thousand in options is all you need, which means monthly repayments of around the £950 mark rather than £1,300. Have the LED Matrix lights, the Comfort and Sound pack, maybe the leather-free interior.

As I wrote a couple of months back I’ve had some issues. The physical ones (rattling door speak and loose rubber seal) were easily fixed, so too the ones that irked me most – the refusal to run CarPlay reliably and the misfiring app connection. All sorted under warranty. But Audi’s technicians couldn’t replicate the occasional gearbox clonk and scattergun matrix LED behaviour. Neither has caused a problem since, so I’ve got to assume the digital reboot worked.

Overall the e-tron GT epitomised what an electric car should be for me. It treads softly, acts calmly, drives with authority. It’s swift if you want it to be (we timed it to 60mph in 3.9secs, 100mph in 8.5secs), but that’s not what it’s about. It’s a long range cruiser, effortless and sophisticated. It does that job better than anything this side of a Bentley Conti GT. All it needs is the charging network to catch up and there’s almost nothing I’d rather drive a long way.

To me this is where electric scores, where excess weight and loss of sound are benefits, not drawbacks. That said, the best drive I had in the e-tron GT was with the family on board, back across Exmoor one perfect evening. We’d just eaten platefuls of pub grub, and were glowing after a day of walking and biking. The Audi didn’t intrude on our evening, but it played the music we wanted immaculately through the B&O system, smothered the broken surfaces and whisked us home without apparent effort.

And that has been the story of life with the e-tron GT, it’s slotted in brilliantly, performed admirably, I liked having it around, it made me feel good and my driveway is a poorer place now it’s gone.

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