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Audi e-tron GT passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.

Audi e-tron GT passenger ride
Finding out a bit more about how the impending Audi e-tron GT EV looks, sounds and goes.
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Audi e-tron GT (passenger ride)

"Do you mind if I go fast?" says my amiable German driver, gesturing loosely with his hands at the apron of Munich airport tarmac in front of us. Stupid, stupid, stupid of me, but I almost instantly - and most definitely without thinking - reply: "Sure, go for it, I don't get scared in cars easily." I should have taken stock that this lovely Teutonic fellow, as pleasant an individual as he had proved to be up until this point, was the bloke who did the soundtrack of the Audi e-tron GT. And not, as you might expect, a development driver from within the halls of Audi Sport or similar.

He buries the throttle of the e-tron GT and we hurtle headlong at an angular Audi-branded building, in which we'd earlier had a one-hour presentation to tell us that the company will be constructing its new electric vehicle (EV) with fastidious care and attention to detail on the same line as the R8 supercar, making sure the panel gaps are just so and that the paintwork isn't orange peel; I mean, call me cynical, but 'German company makes seriously quality cars' is not in any way news and this e-tron 'craftsmanship' talk (it's still 85 per cent built by robots, so 'craftsrobotship', perhaps?) almost infers that Audi slings together vehicles like the A1 supermini without any due care and attention... when we all know fine well this isn't the case in the slightest.

Anyway, I digress. Back to our crazed tilting at Audi's shiny building in the e-tron GT. Mr Sound-Guy holds the throttle in for a long time, bringing with it that weird sensation of some invisible force playing Swingball with your pituitary gland that comes on when a mega-power EV delivers all of its torque in one tidal-force hit, and then he hurls the e-tron GT towards the assembled gaggle of Audi dignitaries and fellow hacks standing near the hangar doors of the edifice. What ensues is a vast amount of tyre-howling understeer, which he then proceeds to elicit from the EV for the rest of the short, demented passenger experience.

To be fair, this is not a failing of the e-tron GT and nor, really, is it Mr Sound-Guy's fault. He's been told to take the journalists out in Audi's prized new EV and show them a good time, and he's going to do it, no matter whether his skills behind the wheel of what is, when all's said and done, a circa-600hp machine are of an appropriate level. So we'll cut Audi some slack here: this is not a case of being able to employ that sly (and tired) petrolhead trope about Ingolstadt's engineers managing to put added understeer into things, nor is it a case of having to argue with yourself about the fact that something like a Q5 is somehow related to a Porsche Macan. In this case, the understeer was an entirely expected by-product of over-exuberant corner-entry speeds and a dusty surface, and even the finest automotive chassis in the world would have ploughed straight on with the same provocation.

But why mention the Audi Q5-Porsche Macan link? Well, for good reason: there's an Audi-Porsche tie-up going on here. The e-tron GT is not, as you might think, an SUV-shaped e-tron with which you might already be familiar, but is instead a large, grand four-door saloon that will take on the Tesla Model S and... yep, you guessed it, the Porsche Taycan. Because it is a Porsche Taycan underneath it all, same twin-e-motor arrangement and all-wheel-drive set-up and 800-volt architecture and everything. While the e-tron GT remains under camo-wrap ahead of its full aesthetic debut in late October 2020, and while even a heavily disguised car with bright-orange accents shows off the blockier, more aggressive styling of a modern Audi when compared to a Porsche, the roofline and the shape of the upper-rear glasshouse (in particular) betrays the Taycan DNA in the e-tron GT.

Because, beyond the mooted 'facts' that have already been speculated upon by the industry, knowing the e-tron's source material, we haven't got concrete details on the power output, charging times, speed, acceleration and driving range of the e-tron GT to give to you. We can say that Audi wants it to go more than 250 miles on a single charge and that it'll be quattro-enhanced (not your traditional 'quattro' set-up, of course), with something like 600hp on the cards for the 'regular' GT. Audi has confirmed that an e-tron GT RS is to make an appearance, which will probably be around 670hp and, yes, look at the Taycan Turbo S for more details on that.

We can tell you that the e-tron feels as blisteringly quick as you'd expect a grandiose, twin-motor EV to feel from the passenger seat, that it should be a good thing to drive if it handles anything like the majestic Taycan Turbo, and that Mr Sound-Guy and his pal have done sterling work in cooking up a 'voice' for the e-tron GT. It has a low, almost growling hum to it at idle, which it broadcasts from a front speaker to satisfy global pedestrian safety regulation. At higher speeds and in sportier modes, more noise comes from an externally mounted rear speaker, while inside the cabin the exterior notes are amplified by the in-car sound system. This is one area where the e-tron GT diversifies from the Taycan, because - while the Porsche amplifies its own e-motors' exertions in the passenger compartment when it is in its sportiest modes - the e-tron GT makes a different noise entirely. It's emphatically a digital noise, one that you'd know was being made by an EV if it drove past you and you were (for some weird reason) blindfolded (whatever you're into...), but it's a good noise, a menacing and eerie sci-fi soundtrack that we approve of.

So, until we (as an outlet) can see the e-tron GT in all its glory and then get to have a go in it behind the wheel ourselves, perhaps I'll conclude with this little piece of advice for Audi: Mr Sound-Guy is an affable and deeply talented bloke... at engineering digital noises, that is. Perhaps, though, you'd better not let him do the car-driving stuff in the future, eh?

Matt Robinson - 8 Oct 2020

2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.

2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.2020 Audi e-tron GT preview and passenger ride. Image by Audi AG.    - Audi road tests
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