2022 Audi E-Tron GT Review: High-Voltage Fun With Some Sacrifices
Can a high-style, high-tech electric fun machine scrape together enough practicality for a week of kid-commuting?
From my two-year-old Jack’s perspective, the 2022 Audi E-Tron GT has it all: a banging sound system, an expansive glass roof, and the ability to make your insides go all squishy with a tap on the accelerator. Combine all of that with the near-silent in-cabin experience, and you’ve got an Audi that’s “cool” in a way even a child can understand (and summarize).
Jack is a picky kid. He doesn’t like it when the cuffs on his sweatpants ride up even a little onto his chubby calves. He gets pissed if his shirt isn’t pulled down perfectly straight over his back after he’s been strapped into his car seat. He has steadfastly refused every single ounce of banana that I’ve offered him to eat in his life to date (although he apparently has no problem eating them for Ms. Caroline at daycare). And, of course, he’s got his own unwavering, yet inexplicable rationale for deciding which car he’d rather ride in when we go anywhere.
Typically, his choices are limited to the two daily drivers in our household: my wife’s 2016 Audi Q5 or my 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS550. What does a toddler like about either car? Mama’s car has a glass roof through which he can see the sky, trees, airplanes, et cetera (and I suspect she beeps the horn more regularly). While Dada listens to a lot of funny Johnny Cash songs, has Rainbow Connection and Rockin’ Robin (the Jackson 5 version) on speed dial, and will respond almost instantly to requests like, “Now let’s go fast!”
But during the week that I had the E-Tron GT, it was all, “Dada, let’s take the quiet car.”
2022 Audi E-Tron GT: By the Numbers
- Base price (as tested): $100,945 ($118,740)
- Powertrain: 93.4-kWh battery | dual-motor | 1-speed front transmission, 2-speed rear transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 469 (522 in boost mode)
- Torque: 464 lb-ft (472 in boost mode)
- Curb weight: 5,060 pounds
- Seating capacity: 5
- Cargo volume: 11 cubic feet combined (1.8 front | 9.2 rear)
- 0-60: 3.9 seconds (est.)
- EPA-estimated range: 238 miles
- Charge speeds: AC 9.6 kW: 10.5 hours from zero to 100 percent charge | DC 350 kW, 20 min from five to 80 percent charge
- Efficiency: 81 mpge city | 83 highway | 82 combined
- Quick take: Flashy, fast, and futuristic, at the expense of some real-world practicality.
Jack doesn’t understand that $118,740 can buy other, perhaps even cooler cars, that the E-Tron isn’t class-leading in the EV master stat of range, or see that this package lacks day-to-day practicality where space for people and things are concerned. He neither knows nor cares that the E-Tron GT (and its quicker RS counterpart) top the current Audi EV range, along with the E-Tron SUV and Sportback. Jack certainly isn’t aware that this Audi shares the Porsche-developed J1 EV platform with the critically acclaimed Taycan family (Stef loved it). Guys, he can’t even read.
But even a baby can see that this GT is a special car with undeniable appeal.
First, that appeal. There’s little consensus amongst reviewers and car wonks about the exterior design of the E-Tron GT, with its gloss black grille being a particular challenge to some aesthetic sensibilities. But the Man on the Street seems a lot less burdened by the details; around Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live, the car was an absolute neck-breaker. I was chased down in the parking lot by a college kid with a dozen questions. I saw waves and finger-points by a couple of Audi drivers on the streets around my neighborhood. And I was roped into a long conversation about the E-Tron, electric cars overall, the conspiracy around “climate change,” and an anti-vaxxing diatribe by a Ford line worker-turned farmer who drove up to our photoshoot location.
Suffice it to say, the E-Tron GT looks like a special thing. Moreover, if you can forgive the bulbous nose—which really does come off like a drunk uncle in a ski mask, at least from low angles—the rest of the design is elegant. I love the way the exaggerated rear fenders taper out into a slim “waist” at the middle of the bodyside, and the striking graphic of the full-wrap rear tail lights. Of course, I’m the aforementioned owner of a white Mercedes CLS, so I might be more inclined than most to like a low, fast-looking grand tourer.
Trimmed in Monaco Gray leather with a swath of matte carbon fiber across the console, the E-Tron GT interior is at once techy and understated. “Boring” would be a less charitable way of saying it; certainly, there’s flash to be found in competitors like the Mercedes EQS that make the confines of the Audi downright dour.
But the demure interior is very well suited as a place to get down to the business of driving. The optional 18-way power front seats were accommodating to a very tall (6’ 5”) driver like myself, with the adjustable thigh bolsters proving especially clutch for leg support and long-range comfort. (There’s nothing that bugs me more than a short seat cushion and my whole stupid ass precariously perched for hours of wheel time.)
I’ve always appreciated Audi’s thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheels, too. The E-Tron’s example is not only great to wrap your hands around, but its wide-open top section provides a perfect view of the Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, from seemingly every angle. Better yet, the simple-to-use thumb dials on the wheel make navigating infotainment menus and changing the stereo volume a snap. (A relief, as the weird audio control just in front of the cupholders is fiddly to use, and almost constantly blocked by my iced coffee.)
From either of the front seats, then, driving or riding in the E-Tron GT is a lovely experience. The same can’t be said for the rear-seat occupants (especially if the driver is a giant like me). The sloping roofline curtails headroom in the rear, and the 32.2 inches of legroom isn’t overwhelming, either, when you consider the sedan measures almost 200 inches long overall. Hell, it’s considerably easier to put the toddler in his seat in my CLS—notorious when new for its cramped rear seats—than to pretzel him into place in the Audi. An impressive electric car, but not a family hauler, it seems.
On that note, I’ll just say that the total of 11 cubic feet of storage, split between the front and rear trunks, is absurd. Tesla’s Model S always seemed light in the storage department, and even it offers 15 cubic feet. The aforementioned EQS doubles up the Audi with a single, 22 cubic-foot trunk. Is it possible that I’m over-indexing on storage because I have a very large two-kid stroller to lug around? Yes. Yet is it nice to at least think about putting four people and their luggage in your fancy GT car? Also yes.
But leave the kids, the car seats, the luggage, and the bitching at home, point this evocative Audi at your favorite stretch of driving roads, and the E-Tron GT’s point of being snaps into focus. With its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive, 93.4-kWh battery, 522-peak-horsepower (469 hp when not in boost mode) powertrain, the E-Tron GT is massively quick, everywhere. Of course one almost expects to get chest-thumped by full-power EV acceleration these days—and the Audi doesn’t disappoint on that front—but the car also connects up corners on a tight, curved road with startling capacity.
The steering is a smidge too light and feel-free, even in Dynamic Mode, but in every other respect, this E-Tron is a willing partner on a great road. The combination of rapid turn-in response—augmented by the rear-wheel steering of up to 2.8 degrees—and the punch of torque to all four wheels was addicting. And the lack of roll through the body or four-corner air suspension had me questioning the specified 5,060-pound curb weight. My test car was equipped with the optional e-torque vectoring system as well, which likely influenced the velvety power delivery on a corner exit.
Now, the part of me fed by the sound of a special sporting car isn’t ever going to be completely satisfied by this “quiet” Audi EV sports sedan. (I know Audi has augmented the car’s sonic profile with a manufactured sound that my photographer described as “Darth Vader’s TIE fighter,” but you don’t hear it much from the cabin.) ICE-powered cars vibrate a lot, even the very refined ones. And the bigger the engine, the more performance-oriented the vehicle, the louder the exhaust, the more they tend to vibrate our eardrums and our bodies in thrilling ways. Losing that sensation means losing a little bit of connectedness to the car, which in turn means that, even when I’m flying over my favorite shakedown roads at exotic car velocities, I’m just not getting as emotional about it as I would in, say, an R8. Just as fast, less fun.
This may sound silly, but the phenomenal (and optional) Bang & Olufsen stereo system was able to fill in the emotional gap here… at least a little. In lieu of an exhaust crack with an aggressive downshift, loading up something like “Turn It Out” by Death From Above 1979 does a great job of reminding you to, you know, put your fucking foot down. I’m no Baby Driver, but I at least sniffed the potential of turning the radio up, not off, as my driving focus increased.
With the stereo cranked and the road rolling out in front like a come-on to a speeding ticket, it’s easy to live the E-Tron GT life almost ignorant of the rapidly decreasing digits describing one’s estimated battery charge remaining. EPA estimates indicate you’ll get 238 miles of range on a full charge (the test car was delivered with damn-near that indicated, probably having topped off at one of the many charge points within two miles of my house). For my current driving cycle, that amount of range out of the 94.4-kWh (83.7-kWh usable) battery pack is completely acceptable.
A Quick Range Rant
I work from home. My kids go to daycare about two miles from my house. And unless I’m out in the country pretending to be a handsome, thin getaway driver (in my driving fantasies I hit the gym regularly), my daily need to discharge electrons is easily recouped in the 20 minutes Audi estimates it takes to fill the E-Tron GT’s battery up to 80 percent capacity at the remarkably quick 270-kW rate.
I don’t have a garage or any better way of charging at home than an extension cord plugged into the standard 9.6-kW mobile charge. And even that trickle of power (10.5 hours to full according to Audi) would be more than enough to keep me operational most weeks. The humiliation of plugging my six-figure electric car into a $17 extension cord, however…
I offer the same feedback to people complaining in the abstract about 200 miles of range not being enough as I do to those people who “need” to drive a full-size pickup truck because they own a boat or some shit: You’re almost certainly doing it wrong. Buying a vehicle with capacity that you use one percent of the time you drive it is absurd.
Yes, I know you like to drive to Florida with your grandkids some years, but that’s what rental cars are for. If you have the means to own a six-figure vehicle, this is surely a solvable problem, right? End rant.
Lots to Compete With
In a landscape rich with posh competitors, there’s no room for even the “base” E-Tron GT to be basic. The humblest Premium Plus trim nets you 20-inch wheels, 14-way adjustable seats, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel clad in Alcantara—all for the tidy sum of $100,945 after destination. Tossing in another $7,200 gets you up to the Prestige trim that the test car wore, and adds in a HUD, cool LED interior lighting, heated rear seats (useless for Jack who is confined to his baby seat), and the stirring B&O sound system.
The $6,000 Performance pack is your way into the e-torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering that so enhanced my backroads fun, and the carbon fiber (“Carbon Atlas” in Audi speak) interior trim, along with a host of other visual embellishments. Tick boxes for the full leather interior pack (which includes the RS wheel, seats, and headliner), custom paint, 21-inch wheels, et cetera, and you can get close to $130,000 without going full RS at $142,400. That’s a big spread, but one that tracks with sticker prices for other makers of premium, sporty or otherwise, life-affirming vehicles.
In real competitive terms, Audi is fighting to be part of the most interesting and expensive corner of the EV conversation with the E-Tron GT and its still-more-badass RS variant. The Tesla Model S Plaid (silly name, cool tech) gets 396 miles of range, almost halves the standard E-Tron GT’s zero to 60-mph time at two seconds, and costs about $130,000. The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic (sounds like DJ equipment) takes 4.1 seconds to clip 60, will go 340 miles between charges, and starts at roughly $120,000. Truth be told, if you can foot the bill, there’s not a bad choice on that lavish list.
Picking the E-Tron GT ultimately means less charging flexibility and chiefly for the benefits of a more compelling exterior design and a more driver-focused experience over the road. With little storage and a small back seat, I’m not sure who, exactly, finds this the perfect solution to their EV question. But cheating on practicality for compelling design is a time-honored tradition in the world of expensive cars; perhaps this is a mark of a maturing vehicle segment, then.
To Jack, today, this selection of impressive electrics are all just quiet cars that Dada can’t afford. But if my CLS is any indication of future depreciation, we should have no problem shopping in the E-Tron GT aisle of Craigslist when he’s about ready to drive. Progress.
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