By Kap Maceda Aguila
IT’S A BIG DEAL when you say that an electric car is a beautiful car.
After all, the electrification of vehicles has traditionally been seen as a revolutionary/pragmatic (if environmentally conscious) thrust in the history of automobiles rather than one confined to aesthetics and even emotion. For now, at least, when talk shifts to looks and the pure joy of traversing the open road, you’d probably look elsewhere than into a tailpipe-less electric. The satisfyingly loud “brraaaap” of a fire-breathing, multi-liter displacement engine is still the automotive dream of many — and will perceivably remain so before the ICE croaks.
Until they get behind the wheel of Audi e-tron GT, that is. But wait, an electric grand tourer seems like a misnomer because a GT suggests virtues that electric vehicles are not supposed to have — speed and range. Right?
Audi clearly didn’t get the memo (okay, e-mail).
In the e-tron GT, Audi funnels the fun and excitement of its DNA and distills it so you forget that you’re driving an electric. At first glance, you know that the e-tron GT is primarily built for speed, unlike the more utilitarian ethos its e-tron SUV sibling assumes. The flatter, wedgy profile is set off by an Audi Singleframe grill in Hekla Gray — which hints at its electrified nature because of a lack of venting. This automobile showcases wide tracks, large 20-inch cast aluminum shoes, and a flat roofline. Like that motoring cliché we laugh at goes: Even at rest, it looks fast.
Proprietary high-tech Matrix LED headlamps feature Audi laser light and dynamic turn signals. Audi, after all, has been known for pioneering lighting advancements. Audi laser light essentially “doubles the range of high-beam lights,” employing a small laser module that produces a “light cone,” extending a spotlight over several hundred meters. Another interesting feature I discover while driving in the dark is that the e-tron GT confines its front lighting directly ahead of the car when the system senses oncoming vehicles. How polite can you get? The tech extends to the rear illumination, which employs LEDs and a lighting scheme (as in the front), and dynamic turn lamps.
On either side of the vehicle resides a charging port, with the e-tron GT using the CCS charging standard. This consists of AC and DC inputs. The upper portion accommodates a Type 2 connector (for charging at home or at slow/fast AC points). A dual port below it enables rapid recharging on high-capacity DC charge points.
Two electric motors (one on each axle) power the automobile’s quattro all-wheel drive system. Speaking of power, it has 530 horses on tap, to go with a stout 630Nm. The figure you need to particularly look at though is the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure)-confirmed range of 500 kilometers.
Before I borrowed an e-tron GT from exclusive local distributor PGA Cars, I asked if I could drive it to Clark, Pampanga from our home in Quezon City. Aside from being considerate of the odometer (it’s someone else’s car, after all), I was also genuinely curious and concerned if it could make the 200-kilometer-long back and forth (including the predicted congestion) from there without so much as a sniff of a charge.
Yes, I was told promptly. Please go and test it out.
* * *
Even as it is still blanketed by darkness, the North Luzon Expressway is slowly being lit up by a sun starting peak on the horizon to our right. It’s pretty quiet on this early morning drive — so quiet, in fact, that we don’t even notice the speed registered on the instrument cluster. The e-tron GT sprints to 100kph from standstill 4.1 seconds (by Audi’s own reckoning) — a figure I don’t doubt — but its sprightliness and response when you have the vehicle moving at speed is equally as impressive. Stepping on the throttle gives more velocity on demand.
And it’s an Audi, so why should it be bereft of the brand’s trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system? An electric motor on each axle “ensures maximum dynamism, stability and traction in any condition, thanks to its ability to constantly vary power distribution” between them.
At triple-digit speed, the e-tron GT remains stable and unflappable, absorbing road imperfections so that you don’t have to. Audi shaves off weight like the sports car that it is through an all-aluminum outer shell.
In aid of stability and safety at speed, the e-tron GT gets controllable air inlets to cool the front brakes. A rear spoiler can extend to two positions, depending on need. Out of sight, the e-tron GT receives a fully paneled underbody which flows into a large diffuser.
Even when driving in Comfort mode (a more energy-efficient choice versus the more aggressive and exciting Dynamic mode), there’s plenty of power and torque for spirited performance. In case you’re wondering, engaging Dynamic mode supplies more power to the rear wheels; an Efficiency mode prioritizes front-wheel drive.
Keeping an eye on the battery charge level of a modern EV is not like having to check on your cellphone. Your mobile device will inevitably discharge when it’s not connected to a charger. EVs like the e-tron GT have the means to regain charge while operating. When your foot isn’t on the throttle, the vehicle can recuperate kinetic energy and convert this into electricity. This user-adjustable “engine brake” of sorts can be tailored as the driver wishes to account for changing situations or terrain.
The cabin of the e-tron GT is surprisingly roomy and comfortable, unlike traditional sports cars. It may be a cliché, but to say that the car boasts the best of both worlds is most accurate. Its seats are well-bolstered, with both front seats getting power-adjust controls. The multi-function steering wheel matches the sporty intentions with a three-spoke, flat-bottomed design; it gets shift paddles, too. In addition to space for its passengers, the car also boasts a trunk that can accommodate 405 liters of luggage, in addition to 81 liters more under the hood.
Of course, the vehicle features the latest version of Audi’s all-digital Virtual Cockpit and MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch Response. Your content will find expression in an excellent-sounding Bang & Olufsen with 3D sound capability. Just to round out the interior amenities, the Ingolstadt-headquartered car maker throws in Ambient LED Interior Lighting Package Plus and an Air Quality Package.
Sure, it has all the bells and whistles (and more) you’d expect an Audi to have, but we have to address the elephant in the room, right? Are we truly ready for electric — particularly in light of a lack of a practicable EV charging infrastructure? PGA Cars, which also distributes and takes care of the Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche brands here, says yes. According to its studies, up to 90% of EV owners do their charging at home. And with the aforementioned range of the e-tron GT, would you even remotely experience range anxiety on your daily drive?
To this point: After a weekend of travel, logging 223 actual kilometers, the e-tron GT and its recuperative technology yielded an actual net drain of only 192 kilometers. I must reiterate that I wasn’t even applying hypermiling techniques to conserve battery charge and to maximize recharging potential. The A/C stayed on all the time (it was a hot and humid weekend), and the music was on as well.
To be sure, the establishment of a comprehensive charging network is a big leap toward our electric aspirations in mobility; same thing with the enactment of more favorable and friendly government policies in acquisition and ownership.
Having said that, The best EVs are those which allow you to integrate them into your life most seamlessly, and do not entail a big change in your habits. Isn’t technology supposed to adapt to our lifestyle, and not the other way around?
The Audi e-tron GT quattro is evidence, a good-looking one, of the former — and is a truly electrifyingly exciting sign of, not the future, but (as PGA Cars puts it) now.