Currently reading: Audi e-tron GT: the perfect electric drive
Think a modern all-electric car can’t be engaging to drive? Think again. Here’s how Audi’s sleek e-tron coupé is putting the spark into electric performance

When it comes to finding the UK’s perfect driving route, some say that Scotland offers the only answer. Others say the hills of the Brecon Beacons or the mountain roads of Snowdonia in Wales. But many forget the Pennines.

Boasting some of the finest flowing asphalt in the UK (and equally impressive views), these stunning roads which sweep their way across the scenic hills of England’s spine offer the perfect backdrop on which to simply enjoy the experience of driving.

That’s why we’ve brought the Audi e-tron GT quattro to the Pennines as part of our epic cross-UK 'Grand Tour'a quest to find out if Audi’s sleek all-electric four-door coupé can truly live up to the credentials of its GT badge.

One of the defining strands of that ‘gran turismo’ DNA is that any GT worth its salt should stir the soul when you head off the straight and narrow. But is that still possible in an all-electric age? Well, these roads are the perfect GT playground, so let’s find out.

Learn more about the Audi e-tron GT

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A smarter driver-focused interior

Skirting the Trough of Bowland, and heading past Ingleton, we make our way past the astonishing Ribblehead Viaduct on the smooth, flowing B6255.

It’s the perfect intro to the route ahead. And while our Audi e-tron GT quattro may boast a pair of whisper-quiet electric motors instead of a whistling twin-turbo V6, it’s already clear that every element of its design has been engineered to build on Audi’s 40 years of quattro DNA and iconic sporty driving character.

It all starts where it matters most: in the driver’s seat. Bucking the trend of using the opportunity offered by low-mounted battery packs to open up more space inside the car, Audi’s designers crafted a more traditional ‘monoposto’ concept for the interior of the Audi e-tron GT, evoking the brand’s most-inspiring performance models,


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Its sturdy central column extends through the cabin like a traditional transmission tunnel. The crisp high-definition screens of the 10.1-inch central MMI touch display and the 12.-3-inch all-digital Audi virtual cockpit are angled towards you, the driver, while the optional head-up display projects information so that it appears, virtually, about two metres ahead of the car. Combined with the wide windscreen, and the long low bonnet, it helps you focus even more clearly on the road ahead.

The low-mounted sports seats, swathed in a luxuriously tactile wool-like Cascade leather-free upholstery – made using recycled materials – felt plush and cosseting on the motorway. Up here in the Pennines, they help you feel hunkered down and truly connected with the car.

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Lightweight balanced chassis design

The substance of the Audi e-tron GT’s driving character lies in its chassis. Using a unique design which mounts the batteries low down to reduce the car’s centre of gravity, it also let Audi’s engineers push the wheels out to the corners, delivering a long wheelbase, a wide track and near-50:50 weight distribution.

Key structural elements of the Audi e-tron GT’s chassis are made from hot-formed ultra-high-strength steel for enhanced rigidity, but around 60 percent of the car’s body-in-white is made of aluminium to further reduce the car’s kerb weight.

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Under this aluminium skin, the Audi e-tron GT’s lightweight aluminium suspension works with precision-control dampers, while the optional advanced three-chamber adaptive air suspension can adjust the stiffness or suppleness of the ride in milliseconds.

It will even lower the height of the e-tron GT by up to 10mm at speeds above 56mph, further lowering the car’s centre of gravity for extra ground-hugging confidence. As a result, you feel truly planted as you flow from bend to bend. It’s grippy and precise, balanced and supple, while the steering is fast, accurate and responsive.

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An all-electric take on quattro all-wheel drive

As we head further north into the Pennines proper, the road gets steeper and more twisty. This is where you’d worry that an all-electric car doesn’t have the power to thrill. However, with up to 476PS and 640Nm of instantly deliverable electric torque in our Audi e-tron GT quattro, we’re never left wanting.

Audi’s pioneering quattro all-wheel drive – first developed in the white-hot crucible of the World Rally Championship in the 1980s – gets an all-electric twist on the Audi e-tron GT. The car’s two potent motors (one on the front axle; one on the rear) vary the flow of power and torque across the car for the best balance.

On the motorway that meant front-wheel drive for enhanced efficiency. Up here in the Pennines, the smart all-electric quattro sends more of its power to the rear axle for a more engaging driving feel. When appropriate, the system intelligently blends the best of both for confidence-inspiring all-wheel traction.

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Crucially, the shift to an all-electric drivetrain means it all happens five times faster than a conventional mechanical quattro.

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Responsive on the throttle

Compared with some EVs, which can feel very digital to drive, the Audi e-tron GT is impressively smooth, progressive and responsive on the throttle, but always with enough spark to get the hairs standing on the back of your neck.

Unlike conventional electric cars, the Audi e-tron GT has a two-speed transmission. The short first gear – with a ratio of 15.6:1 – only serves to enhance the Audi e-tron GT’s impressive acceleration, particularly from standstill. As a result, we can sweep from 0-62mph in as little as 4.1 seconds in the Audi e-tron GT quattro we’ve picked for our trip.

Working with the always-instantly-available electric torque delivered by the Audi e-tron GT’s potent electric motors, the longer second gear – with it 8.2:1 ratio – is more than versatile enough to balance flowing driving with long-range efficiency.

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Intelligent on the brakes

The beauty of the Audi e-tron GT’s powerful high-tech electric motors is that they also offer up to 0.3g of regenerative braking force, which is more than enough to cover most braking situations. Using the steering wheel paddles, you can choose exactly how much braking is done by the electric motors, leaving the conventional – albeit large and powerful – hydraulic brakes for the heavy stopping.

The heaviest regen setting is perfect for stop-start traffic in the heart of the city or on a snarled-up motorway. It’s not quite the ‘one-pedal’ drive you get with other EVs. If anything, it’s better: smoother; less intrusive; more intuitive. It also has the benefit of recapturing up to 265kW of power when both electric motors are used together,

Up here, though, on these flowing Pennine roads, where we want to flow seamlessly from bend to bend over hill and dale, we leave the regenerative braking in its lower settings. It’s a subtle enough yet powerful enough off-throttle effect to evoke that engaging ‘engine braking’ feel you might normally miss in an all-electric car.

And this is the secret to the Audi e-tron GT’s ‘gran turismo’ spirit. Audi’s engineers have ensured that all the strands of its driving DNA – its smooth and intoxicating power delivery, its weight distribution and balance, its responsive suspension, and its instantly adaptive quattro drivetrain – work seamlessly together, always empowering the driver, and never getting in the way.

There’s a reason why Autocar has called this one of the most engaging, captivating, and aspirational electric saloons on the market. It just feels effortlessly capable and inspiring, on every type of road.

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Changing the tone for all-electric driving

Finally, the Audi e-tron GT introduces a new soundtrack for electric performance. Using the optional e-tron Sport sound pack, you can switch between the ultra-quiet ‘Efficiency’ mode – which use the car’s exterior speakers to project a subtle tone that informs and warns nearby road users of the car’s presence during city or suburban driving – or a more vibrant ‘Comfort’ tone.

Flick to ‘Dynamic’ on the Audi Drive Select menu, though, and the full power of the engine tone is broadcast directly into the cabin using large speakers in the rear doors and two large external speakers at the front and rear of the car. Powerful, sporty and nuanced in equal measure, the synthetic tone rises and falls, ebbs and flows, based on the rotational speed of the electric motors, the accelerator position and the Audi e-tron GT’s speed.

On an amazing open road, it gives you all the feedback you need, and is the perfect acoustic expression of the Audi e-tron GT’s ‘gran turismo’ character.

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Want more?

When it comes to putting the spark back into electric driving, that’s just the start of what the Audi e-tron GT range has to offer. There’s an even more potent Audi RS e-tron GT model available, offering up to 598PS and 830Nm of torque as standard, with up to 646PS in the 2.5-second boost mode.

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The Audi RS e-tron GT’s rear-axle differential lock uses a fully variable multi-plate clutch to brake each wheel with greater precision – effectively a form of torque vectoring which improves both traction, the sharpness of the handling and cornering stability.

Then there’s the optional all-wheel steering, which turns the Audi e-tron GT’s rear wheels by up to 2.8 degrees – increasing the car’s agility with sharper turn-in at lower speeds, while enhancing your confidence in sweeping bends by adding an extra dash of stability.

So, the next time you’re looking for a more elevated amped-up driving experience, why not head to the Pennines? And why not take the Audi e-tron GT for good measure?

Learn more about the Audi e-tron GT

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