"Listen to the sounds from the speakers in Dynamic,” says Audi sound engineer Stephan Gsell as he switches the Ingolstadt brand’s first electric sports saloon into its most aggressive drive mode and pins the throttle to the floor.
To be honest, it’s hard to keep your focus on the synthesised ‘engine note’ as your innards are thrust into the seatback with the kind of relentless ferocity only a seriously potent EV can deliver.
But that’s what this taster of the new E-tron GT’s moving capabilities is all about. Although the pandemic hasn’t interfered greatly with the car’s development, it has upset any plans for a glitzy unveiling after next month’s Los Angeles motor show was cancelled for obvious reasons.
Instead, we’ll be drip fed experiences of the car and this is the first - a passenger ride of what is (bar some tuning and calibration) the finished item. Albeit one lightly disguised behind a funky camouflage. Strangely, we’re not even able to fully show you the camouflaged car in all its glory. There'll be a separate unveiling of that at the end of the month. Rules are rules.
Clearly, though, if Audi is dragging a bunch of journalists to Germany to listen to some speaker sounds, it’s an important part of the E-tron GT’s development. Gsell himself, as part of a small team of musicians and engineers, has been experimenting with augmented EV soundtracks for the best part of half a decade.
A lot of this is driven by regulations that state an EV must emit some form of noise in lower-speed ranges to ensure it isn’t a menace to pedestrians. These are pretty strict in Europe, with every electric car required to have a front speaker outputting sound between 3mph and 12mph, and a rear speaker for reversing. In the US, it’s even stricter: EVs must even emit sounds when they’re stationary and turned on. But few car makers want some anodyne beep or hum, it seems.