2021 Audi e-tron GT Tech Highlights: Deets on Audi’s Taycan Twin

The 2021 Audi e-tron GT and Audi RS e-tron GT are expected to roll out in the middle of next year, and we expect details to dribble out between now and then, starting with a tech talk Audi held this week that divulged a few new tidbits. The brief virtual first look event focused primarily on the hotter RS variant, which it claims will be “the strongest car Audi has ever built.” Expect this model to align more closely with the Porsche Taycan Turbo, while the base e-tron GT more closely matches the base Taycan. Here’s what we know so far on how Audi and Porsche will differentiate their variants of the VW Group’s J1 Performance electric architecture.

Audi e-tron GT Motors

A graphic was shown indicating front and rear motors rated at 175 and 335 kW (235 and 449 SAE hp respectively). That sums to 684 hp, but this combined output figure was immediately contradicted by a slide indicating “Power output: 440-598 PS; Power Output with Overboost: 646 PS.” Those figures translate to 434-590 SAE hp; 637 with overboost. A single torque spec was shared: 830 Nm, which computes to 612 lb-ft. Final calibration is said to be incomplete, but we can probably look to the wide range of available powers and torques offered in Porsche’s Taycan for guidance.

To save you the Googling, the Taycan 4S makes 429 hp/472 lb-ft unless you specify the Performance+ battery, in which case output jumps to 482 hp/479 lb-ft—unless you engage launch control, in which case the base battery can produce 522 hp while the perf+ one can muster 562 horses. The Taycan Turbo produces 616 hp/626 lb-ft while the Turbo S produces 616 hp/774 lb-ft. Engage launch control, however, and you unleash 670 horses on the Turbo or 750 in the Turbo S. Don’t expect Audi’s GT to threaten those headline-grabbing specs.

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Drive Units

As on the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron GT’s front motor will drive the front wheels directly with a single-speed reduction gear. The rear will feature a planetary two-speed transmission to enable both the efficient torque multiplication necessary to achieve the claimed 3.5-second 0-62-mph acceleration, and the high-speed gearing required to enable efficient operation at autobahn speeds (the RS e-tron GT’s claimed top speed is 155 mph). The transmission features two clutches that manage the handoff from one gear to the other and can also decouple the rear motor entirely for more efficient cruising on the front motor alone. (Both motors feature permanent-magnet technology, which means that when they’re not being powered, spinning them generates electricity and potentially unwanted drag unless you decouple them completely.)

Battery Pack/Range

The only battery specification Audi shared is the gross capacity, 93.4 kWh, which matches the top-spec battery option on the Taycan, but don’t be shocked if the Porsche’s lower-spec 79.2-kWh battery eventually becomes available on a price-leader e-tron GT. Audi’s battery info slide acknowledged the 93.4-kWh number to be a gross figure, of which 83.7 kWh is the usable net energy available from the 396 pouch-type cells, arranged in 33 modules. A complex four-circuit cooling system involving nine different valves manages the heating and cooling of the battery pack, motors, and power electronics in such a way as to minimize energy loss. A heat-pump provides highly efficient climate control of the cabin.

Homologation and fuel efficiency testing within the various jurisdictions where the e-tron GT will be sold is still ongoing, but one probably shouldn’t expect numbers any greater than those achieved by the big battery in the Taycan, which is rated 203 miles in the 4S, 201 in the Turbo, and 192 miles in the Turbo S. DC Fast charging at 800 volts will also be available, with Audi claiming a top charging rate of 270 kW during the e-tron tech talk. That’s up marginally from the 250 kW Porsche has claimed for the Taycan in 2020, and likely both Audi and Porsche will align at the 350-kW charging Porsche has claimed it would roll out for the Taycan in 2021.

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Chassis

The bones are all J1 Performance Taycan, but tuned, we’re told, to give the e-tron GT a slicker, oilier, smoother Audi personality. A three-chamber air suspension provides the suspension’s key musculature, offering three different ride heights. Normal, normal plus 20mm for clearance, normal minus 10mm for dynamic driving, and normal minus 22mm for peak aerodynamic efficiency. Electromechanical rear-wheel steering will be offered on the e-tron GT as it is on the Taycan, steering up to 3 degrees in the opposite direction as the front wheels to tighten the turning radius at speeds below 30 mph, and in the same direction as the front wheels at higher speeds to smooth lane-changes and other actions. Braking options also mirror those of the Taycan, with iron discs as standard, the low-dust surface-coated intermediate braking package, and the full carbon-ceramic option at the top. Wheel choices also mirror the Porsche’s, with 19-inch rollers being the lightest option (at 27.6 pounds each), an intermediate 20-inch wheel serving as the most aerodynamic design, and a top 21-inch option offering the highest overall dynamic capability. A torque-vectoring Audi quattro sport differential will also be fitted to the rear of the RS e-tron GT.

Audi Unique Selling Propositions

Asked what the primary differentiators will be between the Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT, we were told that exterior styling and most important, interior ambiance will be the biggest differentiators. Laser lighting and an available carbon roof panel will also differentiate Audi’s offering. Finally, we would expect that Audi’s e-tron GT pricing will likely undercut that of the Porsche Taycan a bit, which could give it an edge in terms of value. Stay tuned for more info as we approach the e-tron GT’s mid-2021 launch date.

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