New electric 2021 Audi e-tron GT spied at the Nurburgring

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Audi e tron GT 8Our spy photographers have spotted the new Audi e-tron GT undergoing handling assessment at the Nurburgring ahead of its official launch date later this year.

When it goes on sale, the e-tron GT will join a growing marketplace of pure-electric flagship saloons, acting as a rival for the Tesla Model S and Mercedes EQS.

This Audi e-tron GT test mule is still clad in heavy camouflage – but we can make out some of its styling features. The finished product is expected to look almost identical to the concept model from the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, with only a handful of tweaks to help it meet current safety regulations.

Audi e tron GTSo, the front grille looks a little narrower than the concept’s, while its touch sensitive door openers will be replaced by conventional handles. The show car’s centre locking wheels will also be swapped for more user-friendly five-bolt units – but Audi has confirmed that, like the concept, the finished car will feature 22-inch alloys.

We expect the e-tron GT will be similar in length and width to the A7 Sportback – but it should be roughly 1,370mm tall. This will make it a full 50mm lower than the A7, despite the fact that it stores a battery pack on the floor of the platform.

Audi e tron GT 2This latest mule also shows the car’s retractable rear spoiler in its raised position – but this can be retracted to reduce drag, and therefore range, in low stress situations like motorway cruising. The active wing will work alongside a sleek underbody aero setup, which will be more efficient than any of Audi’s combustion cars due to the lack of an exhaust system.

The production model e-tron GT will be based heavily on the Porsche Taycan, with the former sharing around 60 percent of the latter’s componentry. The bulk of this parts-sharing will be found in the two cars’ powertrains – Audi could easily adopt the Taycan’s twin-motor setup, which would provide the e-tron GT with an output of between 390kW and 560kW.

Audi e tron GT 9Sending drive to all four wheels, Audi expects the e-tron GT to accelerate from 0–100km/h in around 3.5 seconds. A unique software configuration – along with Porsche’s fastidious approach to reliability – will also allow it to achieve such figures repeatedly, even when the battery isn’t fully charged.

Porsche’s 96kWh battery pack should also be carried onto the e-tron GT, meaning the saloon should be able to achieve an 80 percent charge in just 15–20 minutes, when plugged into a DC fast-charger. A one pedal driving function will also likely be available, thanks to a configurable regenerative braking system.

Audi e tron GT 3An advanced torque vectoring system – which is also likely pinched from Porsche’s parts catalogue – will allow Audi to control the e-tron GT’s bulk. Despite a kerb weight of around two tonnes, the EV’s low centre of gravity should ensure a handling balance akin to that of the Taycan.

This will be helped along by the location of battery pack and Audi’s decision to use carbon fibre for the e-tron GT’s roof and aluminium for its doors – keeping the weightier components lower in the car’s chassis and reducing the top-heavy pendulum effect that would have been created if the entire car was made from steel.

Speaking about the car at the 2018 LA Show, Marc Lichte, head of Audi design, was very excited to be involved with the e-tron. “It’s a dream to design a car like this.” says Lichte. “This is truly a design where the sketch becomes a reality.”

The electric design presents additional challenges, too. As Lichte explains: “Other noises like road and wind noise become much more obvious without an engine. For example, we’ve designed the side mirrors to channel the air along the door skins instead of the window glass, so wind noise is less.”

Like the outside, much of the concept’s interior design is likely to be carried over to the production e-tron GT. That includes a centre span of the dashboard that flows into the doors to emphasise the cabin’s width. Whether the concept’s fully vegan material usage will be used is less likely.

Luke Wilkinson

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