When you’re building an electric supercar, who better than Tony Stark to give it that superstar shine. “I’ve been having an extramarital affair with Audi for more than a decade now,” Robert Downey Jr jokingly quips at the unveil of the Audi GT Concept. Downey took the stage with legendary automotive designer Marc Lichte, to pull the wraps off a jaw-dropping car that, though dubbed a concept, is in fact an astonishing 99-percent product ready.
It’s no secret that Audi is in a longstanding love affair with Marvel Studios, too. The Audi R8 will forever be entwined with Tony Stark, the billionaire genius and playboy philanthropist character portrayed to perfection by Robert Downey Jr.
Hot on the heels of the new Audi e-tron SUV and Audi e-tron Sportback is the newest electric four-door coupe: the Audi e-tron GT. This is a high-performance all-electric GT that will rough it up with the best of the best fully electric cars on the market today. “The Audi R8 became the superhero of our portfolio,” exterior designer specialist Parys Cybulski explained. “The new Audi e-tron GT Concept signifies the evolution of our product portfolio.”
And while the Audi e-tron GT is still in concept form today, there are many reasons to lose sleep as you wait for the production model to arrive in late 2020. For starters, the e-tron GT is the first all-electric vehicle developed by Audi Sport GmbH, the privately-owned high-performance subsidiary of the Audi brand. The goal was to create a sporty and luxurious electric GT car that can race the smooth highways on the German Autobahn and beyond. In the case of Robert Downey Jr., you can anticipate seeing him whipping the e-tron GT around, fighting the bad guys in the next Marvel Avengers movie.
Initial camo shots teased the classic proportions of a classic Gran Turismo. With the wrap off, the Audi e-tron GT Concept’s aerodynamic shape, wider stance, and long wheelbase are revealed. Audi says the car will be 4.96-meters (16.3 ft.) in length and 1.96-meters (6.4 ft.) in width, which is eerily similar to the 16.6 ft. length and 6.35-meter width of the current Porsche Panamera. Unlike the Porsche Taycan, that automaker’s electric sedan, though, the e-tron GT Concept has more muscular wheel arches both front and rear.
While Audi may be working with Porsche in developing the power-packed tech in the e-tron GT, the design and character of the vehicle will remain true to the Audi DNA. As expected from a high-performance GT sedan, the Audi e-tron GT has a gently sloping roofline. The sportback layout is reminiscent of the Audi A7, although the e-tron GT concept sits two-inches lower to the ground than the A7. In fact, the Audi R8 only sits a touch lower than the e-tron GT, further blurring the two cars’ categories. The cabin layout is designed to taper strongly to the rear of the vehicle, which Audi claims is the next evolutionary stage of its overall design language.
The prominent shoulders dropping down to the swollen wheel arches took nearly four months to perfect, while the flat floor suggests a lower center of gravity. In order to achieve a lower drag coefficient, Audi designers worked with their engineering counterparts to apply all the tricks in the wind tunnel, to produce a sleek yet shapely silhouette. The body is outlined with broad lines and various functional elements to further reduce drag. Those air vents on the wheel arches are not just for show, for instance: they actually smooth the airflow around the car. The same goes for the solid rear diffuser, which helps to keep the rear of the car planted at high speed.
Large air inlets in the front are designed to provide cooling to the battery and brakes. The hood is sculpted to allow the airflow to literally hug the body as the car moves forward. The front of the e-tron GT is unmistakably an Audi, with the hallmark Audi Singleframe grille, but this time it has a more horizontal architecture to further emphasize the wider stance of the four-door coupe.
Out in the back, it is hard not to notice the light strip that runs across the entire width in the rear of the e-tron GT. The light strip will dissipate at the outer edges to highlight the wedge-shaped LED lighting segments, which echo those fitted to the Audi e-tron SUV which will launch in the US next year.
Still, if the Audi e-tron GT wants to get noticed in the realm of, ahem, ludicrous electric vehicles – yes, Tesla Model S, I’m looking at you – it needs to have a stonking power output and ridiculous zero to 60 times. For that, the e-tron GT wields a pair of asynchronous electric motors located in the front and rear, together producing a combined output of 590 horsepower. It’s enough to complete the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 3.5 seconds, with 0 to 124 mph taking just 12 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 150 mph.
The torque of the twin electric motors is routed digitally to the electric quattro all-wheel drive, which we first saw in the Audi e-tron SUV. There’s no mechanical linkage between the front and rear axles, and the system also utilizes torque vectoring to transfer the appropriate amount of power between the front and rear wheels. In order to spice things up, the system can also coordinate the drive between the left and right wheels to deliver superior handling. The car also comes with all-wheel steering, promising to further enhance the dynamic agility and directional stability of the car.
Electric power is provided by a 90 kWh lithium-ion battery. The ultra-flat battery pack is strategically located in the entire underfloor area between the front and rear axles, helping keep the center of gravity low. The battery provides enough juice to yield a maximum estimated range of 248.5 miles or 400 kilometers in a single charge. Audi has reused its high-tech energy recuperation system, which we also saw first in the Audi e-tron SUV.
The system can recuperate power by lifting the throttle pedal or by applying the brakes. Stopping power is achieved by the electric motors and the conventional friction brakes, but the system chooses which between the two is most appropriate in any given situation. If the system decides to use the electric motors instead of the brake rotors to slow down or stop the vehicle, the system can recuperate power and charge the batteries. In this scenario, the electric motors are acting as twin alternators to provide the juice.
The battery pack can also be charged quickly courtesy of the built-in 800-volt charging system. This system can recharge the battery to 80-percent capacity in around 20 minutes, which is enough to deliver a real-world driving range of 198-miles (320-kilometers). The battery can also be charged with the Audi Wireless Charging system. It utilizes a charging pad installed in the floor of your garage: you park the car over the charging pad, and its 11kW output will fully charge the batteries in your e-tron GT overnight.
The interior offers adequate room for four passengers. “It’s all about the width,” Enzo Rothfuss, head of Audi Interior Design, explains. “It was fun designing the interior of the e-tron GT. And since this car is basically an electric R8 with four seats, the interior layout feels like you’re sitting inside a sports car, but roomier.”
The feeling of immersive space starts with the physical layout of the dashboard. :We created the widest dashboard in the world,” Rothfuss continued. Everything feels wider and stretched out inside the Audi e-tron GT. But at the same time, you sit lower than in a conventional car, which actually feels like you’re piloting a super-sedan version of the Audi R8 supercar. “Honestly, the interior and exterior design of the new Audi e-tron GT is 99-percent ready for production,” the designer concluded.
Since the Audi e-tron GT Concept is an all-electric vehicle, you have access to two luggage compartments, too. Lift the hood to make use of 3.5 cubic feet (100 liters) of cargo space; the rear luggage area offers enough space to load up to 15.9 cubic feet (450 liters) worth of cargo. As it turns out, the new Audi e-tron GT is not only fast, roomy, silent, and comfortable, it also happens to be unexpectedly practical as well.
We’re used to seeing concept cars preview vague flights of design fancy at auto shows, but Audi is blunt about its production intentions for the e-tron GT Concept. Meanwhile, expect some of its aesthetic cues to be carried forward into future Audi models across the board. One thing is clear, while this may be a superhero’s car first, it’s going to make a sizable splash once it moves off the movie screen and into dealerships.