(CNN)Audi’s new E-tron GT, unveiled Tuesday, presents something that is becoming rare in the world of electric vehicles, an actual car. While Audi’s most recent electric vehicles have been SUVs, as have many new electric vehicles, the E-tron is designed to appeal to those who put a premium on the driving feel of a car, with its lower center of gravity and better handling.
The E-tron GT will compete against cars like the Tesla Model S, as well as the Porsche Taycan, which is a close relative of the E-tron GT. Both Audi and Porsche are subsidiaries of Germany’s Volkswagen AG and the two companies cooperated on the fundamental engineering of these cars.
The E-tron is designed as a four-door grand touring car. In contrast to the Porsche’s emphasis on raw performance, it’s intended for long-distance comfort as well, according to Audi. Adjustable air suspension allows for a range of settings, such as comfortable highway cruising or aggressive cornering. The E-tron GT also has four wheel steering to allow for very tight turns at low speeds or smooth four-wheel lane changes a higher speeds.
Audi will introduce two versions of the E-tron GT this spring. One version, the E-tron Quattro, will be powered by two electric motors, one powering the front wheels and the other the back. Together, those motors will produce up to 469 horsepower. Drivers will be able to get up to 523 horsepower for as long as 2.5 seconds, though, in a special boost mode. In normal driving it should be able to go about 300 miles on a full charge, according to Audi.
In the Audi RS E-tron GT, the electric motors will produce up to 590 horsepower in normal driving and 637 horsepower in boost mode. That will be enough to take the car from zero to 60 miles an hour in 3.1 seconds. Unlike most electric cars, the E-tron GT has a two-speed transmission with a special low first gear for fast acceleration. (This feature is shared with the Porsche Taycan.) To save weight, and lower the car’s center of gravity, the RS E-tron GT has a roof made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
While these performance figures are impressive compared to gasoline powered cars, a base Tesla Model S Long Range provides similar acceleration, can go over 400 miles on a single charge, and costs $60,000 less. The starting price for the Audi RS E-tron GT in the United States will be about $140,000. The E-tron GT Premium Plus, the least expensive model that will initially be offered, will cost about $100,000. Audis are still eligible for the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit, though, which Tesla vehicles no longer are.
Matthew Mostafaei, Manager of E-tron and Connected Vehicle at Audi, insisted that the E-tron will be well worth the higher price compared to the Tesla.
“This is a true luxury EV, with every bit of the safety and tech you would expect from the Audi brand,” he said.
Like the E-tron SUV, the E-tron GT doesn’t look strikingly different from Audi’s gasoline-powered vehicles, It’s slightly lower and wider than the Audi A7, the gas-powered model it most closely resembles.
It even retains Audi’s signature trapezoidal grille shape. But instead of a radiator for an internal combustion engine, the area inside the grille frame mostly houses sensors for automated driving and automatic braking.
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