Electric Cars

Audi E-Tron GT Concept: We drive this Super Bowl ad hero on LA's mean streets

How often do you get the chance to drive a multi-million-dollar electric show car?

Audi

Note: If you're looking for Audi E-Tron GT concept info after seeing the automaker's hilarious new Super Bowl ad, "Cashew," you've come to the right place. Not only have we spent a lot of time ogling the German automaker's stunning new electric five-door concept car, it recently let Roadshow by CNET drive it on the streets of Los Angeles just hours after it debuted at the LA Auto Show. You can read all about it below, and if you're looking for more Audi news and reviews, be sure to bookmark Roadshow by CNET.

Hot on the heels of its production E-Tron SUV, Audi is promising to launch a version of this new E-Tron GT, an electric grand tourer with legit high-performance chops. Audi showed its concept preview of the E-Tron GT to the media at the Los Angeles Auto Show in late November, and following its debut, the company let me get an up-close and personal look at the concept -- including some time behind the wheel.

The E-Tron GT Concept employs a 90-kilowatt-hour battery, with pair of electric motors at each axle. Audi says this is good for an impressive 590 horsepower, which should propel the GT to 62 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds. The company also says the E-Tron GT will have wireless and 800-volt charging capabilities, the latter of which should be fast enough to add 200 miles of range from just a 20-minute charge.

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Of course, I can't test the limits of the E-Tron GT's performance on my brief, police-escorted drive around downtown Los Angeles. Plus, while Audi says it'll bring the GT to production in 2020, this car is still very much a concept, meaning it's way more fragile than a normal road car. Thus, I'm not able to get it above 20 miles per hour, with Audi handlers directing me around manhole covers and other possibly jarring road imperfections.

So, I can tell you that, yes, the car drives under its own power. It steers, brakes and handles. The brakes are firm, with a solid bite point, and the sweet, electric torque comes on with an instant rush.

You sit low inside the GT, its high beltline and low seats make me feel like I'm wearing the car, not just sitting inside it. In front of me, a digital gauge cluster is nestled behind the steering wheel, with a huge infotainment screen positioned to the right, angled toward me. The steering wheel is flat on both the top and bottom, covered in vegan faux-leather. It feels great in my hands: smooth, but with enough texture to keep my palms from sliding around.

In fact, most of the GT's interior is made up of recycled materials. There isn't an inch of leather anywhere, and even the floor mats are made from recycled fishing nets.

Stepping outside, the GT is best viewed in profile, with its sloping roofline and huge, 22-inch wheels pushed out to all four corners. Air vents in the wheel arches pull double duty, acting as visual interest that's also aerodynamically functional.

Up front, the GT bears a striking resemblance to the new A7. The headlights take the same general shape, but matrix LEDs with laser high beams bring new visual interest to these lamps. The E-Tron GT maintains the six-sided grille found on all new Audis, though it uses a two-tone finish with a honeycomb texture not unlike what's found on Audi's sporty RS cars. And yes, the huge E-Tron badge on lower part of the grille lights up.

A full-width light bar incorporates large, LED taillights, and I like the way this puts a strong emphasis on the car's width. (Other Roadshow staffers, meanwhile, think the taillights are a bit too Nissan Maxima for something as sleek as an Audi.) Regardless, this taillamp treatment is a nod to the E-Tron SUV, meant to visually connect them as siblings. A solid rear diffuser with yet another light-up E-Tron badge completes the look.

It certainly makes an impression, too. Though it's super early in the morning during my LA test drive, what few passers-by there are all turn their heads to stare at the E-Tron GT. A few even give the car an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

Expansive taillights accentuate the width of the E-Tron's badonkadonk.

Audi

You won't see the production E-Tron GT on these streets until 2020, however; the E-Tron SUV, meanwhile, will hit the market next year. And soon, these two E-Trons will be joined by a slew of electrified Audis, the company saying it hopes to launch 12 by the year 2025.

Here's hoping those E-Trons are previewed by concepts as striking as the GT, too.