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The masterpiece

The masterpiece

The Audi RS e-tron GT and the Audi e-tron GT quattro are the first fully electric production cars with all the hallmarks of the Four Rings’ e-design. Nine questions on this for Marc Lichte, head of Audi design.

Interview: Bernd Zerelles - Photos: Robert Fischer - Video: graupause Reading time: 6 min

Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicles.

Marc Lichte in front of the Audi RS e-tron GT.Marc Lichte in front of the Audi RS e-tron GT.

It’s by far the best car I’ve ever had the privilege of designing.

Marc Lichte, Leiter Audi Design

1. Marc, when you look at the Audi e-tron GT, what emotions does it stir up?
My heart races. The Audi e-tron GT is a very special car for me. Ever since I drew cars as a kid, I’ve dreamed of creating something like this—a huge wheelbase, low-slung cockpit and giant wheels with short overhangs. With the GT, my dream has come true. I’ve been designing production cars for over 20 years. There have been plenty of good ones and perhaps even a few icons. But this car eclipses them all. It’s by far the best car I’ve ever had the privilege of designing.

Marc Lichte looks at the Audi RS e-tron GT with satisfaction.Marc Lichte looks at the Audi RS e-tron GT with satisfaction.
Front headlight close-up of the Audi RS e-tron GT.Front headlight close-up of the Audi RS e-tron GT.

2. What memory of designing the GT do you recall fondly?
That’s easy. It was when we first showed the proportion model to the Board of Management. Everyone instantly fell in love with the car. Which led us to unveil the GT as a show car in Los Angeles in November 2018. That was another intensely emotional experience. The car received great press. All the journalists agreed it was an awesome car but wondered how much of the design would survive in the production version. The big surprise was that there were no surprises.

3. What feature do you particularly appreciate?
A good design always meshes strong aesthetics with perfect functionality. With the GT, we’ve squared the circle in a way that you wouldn’t think possible. As an all-electric, true driver’s sports car with high-performance handling, it’s nothing short of a design object and incredibly low to the ground. But at the same time it’s a full-fledged five-seater—a surprisingly spacious four-door gran turismo that’s also practical enough for an everyday runaround. The fact that we succeeded in bridging the divide between strict aesthetics and uncompromising functionality still amazes me. It should be a contradiction in terms. It shouldn’t work at all.

Marc Lichte takes the measure of the Audi RS e-tron GT model’s cabin.Marc Lichte takes the measure of the Audi RS e-tron GT model’s cabin.

4. What are you most proud of with the GT?
The Audi e-tron GT is perfectly proportioned. My philosophy is that proportions are always the springboard to good design. That applies in equal measure to architecture and fashion as well as cars. In that respect, the GT’s design is built on a sound foundation. These proportions take their cue from the Audi electric platform. Of course, there are lots of different ways to highlight e-mobility visually through design. The way we see it, electric mobility enables us to design the most beautiful cars in the world. Our design chronicles the drive system’s evolution through the inverted Singleframe grille, deep hood, aerodynamic elements, soft shoulder line, battery located in the floor, roof line, quattro muscle and separation edge. We strive to ensure that every all-electric Audi has breathtaking proportions and a knock-out design.

Side view of the Audi RS e-tron GT{ft_rs-e-tron-gt}.Side view of the Audi RS e-tron GT{ft_rs-e-tron-gt}.

5. What was the first line that you set down?
The muscle-topped wheel arches. In my mind, that’s what makes it an Audi. For decades, the shoulder line typically stretched along a consistent height. No more. Now, it’s interrupted in the middle, accentuating with subtle contours the vehicle silhouette’s brawniness at the front and rear—what we refer to as the quattro muscle. In the past, the shoulder line simply connected two planes. But on the Audi e-tron GT, it’s given maximum prominence, standing out in sharp relief—like a quattro sculpture.

Marc Lichte next to the quattro muscle on the Audi RS e-tron GT.Marc Lichte next to the quattro muscle on the Audi RS e-tron GT.
Close-up of the quattro muscle.Close-up of the quattro muscle.

The muscle on the Audi e-tron GT marks the way forward and into the future for quattro.

Marc Lichte, Leiter Audi Design

6. What is your favorite design detail on the GT?
The quattro muscle at the tail end. quattro has been synonymous with Audi from the start. And that’s not going to change any time soon. It’s what sets us apart. The muscle on the Audi e-tron GT marks the way forward and into the future for quattro. Molding the sheet metal into a muscular bulge was a huge challenge because this part is clamped with utmost precision. Together with the tool makers, we spent three months just on modeling this panel. Time and again, the sheet metal split at this point, but we just kept testing its limits—modeling, simulating, molding. Then going back to the drawing board. Until it was perfect. And nothing could improve it.

Portrait of Marc Lichte in the back of the Audi RS e-tron GT.Portrait of Marc Lichte in the back of the Audi RS e-tron GT.

7. Which color do you think works especially well on the Audi e-tron GT?
Daytona Grey. This color has been in the Audi palette for almost 20 years. To this day, it not only showcases contours magnificently but also looks sporty and elegant. Every feature springs to life, every contrast is dramatized to the full. Muscular definition is heightened and each tiny area we devoted so much love and attention to comes into its own. Daytona Grey accentuates everything beautifully.

Marc Lichte gesticulates in front of the Audi RS e-tron GT.Marc Lichte gesticulates in front of the Audi RS e-tron GT.
Close-up of the side air outlets on the Audi RS e-tron GT.Close-up of the side air outlets on the Audi RS e-tron GT.

8. What do you rave about most when talking to someone about the Audi e-tron GT?
That the GT is not only the most beautiful but also one of the most aerodynamic and efficient Audi models ever built. It’s a battery-powered five-seater, which has enough headroom in the back even for tall people like me. And yet, the car is seven centimeters lower than the Audi A7 Sportback. This is what I mean when I say that the GT is a masterpiece of engineering! Thanks to active aerodynamic measures, the Audi e-tron GT has one of the best drag coefficients of any Audi vehicle. That ensures not only its performance but also its range.

I could do some things differently—but not better.

Marc Lichte, head of Audi design

9. The end of one design is the beginning of the next. What would you do differently in designing the next Audi e-tron GT?
Nothing. Because it’s perfect. Wondering about how to do a facelift is already giving me headaches. In the past, when a car was released I always knew already what details I’d like to tweak in the update. That’s not the case with the GT. I could do some things differently—but not better. The Audi e-tron GT has a certain timeless quality, just as it is.

Angled side view of the Audi RS e-tron GT.Angled side view of the Audi RS e-tron GT.
 
The Audi e-tron GT quattro

The Audi e-tron GT quattro

In addition to its spellbinding sound, the Audi e-tron GT quattro is packed with lots of other highlights. Learn more about its progressive design and powerful dynamics.