RE: Audi RS e-tron GT | UK Review

RE: Audi RS e-tron GT | UK Review

Wednesday 3rd March

Audi RS e-tron GT | UK Review

Audi Sport enters a new, electric era - the e-tron GT shows that's not quite as scary as it sounds



All the established performance car brands are going to face some challenges in the move to an electrified future. It's simply too much of a step change, industry-wide, for it to be undertaken without some degree of difficulty or trepidation. For some manufacturers and vehicle types, the transition is going to be simpler than others: replicating what a luxury saloon does with batteries and electric motors is a lot more convenient than making a lightweight sports car from the same hardware.

Then there's the case of the fast Audi, specifically this new RS e-tron GT, and how it fits into the established ICE hierarchy. Though many may fondly recall open gated manual R8 or the generation of RS4 that revved to the heavens, the fact is that the fast Audi image has been forged - and continues to trade on - the sort of cars that are not unlike the e-tron already. Models like the current RS4 and RS6 are large, heavy, automatic luxury vehicles, with the security of four-wheel drive and the instant performance offered by twin turbocharging. The move to something like the RS e-tron GT - four driven wheels, immediate power, more weight than is really ideal - surely requires a lot less soul searching from brand advocates than it might from, say, Porsche or Lotus. Or even BMW, come to think of it. On paper, the RS e-tron GT seems to fit into the Audi range seamlessly. And right at the top of it, too.

Audi describes the e-tron GT has nothing less than a "dynamic work of art", a car that is the "embodiment of an expressive design language that emphasises the longstanding position of Audi as an innovator in this field". In other words it's spectacular to look at - but immediately recognisable as something out of Ingolstadt. Or Neckarsulm, more specifically, as the e-tron will be built at Bollinger Hofe alongside the R8. What was perhaps conservative as a concept at the end of 2018 makes for a stunning production car a few years later, lower and wider than anything else this long can usually be. That drama should entice new buyers (perhaps even those considering the architecturally similar Taycan) while familiar Audi cues like the Singleframe grille and rear light bar will keep those upgrading from an A7 happy. The pictures really don't do it justice - there's enough presence here to make an RS6 look pretty ordinary.



The interior is a similarly smart mix of what Audi already does well with the benefits conferred on the e-tron by its powertrain. The driving position might be better than an R8's, placing you right down low with the pedals and wheel just so; the latter is thin and nicely trimmed in Alcantara - it's honestly hard to think of how it could be improved. Interestingly, too, the futuristic capacitive buttons used in the entirely humdrum A6 for the ventilation have been swapped out here for traditional buttons that are almost slightly unbecoming for something so wantonly future focused. But they work just fine. And if the cabin isn't perhaps as memorable as the Porsche's, then it's hard to find meaningful fault with.

With a start button on the centre console and a drive selector similar to the one found in a Golf, the e-tron GT is like almost any other Audi to get going. It doesn't take long for differences to make themselves known, though; beyond the obvious lack of noise other than the manufactuered 'soundscape', there's a suppleness to the ride - even on optional 21-inch wheels - and clarity to the steering response that's distinct from the Audi norm. The RS GT feels plush from the off, a lot more like the second half of the name than we've come to expect from the rest of the RS-badged lineup. Which is no bad thing given the likely use case for most first-time buyers.

Certainly the RS GT cruises as well as its Taycan counterpart, the investment made in 'aeroacoustics' - including that remarkable 0.24Cd - ensuring unruffled progress down a motorway. Perhaps the 21-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres - the standard rim is a 20-inch - throw up a little more road noise than is ideal, though it's easy to imagine emptying an entire charge (around 240 miles according to the trip on the test car) behind the wheel and very much enjoying it. Performance is, of course, staggering, even once the initial acceleration overboost has been exhausted; not quite Taycan Turbo S levels of lunacy, but more shocking than the similarly powerful RS7 because of just how instantly speed is piled on.



More miles bring more surprises. The RS GT is, against all expectations, a remarkably easy car to configure. In this LHD example the drive select button is the correct side for the driver (it's unclear whether that will happen for RHD), meaning it's easy to cycle through Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual. Furthermore, not only can the e-tron be left in Dynamic and comfortable progress still be made, Individual isn't a bewildering array of choices: the driver selects their modes for sound, powertrain response and suspension only, the latter three-chamber air system with just two settings. The steering doesn't adjust, neither does the rear differential; the mode anxiety which is often a feature of fast Audis never materialises here - because it's good all the time, in any setting.

This sort of omniscient prowess shouldn't be a shock given how closely related the e-tron is to the astonishingly good Porsche, but it is a nice break from the fast Audi norm. No longer is there that slightly ponderous, nose-heavy sensation typical of cars with a large engine slung out front; the RS GT lives up to its precise, decently weighted steeing with pleasingly incisive direction changes. It will understeer at the limit - perhaps more than expected given how game it is up to that point - but the car's mass can only be concealed for so long. Added to which you've probably gone into the corner much, much faster than you would in any other car, too.

Better instead to turn in with a bit less speed and jump back on the throttle early, where all Audi's claims of "Quattro reborn" begin to make a lot more sense - the e-tron feels more rear-driven than any other quattro Audi, R8 included, as well as more immediate at corner exit. The delay waiting for power to be moved rearwards has been eliminated, to the extent that you'll want to be on top of it as the transition from straightening under power to something more can be pretty swift (just ask the Audi employee who spun one on the tech day). But even on the roundabouts of Milton Keynes and a little further beyond, it's clear that the RS GT is going to present keen drivers with some handling intrigue they might not have expected. And possibly give some old Audi RS drivers the shock of their lives.



Naturally it isn't perfect; the brake feel seems more artificial than it does in a Taycan, with a dead spot at the top of the travel and less confidence under big stops, for example. It would be nice to have the option of more regen, too, as the throttle pedal works so well in building all that ferocious speed. Typically the RS coasts when the driver lifts, with regeneration most pronounced in Dynamic mode and adjustable through steering wheel paddles, though even then it feels like the car could be nudged further towards one pedal driving.

They seem minor gripes, though, for what feels an immensely impressive opening gambit for electric RS Audis. By bringing together the traditional brand attributes of style, quality and performance with the dynamic advantages afforded by an EV platform, the RS e-tron GT presents a pretty formidable case for itself. Its claimed range and weight won't do anything for detractors of batter power, but for those not regularly commuting to Aberdeen or addicted to V8s, the e-tron is already a compelling alternative to something like an RS7 - it really is that good. Buyers will pay for the privilege, of course, with the RS version costing anywhere from ยฃ110,000 to ยฃ130,000. But then a new flagship was never likely to be cheap. Expect a right-hand drive verdict in due course - and plenty more plaudits, too.


SPECIFICATION | AUDI RS E-TRON GT

Engine: Permanently excited electric motor, one per axle, 93.4kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed (front) twin-speed (rear), all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 646 (launch control overboost, otherwise 598)
Torque (lb ft): 612 (launch control maximum)
0-62mph: 3.3sec (3.6 without boost)
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,347kg (DIN without driver)
MPG: N/A (283-mile range)
CO2: 0g/km (driving)
Price: ยฃ110,950 (base RS e-tron GT; RS e-tron GT Carbon Black ยฃ124,540 and RS e-tron GT Carbon Vorsprung ยฃ133,340)

Author
Discussion

pb8g09

Original Poster:

825 posts

33 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
Yes yes yes!

This is more like it! Swap the MPV looking EVs and let’s have some more of this!

Don’t care about the weight- if it’s not less than 1200kg then it’s never going to feel light so forget about that.

More designs like this please EV makers

LuS1fer

37,511 posts

209 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
I've never been a fan of the premium German marques but that is very, very, very nice indeed and a welcome respite from the sea of SUV garden sheds.

Never liked the Taycan.

Edited by LuS1fer on Tuesday 2nd March 23:29

BlackWidow13

784 posts

19 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
2.4 tonnes. That is a lot of tonnes.

3.3s 0-60. That is a lot of shove to move those tonnes.

Must have quite an appetite for pads, discs and tyres.

Nice looking. Better looking than the Taycan IMO but it’s all subjective.

martin12345

217 posts

53 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
I'm addicted to V8's !!

TBH - having great electric cars at the top of the market seeing realistic to me as they can bear the expense of the batteries
How to make decent Fiesta sized cars with good range at an affordable price - that remains the tough nut to crack I think

Terminator X

10,762 posts

168 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
R8 prices so is it competing with the R8? Can't see the weight but may have missed it.

I absolutely hate EV however this has certainly piqued my interest eek

TX.

Edit - 2,347kg yikes

abzmike

3,753 posts

70 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
Looks very dynamic, even if the from end is a bit fussy - certainly makes an impression. Should drive great. But why get one ahead of a Taycan, unless a buyer is allergic to Porsche, or can’t wait?

Muddle238

2,438 posts

77 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Nice from the rear, but the front is a mess; just a mass of incoherent lines and fussy details, then the front overhang reminds me of a Peugeot 407.

The interior doesn’t really do it for me either, it literally has no stand-out aesthetic or design that makes me go “wow”, all very underwhelming.

Wolvesboy

475 posts

105 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
martin12345 said:
I'm addicted to V8's !!

TBH - having great electric cars at the top of the market seeing realistic to me as they can bear the expense of the batteries
How to make decent Fiesta sized cars with good range at an affordable price - that remains the tough nut to crack I think
I totally agree ^^^^

Having considered mainstream electric for a while now (Zoe, Leaf etc), the price of battery replacement alone puts me off.

Gorgeous car though and I bet it looks even more striking in person being low and wide.

Glenn63

1,326 posts

48 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
I actually think it’s a bit of a looker! Raise that roof abit further back and could make a handsome estate.

fblm

18,751 posts

227 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
BlackWidow13 said:
2.4 tonnes. That is a lot of tonnes.

3.3s 0-60. That is a lot of shove to move those tonnes.

Must have quite an appetite for pads, discs and tyres.

Nice looking. Better looking than the Taycan IMO but it’s all subjective.
If it's anything like the Taycan, very little appetite for pads and discs due to regen braking most of the time.

fblm

18,751 posts

227 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Proper buttons and switches not stupid frigging screens! Yay! It's a car not a Mac Store.

dvs_dave

6,299 posts

189 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Wolvesboy said:
I totally agree ^^^^

Having considered mainstream electric for a while now (Zoe, Leaf etc), the price of battery replacement alone puts me off.

Gorgeous car though and I bet it looks even more striking in person being low and wide.
Unfounded rhetoric peddled by the anti-EV brigade.

flatso

1,015 posts

93 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
That is a HOT looking machine! A nice V8 growl would suit it nice.

Arsecati

1,237 posts

81 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
An absolutely stunning looking car - regardless of the method of propulsion. Create an Avant version in a similar vein (even preferably A6/RS6 Avant alternative), and I am there.......


.......Well, in 10/15 years I will be there, but ya know what I mean!

whp1983

488 posts

103 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
First EV I actually want... very nice.

Want to see how these depreciate... see if it’s like an RS6 and it becomes more do-able in 3-4 years.

I also wonder if manufacturers will focus on weight reduction a little in future.

Jon_S_Rally

962 posts

52 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Probably the best looking EV out there (other than the mentally expensive Lotus of course). They've nailed the styling.

Wheels are shocking though. So many EVs seem to have really awful wheels.

LaurasOtherHalf

19,724 posts

160 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Is it just a Taycan underneath all the Audi looking bits?

Gecko1978

4,774 posts

121 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
LaurasOtherHalf said:
Is it just a Taycan underneath all the Audi looking bits?
Its a bit like asking is a Panamera just a A6 etc it probably is in truth but then a Tycan, E Tron etc are just variations ofr a given platform like all VAG products but that (to me at least) does not stop them being interesting

fantheman80

320 posts

13 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
Jon_S_Rally said:
Wheels are shocking though. So many EVs seem to have really awful wheels.
Yeah why is this? Wonder if its to help the quinola brigade when they see it parked up. "This is nice Josh, wonder if its electric. Oh it is you can tell by the gash wheels.' All tryng to be too scifi...

hornbaek

3,380 posts

199 months

Wednesday 3rd March
quotequote all
The end of the ICE is coming nearer - fast.