The flagship Audi EV is officially due here in a few months, but we were given a short time in a pre-production, left-hand drive RS e-tron GT. We know the Porsche Taycan is superb, so how does Audi’s cover sound?
- Price range: $273,500
- Powertrains: Two electric motors with 440kW/830Nm, 22.5kWh/100km, two-speed automatic, AWD.
- Body style: Sedan
- On sale: July
The Audi e-tron GT is, like a lot of Audis, a bit of a wolf in sheeps clothing. Its not the first fully electric model from the Four Rings brand but it is the most powerful, and its coming here.
Make me an instant expert: what do I need to know?
This thing looks mean, in all the right ways.
Audi and Porsche have spent the last five-odd years developing a new electric platform, called J1. It underpins the Taycan in all its various forms and the Audi e-tron GT, which is arriving in two guises, the e-tron GT quattro and the RS e-tron GT.
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Really, its a glimpse into the future where everything is a slightly different version of something else, with the character of a car found in the styling and other little aspects.
The e-tron GT is, essentially, a Porsche Taycan wearing Audi clothes.
The Taycan and the e-tron GT share much of the same hardware, with a couple of small tweaks. Audi does away with Porsches all-wheel drive system, slotting a special version of quattro in its place, but retains all-wheel steering, controlled damping, three-chamber air suspension, electric all-wheel drive, and the rear-axle differential lock.
Also carrying over is the two-speed automatic gearbox from the Taycan and a pair of electric motors. Audi has tuned the output of these to fire 440kW (475kW on overboost) and 830Nm in RS trim, which is down on the Taycan Turbos 460kW/500kW and 850Nm.
Obviously, the main difference between the two German EVs is the styling. Audi has given the e-tron GT a new iteration of its design language, keeping the corporate single frame grille but enclosing most of the nose to improve the aerodynamics of the car. There are a few vents, but theyre all for making the body more slippery rather than cooling anything in particular (aside from the air curtains allowing airflow over the brakes).
Inside the e-tron GT is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a familiar affair if you know your Audis.
Angry, dashed headlights give the e-tron GT a sporty face, a look mimicked around the back, with the rear lights connected by a full-width LED bar.
Inside is highly familiar. Audi hasnt followed Porsche in giving the e-tron GT a revamped interior compared to its other cars.
Theres only one centre screen here compared to the e-tron SUV and other high-end RS models, the steering wheel looks lifted almost wholesale from the RS parts bin, as are the physical buttons on the centre console.
Where did you drive it?
An olive-green electric Audi tested on the roads around an olive grove. Fitting.
Audi New Zealand managed to bring in a left-hand drive, pre-production version of the top-spec RS e-tron GT and offered a brief drive out in a secret test location around the Bombay Hills, about five minutes away from the cluster of petrol stations and fast food joints by the motorway, near an olive grove.
I was only allowed about twenty minutes behind the wheel, and about nineteen of those were drenched in rain.
I wasnt about to be that guy who puts a pre-production show car into a ditch trying to show off, so most of the drive was fairly sedate. I did get a chance to give the RS e-tron GT some berries, and it hooked up without any trouble. The car never felt twitchy or strange through the corners either quattro really is brilliant at retaining traction.
Being the full-fat RS model, itll hit 100km/h under ideal conditions in 3.3 seconds. Based on the sampling of power, that figure seems accurate. This is a fast machine, regardless of Audi’s assertions that its a grand tourer, not a sports car.
The paddles behind the steering wheel control the amount of battery regeneration rather than any part of the transmission. Audi dialled the regen back compared to the e-tron SUV, which means the most aggressive setting feels like light engine braking as opposed to the friction brakes engaging.
When using the brakes as well, Audi says the car can recuperate as much as 265kW, which obviously only applies for the small period where battery regeneration is at its peak. Still though, thats a lot of free power.
Zero to 100km/h in a hair over three seconds? Believe it.
Like the Taycan and other high-performance EVs, Audi has given the e-tron GT its own special noise. Its not quite as otherworldly as the Taycan, and its certainly quieter, but it still gives the Audi some presence. Its hard to describe too sort of like the difference between a loping American V8 found in a Dodge from 1970 versus the tuned burble of an Italian V8, but on a smaller scale.
Something to note Audi didnt fix the Taycans annoyingly small rear window. It also couldnt find more storage space, with the RS e-tron GT only offering 350 litres of storage (405 for the e-tron GT quattro).
Whats the pick of the range?
Lets not talk about the Turbo S because its nearly $100k more expensive than the RS e-tron GT. The Taycan Turbo non-S starts at $289,900 and the RS e-tron GT starts at $273,500. Meanwhile, the e-tron GT quattro kicks off at $194,500.
So the RS e-tron GT sits just below the Taycan Turbo, with a smidge less power. But which ones on your wishlist?
Out of those two, and based on the fact we only drove the RS for twenty minutes, its a tricky one to call. Both e-tron GT models sit just below the nearest Taycan, in terms of both price and performance. If youre looking for a good-looking electric Audi that isnt an SUV, but youre also on something of a budget, wed imagine the base e-tron GT will do just fine.
However, if youre sold on the design of Audis four-door and want more organ-busting power, the RS e-tron GT is a completely valid choice. And dont worry about the small difference in output between the RS and the Taycan you’d have to be going hell for leather to see it in the real world.
Why would I buy it?
You want an attractive, electric Audi that isnt an SUV and can still blow the pants off most other things on the road.
Why wouldnt I buy it?
Youd rather the Taycan, or youre waiting to see if the fact that Audi specifically added quattro to the end of the e-tron GTs name means there might be a non-quattro version down the line. After all, theres a rear-drive Taycan…
On the same train of thought, Audi is known for fast wagons and Porsches Taycan Cross Turismo has just launched. Perhaps an e-tron GT Avant is coming too?