I received’t mince phrases: the 2021 Audi RS E-tron GT is palms down probably the greatest electrical vehicles I’ve ever pushed. It’s attractive, refined, extremely highly effective, however additionally it is very, very costly.
The E-tron GT is the proper instance of why generally it pays to be a part of a world conglomerate just like the Volkswagen Group. Moderately than attempt to cram its pre-existing EV structure right into a sportier package deal, Audi merely borrowed the one utilized by its sister firm Porsche for its first all-electric sports activities automotive, the Taycan.
The result’s every little thing an electrical sports activities sedan is meant to be: quick, opulent, and a bit cussed in its adherence to conventional design. Whereas some electrical vehicles are simply high-end computer systems within the form of a automotive, the Audi E-tron GT is enthusiastic about being a automotive first. There’s no oppressively big touchscreen, no undercooked semi-autonomous security system, nothing that ought to give anybody with a large enough checking account any purpose to pause earlier than clicking “sure” on a purchase order.
Some would argue that the E-tron GT is only a rebodied Taycan, and so they’d be completely proper. And what’s unsuitable with that? The Taycan can be a incredible electrical sports activities automotive. They have been developed alongside one another and share a formidable 800-volt structure that allows fast charging. The E-tron GT’s twin electrical motors — one within the entrance axle and one within the rear — allow between 522 and 637 horsepower relying on the mannequin and an revolutionary two-speed transmission that makes for breathtaking take-offs.
However all that class and energy don’t come low-cost. The Audi RS E-tron GT, which begins at $140,000, is dearer than the Taycan, the Tesla Mannequin S, and the Mercedes-Benz EQS. It’s additionally pricier than the Audi RS7, which is an opulent velocity demon in its personal proper. So far as I can inform, it’s dearer than most luxurious EVs, a section that’s rising quickly.
Usually, after I get a loaned car, I attempt to combine it into my on a regular basis life: taking the youngsters to high school, groceries, errands, and so on. However the E-tron GT demanded a unique tact. It’s not that I couldn’t carry myself to sully the backseat with a automotive seat or let my children wipe their soiled sneakers on the seatbacks. Moderately, it was as a result of the E-tron GT is a complicated driving machine and calls for to be handled with respect.
Stand on the accelerator, and you may see why. The RS E-tron GT boasts 440kW, or about 590 horsepower, and in overboost mode, that quantity jumps to 637 horsepower. It could possibly dash to 60mph (100 km/h) in 3.3 seconds — not as fast as 2.2 seconds boasted by the Taycan Turbo S, however definitely spectacular when you think about the E-Tron GT weighs over 5,000 kilos.
I’ve pushed sufficient EVs that the fun of near-instantaneous torque has misplaced a little bit of its shine. Nonetheless, the RS E-tron GT managed to get my blood pumping each time I stomped on that accelerator: the skittering sound of fall leaves blasting out from underneath the again 21-inch tires, after which a whoosh as I used to be shoved again into the leather-based seats. (Synthetic leather-based and microfiber are additionally obtainable as an possibility.)
The steering felt correct, and the slight physique roll felt essential to present the driving force a superb sense of the highway. The RS will get torque-vectoring and rear-axle steering as commonplace, whereas base mannequin homeowners might want to cough up an additional $6,000 for these options. The wedge-shaped physique dealt with itself ably on particularly curvy roads, and the brakes have been extraordinarily environment friendly at hauling the Audi down from velocity — which is sweet as a result of, when driving this automotive, you have a tendency to make use of the brakes loads.
Not like some rivals, Audi doesn’t provide one-pedal driving that’s usually provided in most EVs. The utmost regenerative braking, which is activated by plus- and minus-paddles on the steering column, doesn’t sluggish the automotive down that a lot. The result’s an electrical sedan that drives imperceptibly from a standard gas-powered one, which may assist win some followers who’re skeptical about shifting to battery energy however could disappoint followers of one-pedal driving.
One of many neatest options is the flexibility to regulate what Audi calls the “listener expertise,” which is one other approach of describing the substitute sounds the automotive makes at low speeds. Electrical vehicles are legally required to make an exterior noise so different highway customers can hear them coming. Audi took what may have been a boring process and made it quirky. Among the many sound samples used have been a mannequin helicopter and a didgeridoo.
It’s not unimaginable to select the sonic nuances whereas driving the E-tron GT, however the total impact is sort of misplaced. You’re left with a digital whirring sound that isn’t that dissimilar from a wide range of different EVs I’ve pushed just lately. And my mind will not be up to now gone as to choose it over a V10 engine roar.
When charging the Audi RS E-tron GT, you inevitably run into the identical issues as you’ll with each electrical automotive that isn’t a Tesla: the dearth of a proprietary community of EV chargers. That stated, the E-tron GT doesn’t lack in choices. There are connections for alternating present on each side, and on the best, there may be additionally a connection for direct present.
Audi advertises 232 miles of vary on a full battery, which falls far wanting different equally priced luxurious EVs, just like the Mannequin S (412 miles), EQS (350 miles), or Lucid Air (520 miles). I didn’t sort out any steep hills, so presumably, the E-tron GT’s battery drained at a standard price whereas I had the car.
Audi claims that its 800-volt system permits ultra-fast charging. Simply 5 minutes on a high-speed charging community like Volkswagen’s Electrify America, and the E-tron GT will get better 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, of vary. As all the time, the corporate is assuming a price of cost that usually exceeds what most chargers, even quick chargers, really dole out.
It took a number of days of driving to empty the battery under 40 %. I charged it as soon as at residence utilizing the 120-volt outlet in my storage, solely including a pair miles of vary after a full eight hours of trickle charging. I additionally charged it at a public DC quick charger, the place it took 42 minutes to cost from 45 % to 80 %. That was at a 45kW price — lower than half the marketed prime price of 150kW.
It ought to be famous that Audi doesn’t have its personal charging community, like Tesla. However the automaker is providing a few workarounds, together with three years of complimentary DC quick charging via VW’s Electrify America. (There’s that synergy once more!) Audi E-tron GT clients may also get discounted in-home charging installations via a partnership with EV charging supplier Qmerit. Nonetheless, it received’t be sufficient to assuage any of the charging nervousness many EV-hesitant automotive consumers expertise.
To step contained in the E-tron GT is to enter a well-recognized world. There’s a touchscreen show and bodily buttons for the HVAC system. The air vents are actual air vents. There’s a middle console, gear stalk, and different bodily touchpoints that will appear quaint in an EV world dominated by Tesla. This isn’t an aggressively minimized EV inside, neither is it one designed to overwhelm the senses. Certain, there’s loads of carbon fiber — perhaps an excessive amount of? — however the total feel and look of the inside is modern and compact.
Entrance-seat house is beneficiant, however the cockpit is noticeably slim, and the view out the again window is restricted. I believe I’ll have pulled a muscle making an attempt to get out and in of this automotive, due to the low peak and smallish door openings. The RS mannequin comes with black leather-based sport seats with purple stitching, which actually hug your physique and are designed with 14 totally different adjustable settings, local weather management, therapeutic massage features — you title it. The steering wheel was lined in a smooth suede that was completely dynamite to the touch.
One of many odder options is the inclusion of a touch-sensitive knob to manage the quantity on the middle console between the seats. Tim Stevens from Roadshow likens it to the notorious click-wheel on an iPod, and I’ve to agree. However whereas he discovered it awkwardly positioned, I grew to actually prefer it, to the purpose the place I missed it whereas driving different automobiles. After all, you’ll be able to nonetheless management the quantity from the steering wheel, but it surely appeared like a pleasant contact for passengers who could need to skip tracks or modify the quantity with out having to futz with the touchscreen.
The bottom mannequin E-tron GT comes with a glass roof that may’t be opened and isn’t tinted sufficient to dam the solar. The RS model that I drove, nonetheless, swaps that out for an all-carbon-fiber roof. The car already ideas the scales at 5,000 kilos, so it looks like Audi went with the carbon fiber to save lots of slightly little bit of weight.
The ten.1-touchscreen runs on Audi’s completely serviceable MIB3 software program, which wirelessly helps each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One in every of my favourite options was the backup digital camera, which features a 3D rendering of the car to assist navigate these particularly tight parking areas. In any other case, the infotainment system was fairly bland. I appreciated the built-in nav system — the directional cues have been straightforward to comply with, and the map itself wasn’t overly cluttered — however contemplating it runs off of a Google API, there was no compelling purpose to not simply run Google Maps via CarPlay as a substitute.
I used to be not impressed with the parking help function that’s alleged to information the car right into a parking house with restricted enter from the driving force. The interface was opaque, and ultimately, I gave up on making an attempt to make it work. The driving force-assist system was high-quality, although you’ll must pay $2,250 to get superior options like lane-keep help and adaptive cruise management. And why would you need some software program driving your RS E-tron GT for you anyway?
It’s been practically a decade for the reason that Tesla Mannequin S kicked off the EV race with its swish mix of technological effectivity and addictively enjoyable driving type. Since then, the remainder of the auto business has piled into the posh EV section, bringing their very own distinctive type whereas making an attempt to enhance on Tesla’s well-established points with fit-and-finish.
Along with the refreshed Mannequin S Plaid (launched this 12 months), we’ve obtained the Mercedes-Benz EQS, Jaguar I-Tempo, Polestar 2, and Porsche Taycan, which is the non secular cousin to the E-tron GT. Different automobiles slated for imminent launch embody the Cadillac Lyriq, BMW i4, Lexus LF-Z, and Lucid Air.
The luxurious electrical market is clearly in overdrive, and the RS E-tron GT is the newest instance of the kind of refined driving machine you may get with sufficient cash within the financial institution. It doesn’t beat Tesla on vary, nor does it do a lot to enhance on the Taycan, which is available in a barely inexpensive package deal.
What it does provide is a design that’s completely Audi. It’s a sophisticated, villainous entrant to the posh EV market, and it units the stage for extra to return.