Porsche’s scintillating Taycan Turbo shattered all preconceived notions of what an electric vehicle should be, and Audi is following suit with the RS e-tron GT, which shares most of its core components with the former.
The brawny EV is Audi’s fastest production car to date, with dual electric motors — one for each axle — delivering towering outputs of 646hp and 830Nm. This enables the swoopy RS e-tron GT to scorch from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.3 seconds and hit 250kph flat out.
Like its Porsche counterpart, the RS e-tron GT features 800-volt architecture that enables quick charging (from 5 per cent to 80 per cent in less than 23 minutes), with the 93kWh battery pack delivering a touring range of 400km-plus, according to Audi.
The silky silence and magic-carpet ride of the RS e-tron GT become evident within just a few kilometres of setting off. Wind noise is almost non-existent, and a drag coefficient of 0.24 is proof that the low-slung Audi is highly efficient in carving through the air.
The RS e-tron GT’s avalanche of instant torque is genuinely eye-opening, and there’s a great temptation to floor the throttle and lift off — then keep repeating the procedure just to experience its lung-compressing thrust.
Drive it sedately and the RS e-tron GT isn’t far behind Mercedes-Benz’s impressive EQS in terms of its limo-like ride and refinement. The key here is double-wishbone suspension at the front and an elaborate multi-link arrangement at the rear with three-chamber air springs. Adaptive dampers are fitted at all four corners.
The lithium-ion battery pack is stuffed under the passenger cell, and the payoff is a low centre of gravity and near 50:50 weight distribution over front and rear axles. The National’s test vehicle was equipped with the optional rear-wheel steering and 21-inch rims, enabling the full dynamic repertoire of the Porsche-developed chassis to shine through.
The RS e-tron GT is clearly no minnow and tips the scales at 2,420 kilograms with a 75kg driver. Even so, it has a level of agility that belies its heft. The impressive balance and composure of the chassis plus the car’s massive footprint — via 285/35R21 rubber at the front and 305/30R21 gumballs at the rear — means it takes real commitment to even begin to unstick the Audi’s leech-like grip on the tarmac.
The electromechanical steering is precise and well weighted, so you can point the car with accuracy. That said, the tiller conveys little in the way of textured feedback about what’s going on at the front wheels.
The Audi’s cabin is oriented more towards the sports car end of the motoring spectrum than the techy bonanzas that distinguish the cockpits of some EVs. You sit relatively low in the RS e-tron GT, and there’s a pronounced centre tunnel that separates the driver from other occupants.
The two sculpted bucket seats in the rear provide adequate knee and headroom for average-sized occupants, but small side windows and tall seat backs in front of you contribute to a slightly claustrophobic feeling in the back. There are 366 litres of boot space behind the rear seat, which isn’t huge, but that’s the penalty for having to house the bulky 93kWh battery pack.
There’s plenty to like about the RS e-tron GT. It’s a beautifully cohesive EV that nails almost all the key metrics for a high-performance sedan. As for the car's outrageous styling, it might lack the visual purity of Porsche's curvaceous Taycan, but I quite like its in-your-face musculature and aggression.
If there is a chink in this Audi’s armour, it’s that there’s a degree of remoteness in its demeanour. It feels as though you’re interacting with the car through several layers of software, which is probably not too far from reality.
Even so, it’s a tempting alternative to conventional go-faster sedans such as the BMW M5 Competition and Mercedes-AMG E63 S, both of which are priced in the same ballpark.
The RS e-tron GT is emphatic proof that EVs needn’t be boring. Far from it.