Audi RS e-Tron GT has that elusive characteristic – star quality

More power makes Audi’s low-slung electric saloon even more intoxicating

Audi e-Tron GT
    
Year: 2022
Fuel: Electric

Is too much ever actually too much? That’s possibly slightly too existential a question with which to open, and anyway it has too many correct answers. After all, if the “too much” of which we speak is chocolate cake, then your taste buds and endorphin receptors will provide a very different answer to your cardiologist or your Noom app.

When it comes to power, and I mean motive power rather than the ever-corrupting political variety, the answer throughout history has been a resounding no, you can never have enough. When I began my life as a motoring writer, a Porsche 911 (then as now the sports car benchmark) had 272hp, and a Golf GTI had a mere 150hp. Both of those figures have long since been eclipsed by their respective successors.

Electric cars muddy the water of that question somewhat. You see, in general, the more powerful an internal combustion engined car is, the less efficient it will be. While that does still hold in part true for an electric car, there’s a flipside – the more powerful an electric motor is, the more power it can return to its battery when you’re using regenerative braking.

I doubt, however, that outright efficiency was on Audi’s mind when it created this, the RS e-Tron GT. The e-Tron GT we already know – a slick, sleek, four-door that aims at coupe status, and which has the power to both undertake lengthy electric journeys (up to 480km) and yet provide the driver with fun and feedback when those journeys include a road with corners.

The RS e-Tron GT is all that, but with more. More power, for a start. I mean, you'd think that the standard e-Tron GT's 530hp (in Boost mode) and 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.1secs would be more than adequate, but Audi decided that the RS model should be . . . more. So, in Boost mode (which basically occurs whenever you mash the accelerator to the carpet) you get a whopping, not to say whooping, 645hp along with 830Nm (no, not a typo) of torque. That's enough to get you to the legal main road limit in just 3.6 seconds, from a standing start.

What does acceleration of that magnitude that feel like? It feels as if someone has turned gravity through 90-degrees, as your left foot seems to levitate slightly from the floor, and all of the blood in your extremities starts a sudden retreat in the general direction of your spine. Your brain feels momentarily woozy as it sloshes towards the back of your head. It is terrifying and intoxicating all at once, and while I’ve never (yet, I’m, still asking) been strapped into a fighter jet and flung off the deck of an aircraft carrier, I can’t imagine it being much more exciting.

Relevant to the modern motoring world? Arguably, not especially. The opportunities to exploit that kind of vicious acceleration are few and far between, and unless you’re prospecting to take your RS e-Tron GT on regular track days (which, in the context of its €142,430 price tag seems unlikely) then it’s all a bit daft, really.

What about efficiency?

Then again, the flip side of the equation comes into play. Because the two electric motors (giving this e-Tron GT quattro four-wheel drive, natch) can feed lots of power back to the 85kWh (net) battery, you’re not actually losing out in efficiency terms compared to the standard e-Tron GT. Well, not by much at any rate. In fact, compared to the standard car’s range, the dramatic increase in power and torque has cost you a mere 15km of overall range.

In practice, there’s hardly any difference. We averaged exactly what Audi claims the RS e-Tron GT to be capable of in terms of electric consumption – 22kWh/100km – which gives you a realistic real-world range of just under 400km. You’ll do a bit better if you spend less time than I do on motorways. The RS charges rapidly too, thanks to its 800-volt electrical architecture, and 270kW maximum charging speed, assuming you can find a free and fully-functional DC public charging point with sufficient grunt. Basically, it has enough range and enough charging ability to be able to more or less nullify the effects of range anxiety, as long as you don’t try straying too far from metropolitan Dublin.

You will want to, though. Not only is the RS e-Tron GT a consummate cruiser (bar a touch too much wind rustle around the frameless doors, which you only notice when you slow back down and realise how high you’ve had the stereo volume cranked), but it’s also bewitchingly good fun in the twisties.

With a driver on board, the RS e- Tron GT weighs a fairly massive 2.4-tonnes – Range Rover territory – yet the air suspension and sharp steering means that it seems to shed hundreds of kilos into the surrounding air when you tackle a corner. It feels staggeringly light on its feet, and incredibly able to turn and go when and where you want. It's quite something, and it doesn't even ride hard, loping across undulations with relative ease.

Are there shortcomings? Of course. The back seats are pretty tight, and the boot’s none too large. The long, low nose also has a nasty habit of scraping itself on speed ramps (if you forget to raise up the air springs in time) and it’s so wide that you’ll fear for your expensive alloys (€3,000 worth of 21-inch rims on this particular car, and yes I managed to ding one of them) in every multistorey car park.

Then there's the Porsche-badged elephant in the room. The Audi shares its chassis, structure, batteries, and motors with the mighty Porsche Taycan, and for more or less the same money as this RS model, you could have the Taycan Turbo, with even more power (680hp) and that evocative heraldic crest of Stuttgart on the nose. Is there any compelling reason to buy the Audi over the Porsche?

Well, arguably the Audi is the better looking of the two (well, it is to my eyes at any rate) and while the prices aren’t dissimilar, Porsche’s options list is longer and more ruinous and the e-Tron GT comes with better equipment as standard. Which of course is a bit of a pointlessly reductive argument when you’re spending this much money anyway.

While the Porsche will be a constant thorn in the RS e-Tron GT’s side, so too will the regular e-Tron GT, which gives you 90 per cent of the thrill (and all of the aesthetics) for considerably less cash. Even so, it is still one of the most compelling cars we’ve driven in a long, long time. Not only is it easily one of the best EVs we’ve ever driven – arguably the best of all – it is a welcome reminder that electric cars can be fun, can be sexy, and can be utterly desirable. In other words, the future doesn’t have to be dull.

Lowdown: Audi RS e-Tron GT

Power: 475kW twin-motor electric drive with 85kWh (net) battery developing 645hp and 830Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual motor tax) 0g/km (€120).
Electric consumption: 22.5-kWh/100km.
Range: 465km (WLTP)
0-100km/h: 3.6sec.
Price: €160,157 as tested; e-Tron GT from €103,890.
Our rating: 5/5.

Verdict: Expensive, but staggeringly talented.