The Porsche Taycan has been our favourite EV for several years now, so it’s a strong foundation for the first electric Audi with an RS badge. Does the flagship E-Tron GT have the ‘very particular set of skills’ to topple the Taycan?
Back in 1995, Audi’s very first RS model also contained Porsche DNA. The RS2 Avant had a 993-inspired styling and a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, plus the Cup alloy wheels and ‘Big Red’ brakes from a 968 Clubsport.
However, if this ballistic estate car was an Audi fine-tuned by Porsche, the RS E-Tron GT is the other way around: a Taycan in a svelte new suit.
A low-slung and futuristic four-door coupe, it’s certainly handsome – even more arresting than its sibling from Stuttgart, I think. Audi head of design, Marc Lichte, said the 2018 E-Tron GT concept was “the most beautiful car I have ever drawn”, and this showroom version is almost identical. It looked right at home as Tony Stark’s wheels in Avengers: Endgame, too.
The Audi’s two motors and 93kWh battery (84kWh of which is usable) muster a total of 598hp, or 646hp for 2.5 seconds when you floor it in Dynamic mode or use launch control. In terms of output, that positions the RS E-Tron GT somewhere between the Taycan GTS and Turbo. Alternatively, if £119,950 for the RS seems a bit rich, the regular 476hp E-Tron GT starts from £87,800.
Shrugging off its kerb weight of 2.3 tonnes – equivalent to two Volkswagen Polos – the RS feels brutally quick off the mark. Indeed, a 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds is within an eye-blink of Audi’s outgoing R8 supercar, despite the addition of three rear seats and a useful 350-litre boot.
Silent but violent
Equally, while the R8 has a ferocious naturally aspirated V10 that snorts and snarls, turning every journey into an event, the E-Tron gathers speed with a seamless and almost surreal lack of drama. If that sounds like a criticism, it’s not – 90 percent of the time you’ll appreciate its refinement and effortless electric oomph. But there were moments when I wished this glamorous GT would come alive a little.
Thankfully, the Audi’s chassis injects some character into the proceedings. It feels very similar to a Taycan (funny, that), with precise steering and finely calibrated body control. Ride comfort is also very good, even on massive 21-inch wheels.
The RS E-tron GT can’t completely defy physics, of course, and you are always conscious of its sheer size (at 2,158mm, it’s almost as wide as a Range Rover). It feels most at home on flowing A-roads and motorways, with an ability to devour distances that matches the very finest GT cars.
Estate of the art
Until you have to recharge, that is. The Audi has a respectable range of 294 miles, and a charging capacity of 270kW means you can potentially fill the battery to 80 percent in less than 25 minutes. Still, the UK’s unreliable – and increasingly busy – charging network will be the limiting factor on long journeys.
I’m also not convinced the RS E-Tron GT’s cabin feels special enough to justify a six-figure price tag. There’s no shortage of technology, including a brilliant Bang & Olufsen audio system, and many of the touch-points are swathed in tactile Alcantara (a kind of synthetic suede). Yet it doesn’t feel hugely different to an A5 coupe, and headroom is pretty limited in the back.
On the latter point, it seems odd that Audi hasn’t followed up the Taycan Sport Turismo – and indeed its own heritage – with an electric Avant. Just imagine a more spacious, but equally head-turning estate version of the RS E-Tron GT. Now that really would be our favourite EV.