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Audi RS e-tron GT (2021 - )

The RS e-tron GT is proof that Audi can compete with the big guns on the electrification front and possibly offer one of the most beautifully designed cars in the process.

Starting price:
£120,590

Why we love it:
  • Blistering pace and excellent balance
  • Dashing, dynamic good looks
  • Exceptionally comfortable and refined
Where it could be better:
  • Almost zero visibility through rearview mirror
  • Some rivals offer superior range
  • The price – start saving

Introduction

Audi RS e-tron GT

When I’m stopped dead in my tracks trying to get out of my cul-de-sac by a bit of a petrol head who claims: “That sounds like it’s got a big petrol engine beneath the bonnet, but I know it’s an all-electric model” then it becomes clear the Audi engineers have got the sound on the RS e-tron GT spot on.

The four-door model boasts a strong road presence stretching almost five metres in length, but at just 1.4 metres tall, it is ultra-dynamic in its styling offering a blend of coupe prowess matched to saloon practicality. And if that isn’t selling it, the RS e-tron GT shares many of its underpinnings with the outstanding Porsche Taycan.

There are two motors, one driving the front wheels and the other the back delivering the stability of Audi quattro all-wheel drive, and the power, pace and performance are certainly not for the faint-hearted.

But on the downside, the official WLTP-tested driving range of up to 298 miles between charges falls well short of its Tesla Model S rival.

Customers can choose from three trims called RS e-tron GT, RS e-tron GT Carbon Black and RS e-tron GT Carbon Vorsprung – we opted for the entry-level car that was anything but basic.

Audi RS e-tron GT

The Audi RS e-tron GT is not a car than can easily be ignored, so expect plenty of enviable glances as you pass by. That’s because it boasts dynamic lines with muscular shoulders, a wide bonnet, flared wheel arches, a prominent rear diffuser, air intakes, sweeping light clusters including Matrix LED headlights, a rear LED light bar stretching the width of the car, privacy glass and stunning alloy wheels. 

If you are still in any doubt as to just how gorgeous this car is, it is built by the same skilled technicians that were responsible for crafting the legendary R8.

Move inside and you are greeted with leather-free sports seats and an intuitive 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen set-up that offers easy access to the many on-board features. There is a Bang & Olufsen sound system, full smartphone connectivity, sat nav, DAB radio and plenty more besides.  

In addition, the RS e-tron GT is well connected. As well as its MMI navigation plus system with real-time traffic, it also features a route planner that calculates your journey taking into consideration charging along the way.

The driver display screen behind the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel can be configurated to preference and there is a head-up display also highlighting the important stats, which in this case, is primarily speed.

Everything is neatly designed to be simple to operate on the fly, although the interior isn’t as futuristic in its styling as some competitors.

On The Road

Audi RS e-tron GT

Handling & Performance

Powering the all-wheel drive Audi RS e-tron GT is a 93.4kWh battery pack driving motors on each axle. With a total output of 598PS (645PS in boost) along with 830Nm of torque, this powerhouse of a saloon can reach 62mph from a standing start in just 3.6 seconds or 3.3 seconds in boost. It then goes onto a top speed that is limited to 155mph.

With a low centre of gravity thanks to clever positioning of the battery pack, the car is beautifully grounded and can be pushed hard into and out of tight bends. It does feel quite wide on narrower lanes, but that’s a minor price to pay for the superb handling.

Drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual alter the characteristics of the vehicle with Comfort being best suited for our pitted roads. There are also steering wheel paddles to increase or decrease the levels of regenerative braking, although single pedal driving is not a possibility.

It’s balanced with no sign of body sway and then cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways. And that’s a speed limit that is reached with minimal throttle pressure so keep a watchful eye on the speed.

In busy town centres, you will need a large parking bay and the all-round driver visibility is good, but not great. That’s because the vision through the narrow rear screen is almost non-existent so you will rely on all the parking sensors, cameras and driver assistance aids when reversing into a space.

Comfort levels are exceptionally good for such a dynamically-designed, high-performance car and that false, but realistic engine note means pedestrians and cyclists will at least hear you coming.

Audi RS e-tron GT

Space & Practicality

The four-door, five-seat Audi RS e-tron GT boasts a powerful road presence stretching 4,989mm in length, 1,964mm across (excluding mirrors) and 1,414mm tall. 

It sits close to the ground so getting in and out with a degree of grace is not exactly easy and with wide-opening doors, you need to be careful where you park.

Up front there is oodles of room to stretch out and the comfort levels are sublime. The seats and steering wheel are power-adjustable with memory settings to store favourite positions, which is handy if the car is shared.

There is also room for a couple of six footers in the back of the car even with the front seats pushed well back. While the RS e-tron GT is billed as a five-seater, the middle rear seat is very narrow and the occupant would have to straddle quite a large hump. Don’t expect to stay on their Christmas card list. The panoramic roof allows light to flood into the cabin and doesn’t impact on head space unlike some rivals.

The deep boot is accessed via a powered lid and can swallow 350 litres of luggage and you can increase that capacity by folding down the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats. That ‘20’ figure highlights just how compact that middle seat is. There is space for some smaller items too, such as the charging cables or a holdall, beneath the bonnet. If you are desperately trying to find the latch to open the bonnet, it’s located on the edge of the driver’s door (I had to Google it!)

Elsewhere there are a number of handy compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including a lockable glovebox, a small central cubby with phone holder, narrow door bins, deep trays, front and rear cup holders, plus some USB ports.

The vehicle has two charging ports located at the front of the car, one each side, so the battery can be boosted from a standard home wallbox which is the most economical option, or via faster public chargers where a 10-80 per cent charge can be achieved in about 20 minutes.

Ownership

Audi RS e-tron GT

Running Costs

The Audi RS e-tron GT line-up ranges from £120,590 for the entry-level version, as tested, increasing to £131,675 for the Carbon Black model and £138,575 for the Carbon Vorsprung specification.

Those prices are before any optional extras or packs have been accounted for and these can see the final costs climb quite steeply. Our test car featured Suzuka Grey metallic paint as an option, along with a Tour Pack that added Adaptive Cruise Assist with Emergency Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control with speed limiter, efficiency assist, swerve assist and turn assist. These optional add-ons increased the check-out price by a further £2,305.

By adopting the electrification route, owners do benefit from a number of financial benefits thanks to its zero carbon emissions. For example, there is no road tax charge and the vehicle is exempt from Congestion Charge and low emission zone fees. There is also no penalty for choosing an EV costing in excess of £40k whereas those purchasing an ICE vehicle above that price threshold pay an annual subsidy for five years.

Sadly though, these incentives are drawing to a close with the Government recently announcing that many will be cut back or withdrawn completely from 2025.

But, for anyone lucky enough to be offered the Audi RS e-tron GT as a company car, it comes with a very attractive Benefit in Kind tax rate of just two per cent.

The RS e-tron GT model, as tested, sits in insurance group 50.

Verdict

Audi RS e-tron GT

The RS e-tron GT is proof that Audi can compete with the big guns on the electrification front and possibly offer one of the most beautifully designed cars in the process. Yes, it’s expensive but so are its rivals, but you get a whole lot of car for the outlay.

The performance will satisfy the needs of any adrenaline junky, while the refinement will tick all the boxes for anyone seeking relaxed and comfortable ride quality.

By Maxine Ashford
Sep 27, 2023

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