Ever toyed with one of those hobby-grade remote-control cars that accelerate so aggressively it looks unnatural? That’s how the 2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT and its toned-down GT Quattro sibling will make drivers feel. Audi’s new electric halo car is a world-class grand tourer competing for a heavyweight title, and we think it has a real shot.
What Is It?
The E-Tron GT is Audi’s newest electric offering, following the E-Tron SUV and E-Tron Sportback and preceding the pair of Q4 E-Trons that will launch this fall. Audi says that E-Tron will come to have as much significance in the future for the brand as Quattro (Audi-speak for all-wheel drive) has had over the previous four decades. The GT shares its underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan. That means the E-Tron GT Quattro lines up with the Taycan 4S, and the sportier RS E-Tron GT matches up to the mighty Taycan Turbo. Preserving the Volkswagen Group hierarchy, there will be no Audi equivalent to the ultra-high-performance Taycan Turbo S.
In both Audis, two electric motors (one front, one rear) power all four wheels, sourcing their electrons from a floor-mounted 93.4-kWh battery with its useable capacity limited to 83.7 kWh. Like in the Taycan, the front motor routes its power to the drive wheels through a single-speed transmission, while the rear motor relies on a two-speed box in order to prevent performance from falling off at higher speeds. The weight for all that hardware? A tick over 5,000 pounds.
Audi positions the GT as a coupe-like four-door in the same vein as its A7 and A5 Sportback. Compared to the already dramatic-looking A7, the E-Tron GT is 2.0 inches shorter, 0.7 inch wider, and 1.8 inches lower, lending it a muscular stance and the lowest roofline of any Audi save the mid-engine R8. Speaking of that V-10 supercar, the aluminum-bodied E-Tron GT is built on the same production line in Neckarsulm, Germany.
How Fast Is the Audi E-Tron GT?
The E-Tron GT Quattro delivers 496 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, or 522 horses and 472 lb-ft of twist with overboost. Opt for the RS, and those figures jump to 590/637 hp and 612 lb-ft. Looking at top speeds, the GT Quattro and RS are electronically limited to 152 and 155 mph, respectively.
But is the E-Tron GT as quick as a Tesla Model S or the aforementioned Taycan? Not quite. No vehicle completes the 0-60 sprint faster than the new Model S Plaid’s 2.1-second run, and the Audi’s Porsche equivalents—the 4S and Turbo—run the same test in a claimed 3.8 and 3.0 seconds, respectively. Audi’s 0-60 times for the GT read 3.9 and 3.1 seconds for the Quattro and RS.
For the record, though, the figures for the RS may be on the conservative side. Audi brought us to a private airstrip in Agua Dulce, California, to experience 0-100-mph launches, complete with manufacturer-supplied GPS tracking. The quickest 0-60 time on our 106-degree test day was in the 3.2-second range, but another journalist was said to have clocked a run in 2.9 seconds. We look forward to validating the overall performance of both E-Tron GT models by running them through a full series of MotorTrend tests.
That level of acceleration is no joke from the driver’s seat. Launch control is a cinch: engage Dynamic mode, turn off traction control, left foot on the brake, right foot on the accelerator, lift your left foot, and off you go. A 5,000-pound vehicle gathering speed this effortlessly is miraculous.
The RS E-Tron slingshots off the line like a proper athlete, but it can’t quite match the violent kick in the back you’d feel in a Tesla. You will, however, feel the rear transmission shift around 45 mph; whereas some EVs deliver prodigious torque off the line and die off at the top end, the E-Tron GT maintains its hustle well past 100 mph.
We didn’t only drive the E-Tron GT on an airstrip. Cruising up the highway toward the mountains, we had a chance to appreciate the near-complete lack of wind noise in the cabin. Tire noise is another story; there’s a lot of it, especially on imperfect road surfaces or if you opt for the 21-inch wheels. Rear visibility is poor, too, to the point where we wonder why the car even has a rearview mirror. General Motors has figured out the rear camera-fed digitized mirror, so why can’t Audi?
The driver assist tech is acceptable, with mostly natural braking behavior and simply laid out controls. In fact, Audi deserves praise for the relative simplicity of this cabin. Whereas Tesla expects its users to learn a whole new style of infotainment system and the Taycan interior has more screens than a Best Buy Black Friday sale, the E-Tron GT’s cabin is pretty standard Audi fare. If you’ve driven a luxury car or used a smartphone in the past 10 years, you’ll be fine.
Interior storage, however, is lacking. The center console storage beneath the armrest is only big enough for a small wallet and keys; beyond that, your only options are a phone-sized slot next to the shifter and decent-sized map pockets on either door panel. The dominolike shifter feels premium and intuitive, but it’s covered in fingerprint-attracting piano black plastic trim (like the rest of the center console). No car should feature a material this reflective and prone to fingerprints, let alone a six-figure flagship EV.
We forgot all about those niggles when the pavement turned twisty. Conveniently positioned between our West Hollywood hotel and Agua Dulce is a little road called the Angeles Crest Highway. Piloting the E-Tron GT along this fast, challenging, technical stretch of tarmac revealed a shockingly approachable grand touring canyon carver.
With no engine noise, most of what you’ll hear is the tires. These low rolling resistance summer tires will sing when pushed—a ghostly hum at six-tenths and a squidgy squeal as you push harder. Combined with accurate, progressively weighted steering, we were able to nudge right up to the limit of adhesion almost immediately.
When you do exceed the limit, the E-Tron GT does so gradually, executing ever-so-slight four-wheel drifts, especially on corner entry. It’ll only understeer when provoked with throttle mid-corner; the balance here is a pleasant surprise. Powering out of a bend is when you’ll really notice the extra power and torque-vectoring rear end of the RS model. Where you start to squeeze the accelerator of the Quattro, you can hammer that of the RS and rocket toward the next apex with alarming alacrity. The RS settles in a corner a hair quicker than its Quattro cousin, too.
Range and Charging
If you decide to bomb through a mountain pass in your electric super sedan, it’s worth making sure there’s a charger on the other side. While this by no means represents average driving behavior, our 101 hard miles from Hollywood to Agua Dulce dropped the E-Tron GT’s reported range from 205 miles to just 28.
Under typical driving conditions, Audi is estimating ranges of 238 and 232 miles for the Quattro and RS. There’s even a standard heat pump that should maintain that kind of range in colder climates. Of course, those numbers don’t come close to the 348-mile Model S Plaid or the 517 miles claimed for the Lucid Air Touring.
Before you start complaining, though, keep in mind the E-Tron GT has the capability for 270-kW fast charging, which can add around 120 miles of range in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re driving a 500-mile day, you’re going to want a break or two, right? Plus, every E-Tron GT includes three years of free charging at Electrify America stations.
How Much Does an E-Tron GT Cost? Worth It?
Big surprise: Audi’s new flagship won’t come cheap. A base E-Tron GT Premium Plus starts at $100,945 and the RS E-Tron GT will set you back at least $140,945. You could buy quicker electric sedans for that money, and you could buy more performance-oriented models or models with better range, too. But in terms of combining usability, balanced dynamics, off-the-line performance, and charging capability? The E-Tron GT, surprisingly, offers up its own appeal and isn’t boxed out by its Porsche relatives or the more familiar Tesla.
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