“An Audi that shares components with a Porsche”, nothing new, right? Who remembers the Audi RS2 that got several Porsche 911 (993) parts like side mirrors, indicators, wheels etc.? This time though, the Audi e-tron GT and the Porsche Taycan can be called true siblings. Because the Audi's sporty genes are clearly evident. It is a car that truly catches me after driving the rather unspectacular and sometimes annoying Audi Q4 e-tron I tested earlier this year. In this review, you will find out what makes the e-tron GT a special car of its own…
What is it all about?
Yes, the Audi e-tron GT is the sister car to the Porsche Taycan – based on the same VW Group J1 platform and containing much of the same technology. On the other hand, it is wrapped in an extremely sharp suit. It’s not the first pure-electric Audi of course, that title goes to its ever-growing line-up of e-tron SUVs, but it’s the most exciting, yet.
There are two versions of e-tron GT available: the ‘entry-level’ e-tron GT quattro and the full-fat RS e-tron GT. Yup, this is also the first electric Audi to wear the RS badge. Both have a motor at either end for four-wheel drive, both have the same two-speed gearbox as the Taycan on the rear axle to maximize acceleration off the line, but also reach better efficiency at higher speeds, and both feature a 93kWh battery as standard – no shorter range or rear-wheel drive option like the Taycan here.
So, the Audi is being pitched as more of a rapid GT than a four-door sports car. Fast, but not as fast as the Porsche on paper. The Audi is a fraction longer, a little narrower and a few cm taller than the Taycan, there’s a bit of extra boot space too – 405-litres in the back, another 81 in the nose. But in isolation you won’t notice the difference, this is a low, long, wide and lean looking four-door that hoovers up attention wherever you go in it.
The e-tron GT’s real strength is it’s not trying too hard to be a car from the future. It’s simply a handsome four-door GT that plays to Audi’s strengths – namely a high-quality interior, comfort and useability and a belting turn of pace that’s more than worthy of the RS badge. An electric powertrain fits the brand’s aspirations as a tech-leader, although this car would have been interesting with a powerful combustion engine, too.
Let’s talk about aesthetics: I just can’t overlook this stunning paintjob! The color is called “Sandbeige Metallic” and is available in Audi’s exclusive color range. The color gives the Audi a huge amount of value and helps the design to be very appealing. Very tasty, very gentlemen’s-like, kinda oldschool with the wooden trim in the interior. But this configuration hits the nail on its head. It is a proper way to stand out beside all the grey and black cars, in a good way.
Let’s have a seat.
Alright, alright. Once you snugged into the very comfortable sport seats, the Audi GT truly gives you the feeling of sitting in a flagship car. And surprisingly does not let you think for a single second, that this car could be powered by electricity.
The e-tron GT’s cabin is on the tight side. Tall drivers can get comfy in the front thanks to excellent seats, but it’s a deliberately snug environment to emphasise the whole coupe-like feel. It’s not especially practical — you get a decent glovebox and two medium-sized cupholders (into which your left elbow will painfully sit when you try to relax on long journeys) in the front, but storage space is quite limited. There’s a deep tray next to the gear selector, but it’s slightly too small for the larger-screen types of mobile phone. The door pockets are quite small and shallow, and the space under the front armrest is also quite small, although there is a neat vertical wireless phone charger in there (your phone is held in place with a small clip — clever) plus a couple of USB ports. Overall, it’s snug but comfortable, like a well-tailored suit, but beware the dash design — when you open the frameless door, there’s a big spike of dash left sticking out at an angle, just waiting to snag unsuspecting legs. It can be quite painful. On the upside, the driving position is excellent. Space in the back is better than you might expect. Headroom is a little tight, but taller people can fit in just alright, while knee-room is actually quite good thanks to big scallops taken out of the backs of the front seats. There are even little scallops cut into the structure of the battery, so you get proper footwells in the back and space for big feet. Audi calls it a “foot garage”. A marketing joke?
There is technically a middle seat in the back seat row, but I highly recommend not to use it. It’s spectacularly narrow and perched-up, so if you want a fast electric Audi that can carry three people in the back, you’re better off with the e-tron quattro SUV. It’s also quite dark and gloomy in the back, unless you’ve specced your e-tron GT with the utterly huge panoramic glass roof. The side windows are shallow and small, and they even don’t drop all the way down. I mean, wasn’t it such a huge sacrifice not to work out a back door that is able to store the whole side windows? The fact that Audi might have only put their sweat and tears into the design shows to boot space, too. With a volume of 366 liters it is slightly smaller than a BMW M2’s boot space, but half as much as a shorter Tesla Model 3 has to offer. I’ll leave the practicality aspects uncommented.
Is it a drivable roller coaster?
It all depends on how resistant you are to acceleration and g-forces. So, it absolutely can be huge fun. While the acceleration is smooth and progressive over whiplash-inducing, it’s still quite addictive. Audi has also introduced a fake engine noise like a few other manufacturers did – which is active in all modes but enhanced in “Dynamic”. You can even feel the two-speed gearbox on the rear axle – designed to ensure durability of the e-motors if you regularly launch start it – when you do just that. There’s a kick in the middle of the acceleration run as the transmission swaps its cogs, adding to the experience you wouldn’t get otherwise in a different performance EV.
Air suspension is optional in the quattro but standard in the RS verson. It mannered around town and was pliable on backroads. Motorways were very quiet in the e-Tron GT. Even in Dynamic mode, the Audi’s adaptive suspension soaked up bumps from expansion joints, choosing not to send them straight to the driver’s seat. This specific test car was on massive 21-inch wheels, yet the ride was pleasant and smooth – even if the road surface itself was far from it sometimes.
In a world where Tesla is claiming a 600, even 700km range on the latest Tesla Model S, the Audi’s almost 500km range will still be a limiting factor for some, whether they need to cover big distances regularly or not. But it shouldn’t be, because in every department this is a hugely impressive car: comfy enough to be a daily driver, but with face-melting acceleration in its locker; a practical four-door car, but with chiseled good looks – if the one sacrifice for accessing all that talent is planning your road trip routes carefully to incorporate some rapid charging, then it’s a small sacrifice to make.
Speaking of charging: The RS e-tron GT has a reach of 495km with one single charge on WLTP basis. Realistically, you will be able to drive at least slightly over 400km on motorways with a full battery during summer months and some less during winter. I guess that an efficient and clever driver might be able to get close to 480 kilometers of reach in mixed surroundings with possibilities to recuperate electricity. Sticking with recuperation. The e-tron GT hasn’t a “brake” driving mode that allows you to do a one-pedal-drive. Which makes the car feeling a kind of like a petrol-powered car. On the other hand, the pedals on the steering wheel allow you to ajust the the strength of the braking deceleration. But only attentive drivers notice the difference between the various braking strenghs.
Quickly concluded: The RS e-tron GT is an impressive car with e remarkable road presence, styling, agility and power output that doesn’t make you 100% feel to drive an electric car.
What should I buy?
This might be the hardest section to answer this question as diplomatic as possible. Although I will always prefer a petrol-powered car, the RS e-tron GT gained a soft spot. It is an incredibly good and ridiculously fast car. And is incredibly expensive, too.
I bet that the Audi is the financially better choice compared to the Porsche Taycan. And in terms of its looks, I’d still take the e-tron GT over the Porsche.
But if you compare high powered electric sedans like the BMW i4 M50 and Tesla Model S, due to the high price, the air gets thinner for the Audi. The Audi RS e-tron GT still offers a fraction more luxury and a lot more sex appeal that the cheaper, yet still impressive BMW i4.
And on the other hand; Does the RS e-tron GT really shows us the way where Audi wants to position its RS badge, the enthusiast’s badge? These thoughts leave me a bit concerned about what Audi wants “RS” to be in the future.
In the end, it’ll come down to which brand you prefer, which body you’re drawn to and how money you want to spend on a fast electric sedan, although I was slightly more drawn to the BMW i4 M50 due to the better cost-to-power-package.
To end this review, I wanted to thank Audi Switzerland for lending me their incredibly well specced Audi RS e-tron GT I had the opportunity to properly test drive for an extended weekend.