Audi’s RS E-tron GT promises to be one of the most engaging EVs on the market, but is it better than the Porsche Taycan?
As a brand that has promised to be exclusively electric by 2033 – a decade from now – it makes sense that Audi is well and truly getting on with its electric transition.
From 2026, the brand will exclusively launch EVs, leaving its extensive portfolio of combustion-powered cars to live out their lifecycles.
And it isn’t just SUVs that Audi will transition to electric power. While its handsome, electric E-tron crossover will be facelifted and renamed the Q8 E-tron later this year, Audi’s classic sporty sedans will be hauled into the electric era too.
In that vein, we’re happy to report that the wait for the E-tron GT super-sedan is finally over in Australia, with the liftback-style saloon launched in standard ($180,200) and RS ($248,200) forms in Canberra last month. Some buyers already have their hands on their cars.
The Australian launch was substantially delayed because Audi has favoured sending the limited supply of the E-tron GT to markets with tax penalties for buying petrol vehicles – the European release was in March 2021 while New Zealand got the car in August last year.
According to Audi Australia general manager Jeff Mannering, the high-end E-tron GT is already proving to be a hit with Australian customers, though deliveries were still sub-20 cars in December 2022.
Still, that’s a decent result for an expensive performance flagship. The 350kW E-tron GT starts from $180,200 before on-road costs in Australia, and what’s more, the majority of December 2022 deliveries were for the 350kW RS E-tron GT that starts from $248,200 before on-roads.
Considering that this E-tron GT shares underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, a high-performance EV that has already established itself in Australia with more than 1000 local sales, it seems Audi has a serious battle on its hands to win over buyers in the high-performance EV space. So, has the four-ringed brand done enough to do so?
Starting at $180,200, the E-tron GT represents the entry point to the range in Australia. As you’d expect from the high-$100k starting point in the range, it’s an exceptionally well outfitted vehicle – and better value than an equivalently-priced Porsche Taycan.
Power comes from a 85kWh (usable) lithium ion battery that’s mounted in the floor of the vehicle. This feeds two electric motors, one on each axle, that produce combined outputs of 350kW/630Nm in standard mode.
In boost mode, these motors can up peak outputs to 390kW and 640Nm, giving the E-tron GT a claimed 0-100kmh time of 4.1 seconds. Like the Porsche Taycan, power is sent to all four wheels through a two-speed transmission, but in the E-tron GT’s case, Audi claims that it’s a quattro system.
With its 800-volt architecture, the E-tron GT can be charged at a maximum DC rate of 268kW, and a maximum AC rate of 11kW. According to the WLTP testing cycle, it can travel up to 487km on a single charge.
In terms of exterior appointments, the E-tron GT gets a fixed glass roof, and an acoustic vehicle alerting sound system as standard.
An electric boot lid and LED matrix headlights are also standard equipment. A black exterior package is a $4,550 option, as is the single-frame mask front-end design in body colour.
Adaptive air suspension is standard, but those looking for all-wheel steering on the entry-level E-tron GT will have to opt for it as part of a package.
On the inside, nappa leather upholstery is standard, as are powered seats that are heated. It’s the same story for three-zone climate control, and the auxiliary air conditioning system that can warm or cool the interior of the car via the Audi app.
In terms of tech, there’s a 12.3-inch digital cluster and a head-up display system that projects onto the windscreen. In the centre of the dash sits a 10.1-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation as well as wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.
Wireless phone charging, and a Bang and Olufsen 16-speaker sound system also comes as standard.
At $248,200 before on-road costs is the flagship RS E-tron GT, and although it’s very similar aesthetically and hardware-wise to the standard E-tron GT, performance is the reason why it commands a $68,00 premium.
The RS E-tron GT makes use of the same 85kWh battery, but the dual electric motor system produces a hefty 440kW and 830Nm in this application. Boost mode brings peak power to 475kW, and it’ll complete the 0-100km/h sprint in an exceptionally fast 3.3-seconds.
Aside from the performance differences, these cars are basically identical in every way on the power train and battery fronts, except for the RS E-tron GT getting a WLTP range rating of just 433km.
Standard kit is also very similar between the E-tron GT variants, but the RS adds all-wheel steering, and a rear locking electronic differential as standard. Those looking for extra braking power can opt for carbon ceramic brakes on the RS.
The black pack is standard kit on the RS, as is the RS E-tron sport sound, which can be customised via the drive selector.
On the inside, the RS is distinguished by the nappa leather sports seats that are powered and add a cooling system. Other than this, standard equipment is basically the same in the cabin.
A plethora of option packages are available in the E-tron GT range, with most working to bring the entry-level EV up to spec with the RS.
The highlights include a dynamic plus package which adds the e-LSD, all-wheel steering, and tungsten brakes to the E-tron GT, the RS design package that adds coloured accents and an alcantara steering wheel to the RS, and a charging package, which adds a 22kW AC onboard charger.
With up to 475kW and 830Nm on tap, there’s no denying that Audi’s RS E-tron GT packs a serious punch – especially in the case of an unprepared passenger. In my experience, anything that can break the 3.5-second mark to 100km/h is brutally quick, and this RS E-tron GT is no exception.
During independent testing, Chasing Cars found that the RS E-tron GT will consistently beat its own claim, managing two best runs of 3.26-seconds.
Unlike a lot of high-performance ICE-powered vehicles, the first few metres of acceleration are the most intense – for a couple of reasons.
One: all 830Nm of torque is deployed as soon as the accelerator is pressed, and two: the electric quattro system wastes no time in ensuring that there’s more than enough grip at all four wheels for the E-tron to rocket down the pavement.
The intensity of acceleration is even more exceptional when you consider that the Audi tips the scales at over 2.4-tonnes.
Those who have been around high-performance vehicles for some time might feel a twinge in their lower backs at just the thought of an AMG, M, or RS badge, but this shouldn’t be the case for the E-tron GT. Besides its blistering straight line pace, I’d say that the other highlight of the E-tron GT on the road is its impeccable ride.
As Audi’s drive select comes standard in the E-tron GT, drivers are able to change the car’s feeling on the go, and on the ride front, I’m yet to find a setting that isn’t comfortable.
Obviously the likes of efficiency and comfort allow for the most compliant ride over standard roads, but I was most surprised to find that even when in dynamic mode, the RS E-tron GT was extremely comfortable.
In saying that, it’s not hard to find the limit of the air suspension system at speed.When a decent divot in the road is hit at speed, it unsettles the car, and breaks the illusion of feeling like you’re free from regular traffic constraints in this futuristic-feeling electric sports car.
This likely isn’t helped by the 21-inch wheels that the RS rides on as standard, and unfortunately for us small wheel enthusiasts, the smaller 20-inch alloys aren’t an option.
Handling is a curious one with the Audi RS E-tron GT, because it’s hard not to go into it with expectations that it’s going to match the Porsche Taycan.
In the case of the Porsche, it set a benchmark for handling in the high performance EV segment that nothing has seemed to match.
A lot of this comes down to the fact that these high performance EVs feel more like appliances than soulful, enthusiast’s cars, but the Taycan’s lightweight and direct steering gave it an edge above the others.
This brings me to the steering of the RS E-tron GT, which isn’t quite at the Taycan’s level of performance authenticity. In dynamic mode, the steering is quick, but lacks any real road feeling, and in doing so, misses out on being the direct link to the pavement that many performance enthusiasts yearn for.
Braking follows a similar theme in the RS E-tron GT, as the Audi engineers were given the almost impossible task of attempting to blend regenerative braking with the feeling of a traditional system.
This has resulted in a braking setup that makes use of an enormous (410mm rotors, six piston calipers at the front) brake assembly that takes a bit of getting used to. Audi stated that the first 0.3 Gs of braking is done exclusively by the regenerative system, and anything above this is reliant on the calipers.
Stopping power is immense with this system, but the lack of linearity in the pedal feels a little unnerving at the limit. To Audi’s credit, the system is very consistent with its feeling, so it shouldn’t take drivers too long to get their heads around it.
As I mentioned, grip levels are absurd in the RS E-tron GT, and this is the case for launching as much as it is in the corners.
In terms of rubber, the Audi wears 265s at the front, and 305s on the rear, so there’s no shortage of contact with the road at any point. Given that body is more or less nonexistent, the E-tron GT eats up corners with ease, to the point where it seems grip levels are seemingly limitless.
As you’d expect, pushing hard enough will eventually reveal the grip limits of the tyres, but by this point, most would already be astounded by how quickly the E-tron GT can get through corners.
Given the extremely advanced traction control system in the electric motors, drivers can have confidence in nailing the throttle out of corners, and knowing that the car will effortlessly accelerate whilst staying in a straight line.
On the road, the RS E-tron GT is extremely refined, and is almost impossible to fault as a grand tourer.
Road noise is almost non-existent, and the silent electric powertrain makes for a very elegant drive. Audi has included what it calls the RS E-tron sport sound for those that are looking for some aural satisfaction whilst accelerating, which is a little on the gimmicky side, but is fun to play with.
I’d say that the most remarkable thing about this RS E-tron GT is its ability to drive like it doesn’t weigh more than a standard dual-cab ute. The enormous curb weight is hidden by that massive torque figure, and although the handling doesn’t quite match that of the Porsche Taycan, it’s a competent package on the road.
Given that so much is shared with the Taycan in the RS E-tron GT, I expected the interior to feel quite Porsche-like, but was pleasantly surprised to see that this isn’t the case.
There’s no question as to whether it’s an Audi cabin or not, with the German brand’s signature design cues very evident. Both RS’ on the local launch were fitted with the RS design package that added an alcantara steering wheel, nappa leather upholstery with red stitching, and red seat belts.
We’d prefer it if you could swap the alcantara wheel out for a leather item, because this porous textile tends to age poorly due to the oils in your hands.
You can find a few Porsche odds and ends if you go looking: the basic seat bones, seat adjustment and steering wheel adjustment controls are lifted from the Taycan.
Paired with the carbon paneling and alcantara door cards, this makes for an extremely premium feeling cabin that makes no secret of the absurd performance of the RS.
The 10.1-inch screen is easy enough to use, but the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is the highlight in my eyes.
Despite the futuristic feeling of the cabin, you won’t find any haptic touch panels, as all the climate controls are traditional buttons, and the same goes for all the controls on the steering wheel.
It’s also worth noting that Audi obviously puts a lot of effort into ensuring that its buttons are perfectly weighted, which makes for some of the most satisfying clicks in the industry.
As standard, the RS E-tron GT gets a pair of reasonably serious looking bucket seats, but the bolstering isn’t as tough as it looks.
This means that the seats are supportive through fast cornering, but have retained an impressive level of comfort. These seats also have power adjustment, heating, ventilation, and a massaging function can be had as an optional extra.
In the second row, passenger space isn’t exactly plentiful, and it wouldn’t be the most comfortable place to be during a long drive. The seating position is quite low due to the low-slung roof, so visibility isn’t great out of the rear windows.
Though leg space isn’t great, this is somewhat remedied by the fact that there’s a ‘foot garage’ built into the platform, allowing rear seat passengers to comfortably place their feet beneath the front seats.
In terms of luggage space, there’s 350 litres on offer in the boot, and a further 85 litres beneath the bonnet, in the frunk.
In saying this, the frunk will most likely be taken up by charging cables the majority of the time, so the space behind the rear seats is really the only option. You’d likely manage to fit a couple of medium-sized suitcases back here, but don’t be expecting to load up for a family holiday.
The RS E-tron GT is yet to be tested by ANCAP, NCAP, or America’s NHTSA outfit. Despite this, its close cousin, the Porsche Taycan was tested by NCAP back in 2019, where it received a five-star rating.
Audi’s full suite of advanced safety features comes standard on the E-tron GT range, including adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, blind spot warning, and a 360 degree camera just to name a few.
As you’d expect, the systems used in the E-tron GT are some of the most refined on the market, without an overbearing feeling. An example of this is the lane-keeping assist system that will gently adjust the steering wheel to keep the vehicle in the centre of the lane, via gentle inputs.
Standard safety equipment on the RS E-tron GT includes:
As is the case for most performance vehicles, the RS E-tron GT is quite thirsty on the energy consumption front.
Audi claims a combined figure of 20.2kWh/100km, but we found this quite difficult to achieve during the local launch of the vehicle.
We found that the car would sit in the 24-25kWh/100km region during country touring, and the highest we saw whilst pushing the car was 27kWh/100km. These real-world figures are reflected by the European WLTP (TEH) rating of 22.5kWh/100km rating that the RS E-tron GT received.
The RS E-tron GT uses an 85kWh-usable lithium-ion battery. Based on our 24kWh/100km figure, the real range in the RS E-tron GT is 354 km. Thankfully, that battery can be replenished to 80 percent (283 km) in just 23 minutes thanks to the 270kW charging capability.
Audi Australia has confirmed that the E-tron GT is both regular and RS grades are covered by the brand’s 6-6-6 offer.
This means that six years (or 90,000km) of scheduled servicing, six years free public charging (via Chargefox), and six years roadside assistance is all complimentary. Service intervals are every 24 months, or 30,000km.
The E-tron GT is also covered under Audi’s five year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
There’s no denying that the Audi RS E-tron GT is an incredible performance car first, and an EV second. Unlike a lot of other electric vehicles in modern times that try to walk the line between performance and efficiency, this Audi prioritises agility. The lack of tailpipe emissions are just a bonus.
Despite sharing underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan, the RS E-tron GT feels like a true RS-badged Audi at its core. Incredible levels of grip, acceleration, and refinement make this evidently clear.
Where it falls short of its Taycan cousin is in the overall level of sportiness in performance, but that’s something symptomatic of Audi vehicles in modern times.
Aside from the performance, this RS E-tron GT will be a joy to live with as the ride from the air suspension is superb, and the cabin effortlessly blends performance and luxury with the best of them.
Porsche’s GTS badge conveys extra sportiness and everyday drivability – for many, it’s the sweet spot. Is the Taycan GTS the sportiest, smartest EV to buy?
Key specs (as tested)
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