by Gerhard Horn
The 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT has some big shoes to fill. It's the first all-electric Audi to wear the famous RS nomenclature, which comes with huge expectations. Since the B7 RS4, Audi has consistently been churning out excellent performance variants of its standard range. This car needs to make a statement. Not only does the RS e-tron GT need to prove that the RS brand will live on into the age of electric power, but it must also fend off competition from cars like the Porsche Taycan Turbo, Tesla Model S, and Lucid Air. The RS isn't the fastest of this bunch, which seems shocking when you consider it has up to 637 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of only 3.1 seconds. But it does bring Audi build quality and luxury to the table, not to mention those sleek lines.
The RS e-tron GT is an all-new model and the first go-faster electric Audi. After playing it safe by launching an EV in the midsize SUV segment, Audi is now making a solid statement about its future. The future will be electric, but it seems as if everything is going to be fine when looking at this A7-sized four-door coupe with 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. Because this is an all-new model, Audi could go bonkers with the exterior and interior design. The RS e-tron GT shares multiple components with the Porsche Taycan, right down to the 114.2-inch wheelbase. We don't see that as a bad thing since the Taycan blew us away, but Audi's performance EV does set itself apart in several ways, however.
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|RS e-tron GT||
We can only imagine how fun it must have been to design this car. Porsche did all of the complex engineering work and likely handed over a set of limitations to the head designer. Since the Taycan uses a skateboard platform, the only fundamental limitation we can think of is the size of the wheelbase. Audi is making a bold statement with this car. Apart from having door handles, there is no other visual difference between the RS e-tron GT and the concept car Tony Stark drove in Avengers: Endgame.
There's a lot to unpack in the design department, but we'll just let you sit back and enjoy the images while we highlight some of our favorite design elements. Up front, we have typical Audi headlights, but without the gaudy grilles they've been using lately. The front view is dominated by substantial air intakes and a sort of inverted power bulge. Down the sides, you have those sensational Salma Hayek-like curves, and at the rear, there are huge light clusters that flow into each other via a striking LED light bar. 20-inch turbine design Aero wheels, orange brake calipers, and a carbon fiber roof are standard.
It's hard to judge the Audi's size looking at the images. For reference, it's more or less the same size as an Audi A7. In other words, a large sedan with a four-door coupe body bolted on top. The RS uses the same 114.2-inch wheelbase as the Taycan. It's a full inch longer than the Taycan at 196.4 inches and 0.4 inches wider at a full 84.9 inches including the mirrors. At 55 inches tall, it's slightly taller than the Taycan.
From these figures, it's quite obvious that Audi wanted to build a more user-friendly vehicle with more interior space. With that in mind, the e-tron's 5,139-pound curb weight is quite impressive. Even with the larger body, it only weighs 20 lbs more than the Taycan Turbo. It's still a hefty car, but we have to start looking at the weight of EVs in relative terms. Sure, the 5,000 lbs+ curb weight is a lot, but show us an EV that isn't a little heavy.
The only no-cost option is Ibis White, while the metallic palette colors retail for $595 each. You can also opt for a $3,900 Audi exclusive special paint color, though the configurator does not show what these colors are specifically. The seven metallic colors are Ascari Blue, Florett Silver, Kemora Gray, Mythos Black, Suzuka Gray, Tactical Green, and Tango Red. Daytona Gray Pearl is also available.
You can enhance the exterior by adding one of two 21-inch alloy wheel options. We're quite fond of the five twin-spoke alloys borrowed directly from the concept car. You have to make a long list of interior changes to get these wheels, increasing the already steep asking price by a shocking $20,350.
The Audi RS e-tron GT uses the same dual electric motor setup as the Porsche Taycan. The more powerful electric motor is housed at the car's rear and is mated to a 2-speed automatic transmission. The front-mounted electric motor is less powerful and only has a single-speed transmission.
Combined, the dual electric motors deliver 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. Like the Taycan, the Audi has a Boost Mode for brutal acceleration. This ramps the power up to 637 hp, which allows the RS e-tron GT to sprint to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. That's even quicker than the V10-engined R8 Performance supercar, in case you were wondering. The top speed is limited to 155 mph.
Since this is a fast Audi, it comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive. It's not AWD as we know it, however, and another first for Audi. The two electric motors are not mechanically linked, and therefore the system can respond much faster than the conventional quattro setup. Oddly, the RS e-tron GT can have more power, but it would mess with the Volkswagen Group's hierarchy. The Taycan Turbo S produces 616 hp, increasing to 750 hp on overboost. This allows the Porker to sprint to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. Why not give the Audi access to the full power delivery? Because if you want to go faster, buy a Porsche. That's how capitalism works. Still, we're pretty happy with doing 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds. Due to the nature of the power delivery, it feels just as fast as the fastest Porsche. At this point, acceleration times are purely academic.
The acceleration provided by these electric cars is so brutal that it's physically uncomfortable. Audi says you can launch it as hard as you want until the battery is drained, but you wouldn't want to. After three hard launches, your stomach will be rumbling worse than a 30-year-old washing machine filled with hammers.
The Audi has a dual electric motor setup that delivers 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. It can deliver up to 637 hp for short bursts. Most EVs use a single-speed transmission, but the rear-mounted motor in the e-tron has a two-speed transmission, so the Audi can comfortably sit at higher speeds too.
The main hallmark of an electric motor is the fierce and unrelenting acceleration at virtually any speed. There's no need to wait for a turbocharger to spool or for revs to build. You press down on the throttle, and the power is there. Thankfully, the Audi has a long-travel throttle to make the e-tron easier to drive. Modulating the throttle is easy, which is nice if you have that much power available in an instant. Around town, you don't need to use more than a tenth of the throttle travel, but on the freeway, you can press it deep into the carpet and overtake pretty much anything else on the same road.
As you know, a hefty curb weight harms handling. This puts the 5,000-pound Audi at a disadvantage, but Audi has gone above and beyond to make it feel light on its feet. The RS has a double-wishbone, three-chamber air suspension in front, and a multi-link air suspension at the back. Along with the adaptive suspension, you get three simple driving modes: Efficiency, Comfort, and Dynamic.
The Efficiency mode is irrelevant in a go-faster car like this, but the Comfort setting works a charm. The Audi glides like a well-sorted luxury car thanks to the bigger, wider body and softer damping in Comfort mode. This is a very quiet vehicle but tire noise does intrude at higher speeds. Getting a car this heavy to perform dynamically is not easy, but manufacturers have developed several hacks for getting around this problem over the years. These include torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering. The Audi has both, although the rear-wheel steering is an option.
It's not a performance sedan in the traditional sense. The front end isn't razor-sharp, and the steering does feel too light at times. Once again, if you want the ultimate electric track weapon, go to Porsche. The Audi has been tasked with being the grand tourer, which makes its lackluster driving range all the more disappointing. It can cover ground at an alarming pace, but it's such a pity that you have to stop for a top-up of electricity every 232 miles.
3.1 seconds to 60 used to mean that you'd be hit with horrendous fuel economy numbers but electric powertrains have changed that. Audi's claimed consumption figures for the RS e-tron GT are 79/82/81 MPGe city/highway/combined. It has a claimed range of just 232 miles. Historically, this has been the downfall of many EVs that go against the epic Model S. Porsche has the same problem with the more powerful Taycan Turbo S. Its latest EPA-estimated figures are 69/71/70 MGPe with a claimed range of 201 miles. According to the latest EPA figures, the Tesla Model S Plaid can do 102/99/101 MPGe and it has a range of 348 miles. However, Tesla makes regular updates to its vehicles and the latest claim from Elon Musk's team is that the Plaid has a 396-mile range. There's no disputing Tesla's dominance in this particular category.
Like the Porsche, the Audi can be charged at a 270 kW rapid charging point. When plugged into a fast charger, the battery can go from five percent to 80 percent in less than 23 minutes. Using a normal household socket, you're looking at roughly nine hours.
Just as Tesla is a dominant force in power and range, the Audi packs a massive punch in the interior department. It's a beautifully designed, high-quality space the Tesla simply can't match. We even prefer this interior over the Porsche's. In a strange but highly appreciated move, the RS doesn't use the dual-stacked screen layout found in other modern Audi's. There's one screen housed on top of the center console with the climate controls housed beneath that. It's a move away from the minimalist interiors Audi has become known for, but it's worth mentioning that the layout is logical and easy to understand. Besides, as the driver, you hardly have to interact with the center console display. The digital instrument cluster provides all the info you need.
The paddle shifters behind the steering wheel are proof that the interior designers spent some serious time thinking about how to make this car as accommodating as possible. You don't need paddles for a two-speed gearbox, but you can toggle up and down the various regenerative braking settings. More often than not, these settings are hidden within a sub-menu somewhere, which is frustrating considering how often you want to change them. Using these paddles for easy access to this feature is a stroke of genius. How has nobody thought of this before?
Audi claims the e-tron GT is a five-seater, but unless you adopted the Slenderman, the rear middle seat is no good. Like the Taycan, this is a strict four-seater, but it has more room. Front passengers get 41.9 inches of legroom, while rear passengers get 32.2 inches. Audi doesn't supply headroom figures, but we can tell you that six-footers would not be happy spending an extended time in the second row. Given the sheer size of the car, we were expecting more rear legroom. Even the significantly smaller Audi A3 sedan offers 35.1 inches of legroom in the back.
The seats are magnificent, however. They are comfortable, supportive, and upholstered in environmentally friendly materials.
Audi is quite proud that no animals were harmed in the making of the RS e-tron GT. The standard interior is leather-free and features recycled materials, and Audi somehow makes it feel sublime. If you don't mind whether Audi peels a cow or two, you can go for a full Nappa leather interior. The more upmarket leather interiors retail for $5,350, and you can choose between various combinations. The seats are available in Arras Red, Black, Monaco Gray, and Santos Brown. The Year One Package will cost $20,350 and adds, among other things, Nappa leather seats in black with red stitching and the RS interior design package with red stitching and red seat belts. The standard Natural Walnut wood inlays are replaced with matte carbon atlas inlays if you opt for either the Year One Package or the Carbon Performance Package ($8,450).
This is yet another department where the Audi doesn't deliver quite as expected. With no engine up front and a hatch-like rear, we were expecting impressive trunk and frunk figures. The actual figures are disappointing and less than you get in the Porsche Taycan. The frunk is only big enough for around two smaller soft bags, while the trunk gives you 9.2 cubes. You can fold the rear seats flat, but the trunk is too narrow to be anywhere near practical.
Interior storage space is limited as well. Front passengers get two cupholders, small door pockets, and a small storage compartment underneath the center armrest. Rear passengers get dual cupholders located in the center seat seatback.
As the halo EV in Audi's lineup, the RS e-tron GT comes with a lot of standard features. It has a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, a head-up display, power-adjustable front seats with a memory function for the driver, heated front/rear seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, keyless entry with push-button start, three-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, to name just a few. On the driver assistance side, Audi throws absolutely everything at the RS. It gets adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, front and rear collision mitigation, active lane keep and lane warning assist, evasion assist, and a 360-degree camera system.
The 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT sedan comes standard with a responsive 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. It also has Bluetooth connectivity and navigation with real-time traffic information. It's connected to a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D surround-sound system. This is the only available sound system for the RS e-tron GT, but thankfully it's a good one.
The electric Audi RS e-tron GT hasn't been around for long enough to suffer any recalls, but since it shares so much with the Taycan, it's worth looking at the Porsche's history. The 2020 model was recalled once for a software glitch. The 2021 model was recalled for a seat belt locker retractor malfunction, a front lower trailing arm not forged correctly, and suspension components not appropriately tightened. Given that this was the brand's first-ever EV, that's an impressively short list of faults that will hopefully all be fixed in the e-tron.
The RS comes standard with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty. Most significantly, Audi covers the battery with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHAs has yet conducted a safety review of the Audi RS e-tron GT. It's unlikely it will ever happen as cars above a certain price point are hardly smashed into concrete walls.
It's bound to be safe, however. The EV skateboard design allows for better-designed crumple zones at the front and rear. Audi's dedication to safety is demonstrated by the humbler e-tron SUV, which received positive reviews from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick + award from the IIHS.
The RS comes as standard with almost every modern driver assistance feature Audi has to offer. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, front and rear collision mitigation, active lane keep and lane warning assist, rear cross-traffic alert, vehicle exit warning, a head-up display, evasion assist, remote parking via a smartphone app, and a full 360-degree camera system are just a few of the highlights on a very long list.
In addition to all of the above, it has dual front, side, rear side, overhead, and knee airbags, plus pre-tensioning seatbelts, ABS, traction control, and stability control.
Let's cover the bad stuff first. The 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT costs more than a Tesla Model S Plaid, which is the new benchmark for straight-line performance. It's also less prestigious than the Porsche Taycan and surprisingly less practical in certain important departments. We also don't like that the RS is effectively neutered not to give Porsche any headaches. If you look at the pricing structure, you'll see a clear gap between the standard Taycans and the bonkers Turbo models. And that's where the Audi slots in. We simply don't like it when a car is not as good as it possibly could have been.
Having said that, we prefer the Audi over the Porsche in certain applications. We like the more sensible interior and suspension setup, plus the additional miles you get from the battery pack. It also has a much nicer interior and more standard features. What we like most is the choice. The EV segment is still extremely limited, and until recently, the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan were basically your only electric options in this segment. A little bit of competition is not just good for consumers, but the manufacturers as well. Porsche and Audi will push Tesla to design better interiors and improve its build quality. And Tesla will push Audi and Porsche to work on getting more range out of cars.
The price of the 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT starts at $139,900, excluding the $1,045 destination charge in the USA. The price does increase quite dramatically once you add the available optional packages, though, as you'll see lower down. By comparison, the Tesla Model S Plaid begins at an MSRP of $129,990 and the Porsche Taycan Turbo starts at $150,900.
There is only one RS e-tron GT, and it sits at the top of the recently introduced e-tron GT lineup.
It uses a dual electric motor setup that provides 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. When using launch control, it will up the power to 637 hp. No other configurations are available. With launch control engaged, it gets to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.
Audi's driver assistance suite includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, front and rear collision mitigation, active lane keep and lane warning assist, evasion assist, and a full 360-degree camera system.
The RS has a beautiful interior that uses two large screens for information and infotainment purposes. The driver gets a large 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while the passenger can operate the infotainment via a smaller high-resolution 10.1-inch touchscreen. The infotainment package includes navigation with real-time traffic information, wired Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay. It's connected to a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D surround-sound system. Other luxuries include power-adjustable front seats, heating for both seating rows, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, keyless entry with push-button start, three-zone climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Since this is a more eco-conscious performance vehicle, Audi sells it with a leather-free interior in standard form, although Nappa leather upholstery is available.
There is one no-cost option, and it lets you swap the standard carbon-fiber roof for a panoramic glass roof. You can also have the single-frame front-end grille in the body color for $350.
The Full Leather Interior Package retails for $5,350 and adds a full leather interior, fine Nappa leather perforated seats with RS honeycomb stitching, ventilated front seats with a massage function, RS 18-way power-adjustable front sport seats, an RS three-spoke perforated flat-bottom steering wheel, and Dinamica headliner. The Carbon Performance Package adds 21-inch bi-color alloy wheels, matte carbon atlas inlays, illuminated carbon fiber door sill inlays, black badges and Audi rings, rear-wheel steering, and HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light and animation.
The Year One Package seems a bit steep at $20,350, but it is a good way of adding all of the features above by ticking only one option box. It also adds dynamic power steering and carbon-ceramic brakes with red calipers. The carbon-ceramic brakes alone are easily worth 50% of the Year One Package's asking price, so it's worth going for while you still can.
There is only one model and not a lot of options to work with. We'd have ours in Daytona Gray Pearl with the Year One Package. The price for an RS e-tron GT in this specification is $161,890, including destination charges.
The VW Group overlords ensured there was no overlap between these two models. The RS starts at $139,900, while the Taycan Turbo retails for $150,900. The base Turbo uses the same dual electric motor setup, which provides up to 670 hp and 626 lb-ft and a 0-60 mph time of three seconds flat. The Audi has 590 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque and will take a split second longer to hit 60. We know design is subjective, but the Audi looks glorious. The Porsche is more futuristic, but we think the Audi will age better. Interior-wise, the Audi wins hands down, but that doesn't mean the Porsche is terrible. In fact, the Taycan's 16.9-inch curved digital driver display is enough of a reason to have it over the Audi. Audi claws back some points by offering a range of 232 miles vs the Porsche Taycan Turbo's 212 miles. Choosing between these two will come down to personal preference. Both are epic cars. We'd have the Audi because of the affordability factor. Get the RS, include the Year One Package, and you have a blistering four-door electric coupe with all the good stuff.
This is the big one that both Audi and Porsche have to go up against. Tesla's EV powertrains are a few steps ahead, not just when it comes to its brutal power specs but also efficiency and range. Porsche's recent partnership with Rimac will undoubtedly decrease the gap in coming years, but for now, the Tesla comes with a set of unbeatable figures. The Plaid has a tri-motor setup delivering 1,020 hp, a claimed range of 396 miles, and a 0-60 mph sprint time of less than two seconds. Tesla keeps on moving the game forward, but the German rivals are catching up quickly. The only reason to buy the Audi over the Tesla is that you may be vehemently opposed to its CEO and his fanboys. And we can't say that we blame you. Any manufacturer with its own dating app is a bit cult-like. Also, don't forget about the continued build quality issue. Still, there's no denying the Plaid's dominance. It is the EV of the moment, and with good reason.
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