Your cart is currently empty!
The 2021 Audi RS E-tron GT is one of the best electric cars out there. It’s gorgeous, sophisticated, incredibly powerful, but it is also very, very expensive.
The result is everything an electric sports sedan is supposed to be: fast, opulent, and a bit stubborn in its adherence to traditional design. While some electric cars are just high-end computers in the shape of a car, the Audi E-tron GT is interested in being a car first. There’s no oppressively huge touchscreen, no undercooked semi-autonomous safety system, nothing that should give anyone with a big enough bank account any reason to pause before clicking “yes” on a purchase.
FAST, OPULENT, AND A BIT STUBBORN IN ITS ADHERENCE TO TRADITIONAL DESIGN
But all that elegance and power don’t come cheap. The Audi RS E-tron GT, which starts at $140,000( NGN57,680,000 )is more expensive than the Taycan, the Tesla Model S, and the Mercedes-Benz EQS. It’s also pricier than the Audi RS7, which is a luxurious speed demon in its own right. As far as I can tell, it’s more expensive than most luxury EVs, a segment that is growing rapidly.
The RS E-tron GT boasts 440kW, or about 590 horsepower, and in overboost mode, that number jumps to 637 horsepower. It can sprint to 60mph (100 km/h) in 3.3 seconds — not as quick as 2.2 seconds boasted by the Taycan Turbo S, but certainly impressive when you consider the E-Tron GT weighs over 5,000 pounds.
I’ve driven enough EVs that the thrill of near-instantaneous torque has lost a bit of its shine. Nonetheless, the RS E-tron GT managed to get my blood pumping every time I stomped on that accelerator: the skittering sound of fall leaves blasting out from under the back 21-inch tires, and then a whoosh as I was shoved back into the leather seats. (Artificial leather and microfiber are also available as an option.)
The steering felt accurate, and the slight body roll felt necessary to give the driver a good sense of the road. The RS gets torque-vectoring and rear-axle steering as standard, while base model owners will need to cough up an extra $6,000 for those features. The wedge-shaped body handled itself ably on especially curvy roads, and the brakes were extremely efficient at hauling the Audi down from speed — which is good because, when driving this car, you tend to use the brakes a lot.
The E-tron GT makes an artificial sound at low speed. Photo by Phil Esposito / The Verge
RS translates from the German Renn Sport, which literally means racing sport. Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge
There are two charging ports, one on either side. Photo by Phil Esposito / The Verge
When charging the Audi RS E-tron GT, you inevitably run into the same problems as you would with every electric car that isn’t a Tesla: the lack of a proprietary network of EV chargers. That said, the E-tron GT doesn’t lack in options. There are connections for alternating current on both sides, and on the right, there is also a connection for direct current.
Audi claims that its 800-volt system enables ultra-fast charging. Just five minutes on a high-speed charging network like Volkswagen’s Electrify America, and the E-tron GT will recover 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, of range. As always, the company is assuming a rate of charge that typically exceeds what most chargers, even fast chargers, actually dole out.
Audi does not have its own charging network, like Tesla. Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge
It took several days of driving to drain the battery below 40 percent. I charged it once at home using the 120-volt outlet in my garage, only adding a couple miles of range after a full eight hours of trickle charging. I also charged it at a public DC fast charger, where it took 42 minutes to charge from 45 percent to 80 percent. That was at a 45kW rate — less than half the advertised top rate of 150kW.
The micro-suede steering wheel is incredible. Photo by Phil Esposito / The Verge
The rear-facing camera also offers a cool 3D rendering of the vehicle. Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge
There is a lot of carbon fiber in this car. Photo by Phil Esposito / The Verge
To step inside the E-tron GT is to enter a familiar world. There’s a touchscreen display and physical buttons for the HVAC system. The air vents are real air vents. There’s a center console, gear stalk, and other physical touchpoints that may seem quaint in an EV world dominated by Tesla. This is not an aggressively minimized EV interior, nor is it one designed to overwhelm the senses. Sure, there’s a lot of carbon fiber — maybe too much? — but the overall look and feel of the interior is sleek and compact.
Front-seat space is generous, but the cockpit is noticeably narrow, and the view out the back window is limited. I think I may have pulled a muscle trying to get in and out of this car, thanks to the low height and smallish door openings. The RS model comes with black leather sport seats with red stitching, which really hug your body and are designed with 14 different adjustable settings, climate control, massage functions — you name it. The steering wheel was covered in a soft suede that was absolutely dynamite to touch.
FRONT-SEAT SPACE IS GENEROUS, BUT THE COCKPIT IS NOTICEABLY NARROW
The Audi RS E-tron GT is an incredible car to drive, full stop. Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge
The base model E-tron GT comes with a glass roof that can’t be opened and isn’t tinted enough to block the sun. The RS version that I drove, however, swaps that out for an all-carbon-fiber roof. The vehicle already tips the scales at 5,000 pounds, so it seems like Audi went with the carbon fiber to save a little bit of weight.
The 10.1-touchscreen runs on Audi’s totally serviceable MIB3 software, which wirelessly supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One of my favorite features was the backup camera, which includes a 3D rendering of the vehicle to help navigate those especially tight parking spaces. Otherwise, the infotainment system was pretty bland. I liked the built-in nav system — the directional cues were easy to follow, and the map itself wasn’t overly cluttered — but considering it runs off of a Google API, there was no compelling reason not to just run Google Maps through CarPlay instead.
THE INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM WAS PRETTY BLAND