Review: 2023 Audi RS e-tron GT - The thinking man's Taycan Turbo?
Shaun · Sep 8, 2023 09:01 PM
You might recall the Audi e-tron GT making an appearance in Avengers: Endgame, with Tony Stark behind the wheel. That alone would secure its spot in the "Sub Zero" category on the classic Top Gear Cool Wall.
Overview: 2023 Audi RS e-tron GT
RM 808,790 with AAP
Dual-motor AWD, with 2-speed transmission for the rear
93.4 kWh (gross)
22 kW AC, 270 kW DC, CCS2
495 km (WTLP)
646 PS (boost)
3.36 seconds (as tested)
However, let’s be real here; it’s unlikely to win favours from badge-conscious buyers when its sibling, the Porsche Taycan which it shares the same J1 platform with, is also on the market. Audi is undoubtably a premium brand but Porsche is… well, Porsche.
Given their close relationship, it’s difficult to talk about one without mentioning the other, especially now when both are on sale in the Malaysian market. So, in this review, we’ll delve into the Audi RS e-tron GT and find out where your RM 800k should be placed.
Exterior – An R8 e-tron 4-door coupe
While it shares a platform with the Taycan, it features a distinctly Audi exterior. The single-frame grille and sharp creases on the body remind everyone that it's an Audi. The animated light patterns in both the headlights and taillights add a sense of occasion.
The front end is reminiscent of the sexy Audi R8, and I would describe the e-tron GT’s exterior as “an R8 e-tron 4-door coupe.” Yes, Audi did make an all-electric R8 once upon a time, which was short-lived but I digress.
Compared to the Porsche Taycan, its sibling from Stuttgart showcases a more streamlined and cleaner design with unique touches like powered charging ports and pop-out door handles. But as time has passed and more of them have hit the roads, it doesn't quite command the attention it once did. One effective way to keep your exterior looking new and shiny it’s to know how to detail your car.
The RS e-tron GT, on the other hand, gets plenty of onlookers from virtually all demographics. Just take a look at it from the rear, with muscular haunches and a wrap-around rear light section that gives it such a menacing presence.
This is the range-topping RS variant, with exclusive items like the 21-inch black five-twin-spoke concave module wheels and Glossy carbon styling package with carbon-fibre exterior mirror housings.
Though personally, I’m not too fond of the all-black wheels and would prefer the triangular pieces to be finished in silver as seen in overseas markets.
Interior – Not futuristic, but built like a tank
Stepping inside the RS e-tron GT, you're greeted by an Audi-typical interior – understated yet functional. Unlike the majority of EVs currently on the market, physical buttons and toggles dominate the cabin. And being an Audi, build quality is faultless and every button gives satisfyingly tactile feedback.
Admittedly, there’s less wow factor compared to the Porsche Taycan’s raft of screens and ultimately doesn't quite match the Taycan's premium feel. But having a touch-centric design can be challenging to use while driving, and this is where the e-tron GT has the upper hand.
Case in point - physical tabs to adjust the air vents, it’s infinitely more intuitive than having to go through menus. I also prefer the more ergonomic placement of the gear selector that’s on the centre console instead of on the dashboard.
The 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit (digital instrument cluster) is crisp with great contrast but more importantly, easy to navigate via the buttons on the left side of the steering wheel. Audi is, after all, one of the pioneers of this modern trend of customisable digital instrument displays.
The 10.1-inch infotainment display may be on the smaller side by today’s standards and personally, I must admit that I don't find the graphics particularly visually appealing. It evokes memories of older Sony Ericsson phones in terms of aesthetics. But there is no denying its user friendliness.
Audio reproduction from the Bang & Olufsen sound system is lovely. Its presentation is on the leaner side of things, meaning there’s no trace of fat or thickness in the lower frequencies that tends to muddy the rest of the range. What you get is a clean and nicely layered sound.
A weakness would be its storage and practicality. The absence of cupholders in the door compartments, the tiny storage space under the armrest (will not fit my phone with the cable plugged in), and the centre console cutout that rarely serves any purpose.
Also worth noting is that it took me significantly longer than I'd like to admit to locate the button for accessing the front trunk, only to discover that it's situated on the edge of the driver's side door panel.
Space at the rear is impressive considering its sloping roofline and slim side profile. Like the Taycan, battery placement is routed around the rear floor so that it's not elevated, preventing rear passengers from having to sit in an uncomfortable crouched posture.
Driving Experience – A grand tourer first, sports car second
To drive, it resembles the Taycan, no surprises there. Seating position is excellent, offering a low posture with legs stretched out, akin to a sports car. However, if I were to nitpick, I wish the pedals were slightly more to the right for that ultimate level of perfection.
Visibility isn't as impressive as it is in the Taycan, primarily because of the elevated window line and the height of the cowl. The rearview also leaves something to be desired.
Fortunately, the 360-degree view camera comes to the rescue, offering a clear perspective with precise markings to aid in navigating tight spaces. This feature plus the rear-wheel steering prove especially valuable because the e-tron GT is a rather sizable car.
But once you get going, it does that Porsche magic of making you feel like the car shrinks around you, and you hardly notice its size nor its weight in normal driving situations. The sense of cohesiveness from the Taycan is present, but the calibration is identifiably Audi.
The steering imparts a lighter sensation, and the throttle response lacks the razor-sharp precision found in the Taycan; it feels a little muted overall in comparison. Engaging Dynamic mode does provide some improvement in responsiveness, but it still doesn't quite match the Taycan's level of poise.
The feeling of restraint also translates to its handling in curves. It effectively masks its weight and goes around corners in a relatively flat manner, making it an enjoyable drive as long as you don't push it beyond about 7 or 8 tenths of its capability.
However, if you push it further, you'll notice its inclination to understeer when entering a turn, even with rear-wheel steering and more so compared to the Taycan. And the electronic nannies don’t appreciate that sort of driving. It's a car that thrives on extended high-speed bends rather than twisty, narrow B-roads.
Frankly speaking, I don’t fault it for this behaviour at all. It’s a GT after all, with the RS badge adding blistering acceleration to its repertoire. In fact, it currently holds the title as the fastest car ever tested by WapCar, achieving a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 3.36 seconds.
No one needs that level of performance, but if we were to base our lives on needs, what’s the use of progress?
If there is one complaint I have for the e-tron GT or the Taycan for that matter, it’s the lack of single-pedal driving mode. They have said that it’s not the most efficient way of driving, but I would still like to have that option, and a stronger regen braking when lifting off the accelerator.
Ride Comfort – Ride quality that befits a “GT”
The "GT" in the name is crucial here because it excels in the ride department. Even on its 21-inch wheels, the air suspension rides fluidly without the extra, unwanted bouncing and tilting that can often occur in many other taller EVs.
Comfort mode simply dials out road imperfections and even in Dynamic mode, the trade off in comfort is negligible while offering slightly more road feedback into the cabin.
It goes over speed bumps with a delicate touch, including the larger ones that might make you prepare for an impact, but it handles them gracefully, like a cat’s landing after leaping off a wall.
Complementing the excellent ride quality are the beautifully sculptured seats both front and rear. It offers plenty of support for the sides, shoulders, and thighs, with no pressure points around the back. Excellent stuff.
A chink in the armour would be in the noise department. While wind and exterior noises are well supressed, tyre noise is evident. After all, it rides on 265 section tyres at the front and enormous 305 section at the rear. Noise wise, the Mercedes-Benz EQS is a noticeably more isolating car to travel in.
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT - Cabin noise level
Over a 127.4 km trip with a mix of city and highway driving, the trip computer indicated an average energy consumption of 20.9 kWh/100 km. Regenerative braking was left in automatic mode and there’s no single-pedal driving as mentioned above.
The calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 22.6 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive charges to 80 percent.
On a side note, when I visited the Gentari DC charger at X Park Sunway Serene to utilise the 350 kW charger, one nozzle was unavailable, and the other was in use. As for the 180 kW charger, the right-hand side bay was occupied, but the left-hand side nozzle was in use, and unfortunately, the e-tron GT couldn't use the right-hand side nozzle.
Effectively, there was no accessible DC charger at that time. Fortunately, the generous chap using the 350 kW charger graciously handed over the charger once he had achieved sufficient charge.
So therein lies the questions - How many are as considerate as the one I encountered? How often are chargers down? Is home charging the only place you can rely on?
Putting the charging issues aside, the Audi RS e-tron GT is a lovely EV. From the looks, driving experience, well-sorted ride, and user-friendly interior that's solidly built, it has the ability to make everyday driving a special occasion – it makes you feel special walking up to the car and driving off.
The Porsche Taycan is a more focused car to drive, though the distinction from the e-tron GT isn't night and day. And I'd argue that the e-tron GT has a stronger road presence than the Taycan.
Plus, with an RM 800k budget, you'd only be getting the Taycan GTS, which is slightly less powerful. The RS e-tron GT cleverly positions itself between the Taycan GTS and Taycan Turbo in terms of performance, leaning closer to the Turbo in terms of power.
In a hypothetical scenario in which I have to give up combustion engines, I'd go for the e-tron GT or Taycan. And when deciding between the two, with RM 800k to spend, I'd opt for the RS e-tron GT. For one, it has a much shorter delivery time, and it's the top-of-the-line model.
On the other hand, with the Taycan GTS or even the Turbo, there's still the Turbo S to consider. If I were in a Turbo and a Turbo S pulled up next to me at a traffic light, I'd find it hard to live with myself. Then again, if you have the privilege of choosing between the two, who cares what someone on the internet thinks?
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.