Audi RS e-Tron GT Road Test Review

HOOD RIVER, Oregon — The Columbia River Gorge was created when a glacial lake half the size of Lake Michigan emptied repeatedly during the last ice age. And we’re not talking about pulling the plug in a bathtub — more like placing an explosive charge at the Long Beach Aquarium. An ice dam on the Clark Fork River, about 2,000 feet high at its maximum, would inevitably heat up, rupture catastrophically and send a catastrophic deluge of water into the Pacific Ocean at 80 mph. It would then build up again and start the process all over again, an estimated 40 times, eventually cutting a fjord-like cut through the Cascades over about 2,000 years — the blink of an eye in geological terms.

We are currently on the cusp of a similar reshaping of the automotive landscape, and while the widespread adoption of electric vehicles certainly seems delayed and delayed, it is happening in a relative instant. Not too long ago, Audi trotted TDI diesels and shoehorned Lamborghini V10s into the A6, but here we are with the 2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT – an all-electric car that’s not some quirky eco-mobile, but legit one of the best cars to drive. In fact, it’s a Porsche Taycan in Audi attire, so the latter shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but it’s a complete package of automotive excellence nonetheless, proving once again that an electric future won’t be a bad thing.

The RS E-Tron GT has a collective power of 590 hp through the front and rear electric motors, or 637 hp for a few seconds in Boost mode. Torque stays at 612 pound-feet regardless of mode and engages instantly – you can feel all four wheels slip as you plant your foot, your neck snaps back and everyone in the cars around you wonders where that one blue Audi has remained. You could compare it to a burst dam suddenly unleashing half of Lake Michigan, but that metaphor has already been used. Audi says it can reach 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds in Boost mode, which is just a tenth of the more powerful Taycan Turbo. And in case you’re wondering: both the RS E-Tron GT and the 464 hp E-Tron GT fall in terms of total power between the Taycan 4S and Turbo. The Audi also gets Porsche’s unique two-speed rear transmission, which allows the E-Tron GT to shift up a gear at 65-plus mph to improve efficiency.

Like the Taycans, the RS E-Tron GT does its most amazing job on twisty roads. The long, easy sweeps of Highway 14 on the Washington side of the Gorge offer the first real taste of a supremely unflappable car – a quick detour along Salmon Falls Road and back really sets the target. Emphasis on fast. The E-Tron GT is tall and comically wide, with a center of gravity practically underground thanks to a 93.4 kilowatt battery pack and a low roof made of carbon fiber in the RS rather than glass. Then there’s the available rear-wheel steering, which turns a maximum of 2.8 degrees – just enough to effectively shrink this long car, but not enough to make it feel like a Disney ride like it does in the Mercedes EQS – and of course there’s all-wheel drive. Both are particularly helpful when traversing the razor-sharp switchbacks of Salmon Falls, which are unsurprisingly a little damp. The E-Tron GT turns like a Douglas fir and rushes furiously on the next hairpin.

The three-chamber air suspension helps in that regard, as it hits the car 22mm in Dynamic mode and stiffens the spring rate to practically eliminate rolling. With the letters GT in the name, the ride quality still counts for something, and the air suspension is even more impressive for that. Coming off a speed bump it feels like you’re walking in those maximally comfortable running shoes with 2 inches of soft foam – you feel the gentle compression without proportional bounce back. After crossing the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks and setting course on Interstate 84 towards Hood River, the E-Tron GT goes into full autobahn mode, soaking up every imperfection like a flagship luxury sedan rather than something that an R8 could keep up. on a mountain road. The high-performance tires make for quite a bit of road noise, but the aerodynamic design keeps the wind’s roar to a minimum, even when riding into the Gorge’s notoriously strong headwinds. There’s no metal box of explosions to make a fuss, of course, but because our brains still expect a punchy sound from a punchy car, Audi lets an electronic rumble into the interior. The sound seems quite authentic and doesn’t come out clearly from the car’s speakers, unlike the Mercedes-AMG EQS.

If the E-Tron GT has an advantage over the Taycan, it’s the interior. It is visually more interesting with a greater mix of materials. Storage is better too, and Audi’s familiar touchscreen is easier to use, see and reach. Thankfully, the second touchscreen in the E-Tron SUV and other Audis didn’t make it (probably because the Taycan architecture didn’t allow it), which is for the better, as clicking switches to change the climate control system is a much better experience. The weird, touch-sensitive audio system controller disk that performs the same tasks a button used to, but worse, has unfortunately come on board.

Space is plentiful, at least if you manage to fall into the deeply molded buckets. Don’t plan ornate exits. In the back it’s even worse, with its sloping roofline, but a six-foot passenger reported being impressed by the space and the firm, supportive seats there. The trunk is more like what you’d find in a coupe, and one wonders if Audi couldn’t have gone the extra mile with an A7-esque hatchback design to enhance the GT’s credentials even further.

As a car, the 2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT has a real wow factor, and there was absolutely no guarantee that electric cars would have that. The starting price of $140,945 and as tested $161,890 speaks equally to this four-door GT’s dual nature, sensational all-round driving dynamics and top quality. That’s a good thing, because it’s not exactly the best electric car. It’s not particularly efficient, for instance, with an 81 mpg-e rating being eclipsed by the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 (95 mpg-e) and Tesla Model S (120 mpg-e).

Both also go much further on a charge than the RS E-Tron GT and its 232-mile EPA rating. We saw slightly less than that due to the cold weather and had to get a splash of electrons at a Walmart in Hood River before heading back to Portland. The E-Tron GT’s 800-volt electrical architecture allows it to swallow those electrons faster than most, but that wouldn’t have been necessary in the Tesla or Mercedes. At least the E-Tron GT can outperform the Taycan — even if we’ve seen Porsche surpass its official EPA ratings.

Of course, all the above cars are still beautiful Christmas balls for extraordinary budgets. Until we get more cars like the VW ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and Tesla Model 3, plus EVs that are cheaper than those with enough range and value, cars like the E-Tron GT are just the first few leaks. the glacial dam. However, the deluge is coming.