On Test – Audi RS e-tron

The £112,000 new Audi RS e-tron GT is among the fastest EVs on the planet, boasts four doors and has style that’ll put supercars in the shade. Adam Hay-Nicholls puts it to the test.

The world’s car manufacturers are going woke right now, as they grapple with the seismic policy changes and shifting consumer habits that require them to move from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV). That meant for my test drive of Audi’s new flagship, the RS e-tron GT, the company booked me into a vegan hotel. Fortunately, the motor proved satisfyingly meaty.

‘I experienced the all-electric Audi on the smooth and wide A9 trunk road, through the tight twists of the Cairngorns, and across cattle grids off the beaten track’

Also, said hotel – Saorsa 1875, in Pitlochry – is surrounded by some of Scotland’s most wondrous landscape and rewarding ribbons of tarmac. I experienced the all-electric Audi on the smooth and wide A9 trunk road, through the tight twists of the Cairngorns, and across cattle grids off the beaten track

The e-tron GT has a brother – the Porsche Taycan. Same technical ingredients, slightly different recipe. Which is better looking is down to personal taste, but I reckon the Audi edges it. Four-door electric cars were rather dour, uninspiring things before these two came along. I’m talking about the Tesla Model S, a car that’s about six years overdue facelift.

The e-Tron GT shares its underpinnings with the Porsche Taycan

Audi’s own ICE super saloons of recent years have dated quickly, too, or been forgettable. Think of the A7. But the e-tron GT has scaled several rungs of the evolutionary ladder in one battery-powered stride. You’d swear it was a coupé if you couldn’t see the door lines, which are well disguised. The whole thing is a concept come to life. If this is what the future looks like, I’m in. But does have the underpinnings to justify the barnstorming style?
‘But does it have the underpinnings to justify the barnstorming style?’

As you’d expect from an Audi, the ergonomics are faultless

Being the RS-version, the car I’m driving has had a steroidal injection over the standard GT. That means 590bhp, 830Nm of torque and 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds. Supercar stuff. The downside is that it weighs 2,347kg, which is more akin to a lorry. It punches a mighty hole in the air, but once you get to elbows-out turns you really need to be careful about your entry speeds, especially as there aren’t any roaring revs to help remind you you’re doing 155mph.

‘Where the RS really excels is on A roads. It’s velvety, supple, sophisticated and obviously silent’

One needs to recalibrate one’s brain too quick EVs. Where it really excels is on A-roads and motorways. It’s velvety, supple, sophisticated and obviously silent. Although it’s heavy, the battery cells are so low to the ground that it steers like it’s on rails around all but the most acute angles.

The car’s width and weight make it a little unwieldy on tight and twisty lanes

It’s fascinating because the Porsche Taycan – which has the same J1 platform – has the opposite character. The Taycan is a sports car that wants to be ragged. Porsches feel connected at the wheel, while Audis always feel rather remote. The e-tron lives up to its GT name. It’s a continental cruise missile.

Speaking of crossing continents, the downside to all EVs – and Audi EVs in particular – is range, but the RS is actually not bad. The manufacturer quotes 283 miles. Boot it out of a few roundabouts and I reckon you’re staring at a real-world range of 220 miles before it’s squeaky bum time. It takes just 23 minutes to rapid charge it, or a less rapid 14 hours if you do it with a 7kW home wall box.

Priced at £111,900, it’s expensive even by EV standards. It’s five grand shy of the more powerful Taycan Turbo (670bhp). But this feels less like a Porsche, more like a stealth Rolls-Royce. Plus, I have it on good authority that Prince William has just ordered one.

Adam Hay-Nicholls is a writer and media consultant specialising in motoring and Formula One racing.