2024 Audi RS E-Tron GT review: Track test

11 minutes, 31 seconds Read

We know an electric car can be fast, but can they also be exciting and engaging? James Ward hits Phillip Island in the Audi RS E-Tron GT and comes away transformed.

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What we love
  • Effortless speed paired with effortless grip
  • Rewarding across a wide skill level
  • You’re concentrating hard so don’t even notice the lack of noise
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What we don’t
  • Better install a charger at the track
  • The price of entry to electric performance is still very high
  • Like sands through the hourglass, a heavy car will chew the brakes

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2024 Audi RS E-Tron GT

The radio crackles.

“Throttle flat through here James, really wind on the power…”

I’m coming out of turn six, ‘Siberia’, at the Phillip Island Circuit. The track here kinks to the left, then right, past the hayshed and up toward the big left-hander and crest at Lukey Heights. On the radio is one of the Audi Sport instructors setting the pace in a 441kW/800Nm twin-turbo V8-powered Audi RS Q8 SUV, a car I have just ridden around the circuit with him in. He’s skilled, experienced and working the big white SUV hard.

I, on the other hand, am a bit rusty, haven’t driven here in years, and am literally coasting at this point on Australia’s fastest motor racing circuit.

Despite his instruction to squeeze my right foot, I gently lift off the accelerator, as even at half-throttle I am gaining on the RS Q8. He’s pushing the angry V8 monster to its limit, but my fully electric Audi RS E-Tron GT sedan is as calm as a Sunday afternoon.

This is my first experience in a full-electric vehicle in a dedicated high-speed environment, and given the way the swoopy E-Tron is effortlessly keeping pace with the brutal RS Q8, I know it won’t be my last.

How much does the Audi RS E-Tron GT cost in Australia?

The Audi RS E-Tron GT is priced from $248,200 before options and on road costs. That makes it a hefty $68,000 more expensive than its ‘non-RS’ counterpart, the Audi E-Tron GT but a tidy $100 more affordable than its Zuffenhausen cousin, the Porsche Taycan GTS.

Under its aerodynamic profile (0.24 Cd), the RS E-Tron GT packs a pair of electric motors, a 93kWh battery, Quattro all-wheel-drive, rear-axle steering and an 800-volt electric infrastructure that allows up to 270kW DC rapid charging.

Output is noted at 440kW and 830Nm, but a peak of 457kW is available in the car’s temporary ‘boost’ mode. That’s more than the Taycan GTS (380kW/440kW boost/850Nm) but less than the Taycan Turbo (460kW/500kW boost/850Nm).

Buyers get a six-year Chargefox charging subscription, the convenience of a charge port on both the driver’s (DC) and passenger (AC) side, 21-inch wheels and a choice of nine colours for no additional cost.

And, for the drive home, there’s a 710-watt Bang & Olufsen 3D Surround Sound, 16-speaker sound system as standard.

Key details 2024 Audi RS E-Tron GT
Price From $248,200 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Daytona grey, pearl effect
Options available Carbon and black exterior pack – $15,000
Sensory package – $8400
RS Design package – $4550
22kW AC charger package – $6900
Optional 21-inch wheels – $1800
Carbon brakes – $12,500
Black Audi badging – $700

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How fast is the Audi RS E-Tron GT?

The Audi RS E-Tron GT claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.3 seconds and is electronically limited to a 250km/h top speed.

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2024 Audi RS E-Tron GT
Seats Five
Boot volume 350L
Length 4989mm
Width 1964mm
Height 1414mm
Wheelbase 2900mm

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What’s the Audi RS E-Tron GT like to drive?

I set out on this drive in the Audi RS E-Tron GT with the goal of understanding if an electric vehicle can still stimulate the senses as a performance car, or if the carnival-ride thrills of that initial acceleration blast would diminish as soon as you popped some corners into the mix.

Here, now, and almost wishing the RS Q8 wasn’t in my way, I’ve moved past the initial question and am now asking “what else can this thing do?”

Forget Scalextric, slot car racing is now a 1:1 scale hobby, albeit an expensive one.

The RS E-Tron GT is, as the name suggests, the sporty ‘Rennsport’ implementation of the Audi E-Tron GT four-door saloon.

It offers dual motors with up to 475kW power output (in boost mode) and 830Nm torque through a two-speed transmission to all four wheels. Even its regular output of 440kW is a 90kW lift on the ‘regular’ E-Tron GT (350kW / 390kW in boost), and places the RS E-Tron GT in the upper echelons of not only electric car but supercar power numbers.

But we knew that going in.

Tesla has created a platform that shouts to the world that an electric car can be blisteringly quick off the line, so much so that straight-line performance has been thoroughly democratised.

When I was young, I had a set of ‘Top Trumps’ cards where a 1984 Ford RS200 rally car was the vehicle to play when flexing acceleration figures. The Group B monster posited a sub-4-second 0-100km/h time, a figure often thought to be so amazing it had to be false.

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A circuit like Phillip Island asks much more of a car than just straight-line performance from a standing start, and it’s in this fast and technical environment where the E-Tron shows it is much more than a one-trick, big-number pony.

Pushing through turn one at a significant pace can often feel challenging as the car moves around, naturally floating toward the circuit’s infield on corner exit. Not so the electro-Audi.

For a start, the car is wide. Really wide.

The 1964mm width is a whole 112mm, past that of a 992 Porsche 911 (1852mm). The wheels are pushed right out, with a 1687mm front and 1667mm rear track on massive 9.5-inch front and 11.5-inch wide rear tyres. Combined with the all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering capability, the Audi feels firmly glued to the surface. A proper slot car indeed.

The thing is, as we push again through the double-apex Southern Loop and onto the tight hairpin at Honda/Miller corner, I know that I’m not being set up to really explore the limits of what the E-Tron’s grip levels are.

Again Jeff crackles through the radio and says to “push flat out through turn three”, but again I know I’ll end up in the back of the RS Q8 if I do. Once again I lift off well before braking for the hairpin (and geese) behind him.

There’s no need here to throw out the anchors hard and test the capability of the car’s 409mm front and 366mm rear rotors either. With a firm but not overly forceful squeeze on the brakes, I’m washing off speed behind the dipping and squirming SUV and can easily manage a turn into the tight right-hander.

Key details 2024 Audi RS E-Tron GT
Engine Dual electric motors
Power 440kW / 475kW boost mode
Torque 830Nm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission 2-speed automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 187.6kW/t
Weight (kerb) 2345kg
Turning circle 11.0m

Under power, you can hear the whine of the motors spooling up, and where there is an exhilarating amount of wind and tyre noise, with a helmet on I’m almost struck by how much I don’t notice or even care about the lack of engine noise.

Much of this is due to the PlayStation-eque ‘gearless’ driving style where your role is there to manage fast, slow, left, right, kick, punch, jump.

You aren’t concentrating on the timbre and vibration of the engine to understand where you are in the process of gear selection. You don’t need to consider gearing down too early under brakes or worry about missing the change and hitting a limiter under power.

You just drive.

Concentration is still required, mind you. Just in a different way.

It’s much more than simply knowing there is a 2535kg V8 SUV right in front of you that you don’t want to get too close to… even though you can, easily, it’s about considering the variables of your environment in a way that respects the speed that things are now happening, or could happen.

Winding on the power confidently and smoothly so as not to upset what has become a rather rhythmical approach to performance driving is now paramount. The amount of speed you can stack on in such a short amount of time and distance means you now need to constantly realign your corner planning.

Saw at the wheel or stab the throttle and you can throw the whole rolling equation out of balance and into trouble. You’re moving fast very easily in this car, so small inputs and a smooth mindset are key.

The way the car can reduce speed quickly too, means there is an opportunity to go into the dozen corners of Phillip Island faster, and later, then push out more swiftly in preparation for the next.

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We push on for a final lap, and wind up the speed on the Island’s spectacular front straight. Here the speedo passes 200km/h very rapidly, and it feels like there’s so much more in it. Part of me wants the RS Q8 to step aside so I can see just how much more the GT has to give.

Even without a lawless blast, the E-Tron has demonstrated that an electric platform has a lot to offer a performance driver, and in this guise, can work for drivers with a wide band of capabilities behind the wheel.

First-timers will feel supported by the car’s stability and perhaps startled by just how fast it can be, whereas more experienced drivers will feel confident in stretching their limits as they goad the car towards its own.

Plenty of fun. Plenty of upside. So what’s the catch?

At $248,200 before options and on-road costs, the Audi RS E-Tron GT isn’t quite at the track-day special price point for most buyers. It’s not just a price thing though, the E-Tron has a physical issue… with physics.

After a few laps, you’ll probably wonder how things are ticking along under the skin, and it’s here where the RS E-Tron GT isn’t quite ready for mass-adoption club motorsport.

On our three-lap run, we averaged energy use of 86kWh per 100km. That’s the outcome of enthusiastic power use and limited regeneration opportunities, meaning the car was using its actual brakes more than the motors were recovering energy.

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With a 93kWh battery pack, that gives us about a 100km range, or in Phillip Island currency, about 18 laps of the 5.3-kilometre circuit, assuming, of course, you started with a full ‘tank’.

What it means is that without at least a 50kW charger on site, enjoying the RS E-Tron GT at nearly every motorsport venue in Australia will be a time and lap-limited activity. Heaven forbid there are two or more EVs enjoying some track time and keen to share the charging bay come the day’s end.

It’s not just battery use that you’ll be worried about either. It’s brakes.

Remember that at 2345kg, the Audi is almost around 840kg heavier than a Porsche 911 Carrera (1505kg), which will mean those brake pads and rotors will have their work cut out for them.

Luckily the RS Q8 is here, as you’ll need something that is capable of towing the E-Tron home should your day of lifesize slot-car racing run out of ways to go or stop!

I don’t want to end on a downer though, as the RS E-Tron GT is a genuinely amazing machine in this environment, so we can look to it as an early iteration of capable, performance-based electric cars.

Fast forward a few years when the technology is smaller, lighter and cheaper, and I’m sure we’ll see any number of electric machines changing the way we approach club-based and education-based motorsport activities.

In the same way, the small capacity turbocharged cars opened a world of accessibility for young enthusiasts to get their respective backsides trackside, so too will the next generation of electrics open the door to even more performance and potential.

In the meantime, I hear there’s a 250kW charging station at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia. Who’s keen for a high-performance EV club day?

Ratings Breakdown

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT Coupe

8.0/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

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James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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