Each company has gone resolutely its own way with development though, and Audi is keen to stress its car, even in RS specification, is more of a grand tourer. We’ve been to Rhodes to try the car in near-production prototype form.
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Engine, transmission and 0-60 time
The RS e-tron GT sits roughly on par with the non-S Taycan Turbo in terms of output. Its front-axle motor develops 175kW (235bhp) through a single-speed gearbox, and the rear 335kW (449bhp) through a two-speed unit and locking diff, for a combined 510kW (684bhp) – 10kW (13bhp) greater than the Taycan Turbo’s peak output, but still a fair chunk below the Turbo S. Audi quotes a 0-62mph time of “under 3.5 seconds”, but hasn’t released a top speed figure just yet.
Like other recent Audi Sport models, the RS e-tron GT has a suite of features to keep its mass under control, from four-wheel steering to new three-chamber adaptive air suspension, the latter dropping the car 22mm for aerodynamics at high speed, 10mm in sporty driving, or raising it 20mm at low speeds for extra clearance.
RS models get silicone carbide-coated brake discs as standard, which have a near mirror-finish and are claimed to reduce brake dust by more than 90 per cent and were first used on high performance Porsche Turbo models. Our test cars used the optional carbon-ceramics, but in addition to the friction brakes regenerative braking is also included, which is able to be varied with paddles behind the steering wheel.
What’s it like to drive?
Despite wearing the prototype tag and the most visible camouflage in history, the car’s dynamics have now been finalised, so production models should behave identically. Which is a good thing, because the RS e-tron GT drives very well indeed.
Straight-line pace? Yep, plenty of that. Our first taste of the car was a typical test of speed in an atypical setting: a quarter-mile run, held at night, on a Greek military runway, with an inky void at the end to make crossing the finish line extra terrifying. The result, with a poor reaction time and a brief flurry of wheelspin on the dusty surface, was 12.1 seconds, and felt very brisk indeed.
The next day’s driving was road-based and highlighted the GT’s other qualities, most notably as a GT. In around two hours of driving time range wasn’t an issue, so comfort, refinement and dynamics were more of a priority, and here it was very impressive. It’s quiet of course, with a touch more sound if you’re in Dynamic mode, but wind and road noise are also minimal. Coarse, UK-like surfaces do generate some tyre roar, but it’s far from excessive, while the ride even on 21-inch wheels has a pliancy that’s familiar if you’ve tried other recent Audi RS models.
It’s definitely a few notches less sharp than a Taycan, and less firmly damped. That means it doesn’t feel quite as agile, but in the realms of 2.4-ton cars it’s certainly not bad, thanks to consistent, well-weighted steering, the steered rear axle and a centre of gravity lower than an R8. Having that instant but perfectly-metered thrust available whenever you want it makes driving both quickly and smoothly a genuinely engaging experience. With regenerative braking more readily available too, it feels more natural to drive than its Porsche sibling when you’re at a more relaxed pace.
Price and rivals
Just as the Taycan is good enough (and desirable enough) to question spending similar money on a Panamera, so the RS e-tron GT all of a sudden puts the £98,590 RS7 on shaky ground. Audi is quoting a German figure of around €138,000 for the RS e-tron GT, and closer to €100,000 for the non-RS model. Without squaring them up their relative handling merits are difficult to assess, but the e-tron GT certainly gets close, and if you don’t need the ability to fill the tank in five minutes, or the V8’s sound, the GT starts to make a strong case for itself.