Driving economically is very topical right now. Everyone is talking about electric vehicles and how they will change the world. If you have any sort of social media account, you’re never more than one finger swipe away from an electric car drag race or showdown to show you how fast some of these vehicles really are. But here lies the problem, super-fast speed is not usable in everyday life, so if you take that out, can these top tier super electric cars replace our Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles for everyday living? 

After going to the launch of the Audi E-Tron back in July – Audi E-Tron Launch, DriveLife got a week behind the wheel of the all-new 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT to find out what everyday life is like with a $273,500 electric vehicle. 

What We Like and Dislike About The 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT

What we like

  • Stunning head-turning design
  • Luxury build quality
  • Supercar acceleration
  • Impressive ride quality
  • Leading-edge technology
  • Comfortable interior
  • So quiet
  • The glass roof is very cool

What we don’t like

  • Price tag
  • Not very practical for most people
  • Interior style vs price
  • Not engaging to drive
  • No RS button
  • The glass roof has no sunblind
  • Range drop with performance driving
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Not a lot of storage space
  • Car locked with keys inside (error?)

What’s In The 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Range?

The E-Tron range consists of two-vehicle options; the E-Tron GT Quattro and the RS E-Tron GT. This is somewhat like Audi’s S and RS range of ICE vehicles. The E-Tron GT Quattro starts at $194,500, while the RS E-Tron GT starts at $273,500. Both vehicles are slightly outside (by at least $120k) of the government’s electric vehicle subsidy package.

With other Audi models, the difference between the S and RS is very visible. However with the E-Tron GT Quattro and the RS E-Tron GT, the difference is not so obvious, the vast majority of differences are unseen under all the bodywork. Both vehicles have the same 93kWh lithium-ion battery, and both run the same 2-speed automatic transmission. The E-Tron Quattro has an open rear differential. It also has a peak kW of 350 and an electrical torque of 630Nm. The RS E-Tron GT has a Quattro with a controlled rear differential lock. It has a peak kW of 440 and an electrical torque of 830Nm.

The result of this and software settings means the two vehicles perform very differently. The E-Tron GT Quattro can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, 4.1 in boost mode and the RS E-Tron GT can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, 3.3 in boost mode. Both vehicles are still very fast cars even when compared to the normal Audi RS lineup. 

The range is also different between the two-vehicle, the E-Tron GT Quattro offers up to 487kms and the RS E-Tron GT offers up to 472kms.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Standard Equipment Highlights

The RS E-Tron GT comes with a decent list of standard equipment, but it also comes with a long list of things you can option as well. 

  • Charging system Connect – 22kW home charger
  • Anti-theft alarm with interior surveillance and vehicle immobiliser
  • Adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, efficiency assist, swerve assist and turn assist
  • Adaptive cruise assist with emergency assist
  • Audi Pre Sense Front
  • Lane change assist incl. exit warning system and rear traffic alert
  • Parking aid plus with 360 display
  • 360 cameras
  • Front cross-traffic assist
  • Tyre mobility system 
  • Matrix LED headlights
  • Privacy glass
  • Panoramic glass sunroof, fixed
  • Exterior decorative trims in black
  • Single frame grille in Hekla Grey
  • Ambient Lighting Package Plus
  • e-tron sports sound – exterior front and rear speakers, interior speakers
  • Air Conditioning – 3 zone 
  • Comfort stationary air conditioning
  • Audi Smartphone Interface
  • Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus
  • Head-up display
  • Comfort key with sensor-controlled release of the luggage compartment lid
  • Sports seats Pro, front seats,18-way electric adjustable
  • MMI Navigation Plus with 10.1 touch display
  • Audi Connect
  • Bang & Olufsen Premium sound system – 710W, 16 speaker
  • Sports contour multifunction steering wheel
  • Headliner in Black fabric
  • Upper and lower interior elements in leatherette

Our Review 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Optional Equipment

  • Black Optics styling package Plus – $3,500
  • Carbon Twill Inlays – $2,500
  • Exterior mirrors in black – $300
  • Body colour single frame grille – 6H1 – $1,000
  • RS design package red – $5,500

Including the optional equipment in our review car, the retail price was $286,300.

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT jump on over to the Audi New Zealand website.

How Does The 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Compare To Its Competition?

This section of the market is not for the faint-hearted, as the prices start at just under $200,000. But if you require an electric vehicle from industry leaders spearheading development, refined luxury and head-turning styling that is the price range you need to be considering.

Currently, the only models available are the Porsche Taycan, Audi E-Tron GT and the Model S Plaid from Tesla towards the end of 2022.

EV Comparison Chart

Make/ ModelBattery kW/hPower kW/Nm0-100km/hRange
(
WLTP)
Boot SpacePrice
Porsche Taycan Turbo S93.4460/10502.8405 km366 Litres$373,400
Porsche Taycan Turbo93.4460/8503.2420 km366 Litres$297,300
Audi RS E-Tron GT93440/8303.3472 km350 Litres$273,500
Tesla Model S Plaid100615/14202.1637 km793$226,822
Porsche Taycan 4S93.4320/6404.0365 km366 Litres$208,900
Audi E-Tron GT Quattro93350/6304.5487 km350 Litres$194,500

First Impressions Of The 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT

It’s a head-turner that’s for sure, the new Audi RS E-Tron GT is anything but dull to look at. The massive 21” wheels and the low body stance convey that this car is not something to second guess. Its style is sharp, aggressive with a sculpted bodyline that makes it look fast while standing still.

I was a bit taken aback by the red colour, even though Audi calls it Tango Red Metallic, it looked more like a flat red to me. It was a striking colour for sure, which really made the car stand out from the crowd. 

The general consensus is that EV or Eco cars are dull and boring. If that’s the case the new Audi RS E-Tron GT just turned that theory on its head and smashed it. I just hoped it was as exciting to drive as it visually looked.

What’s The Interior Like In The  2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT?

A lot of people ask me why I don’t research more about the cars that I review before I get to drive them. It may not be everyone’s approach, but I like to know as little about the cars when I drive them, as any information known beforehand can taint your perception of that vehicle. Some cars turn out to be really cheap, which can then mean they are great value for money, others have different powertrains or engine sizes which can also change opinions before the vehicle is driven. The goal is to have an unbiased view of the vehicle before knowing all the facts.

I did the same for the 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT and a few days after driving it, I looked up its price tag, which left me with some reservations about the interior of this Audi, which we will come back to later.

For such a big car, I did expect the cabin to feel a bit more spacious, this has been sacrificed for the sports looks and aerodynamics. The rake angle of the front and rear screen are much tighter than a normal car, making the roof a bit lower too. For taller people, this is awkward, as it’s more like getting into a coupe than a sedan, as you have to go in bum first and tilt and twist your body to get into the car without hitting your head. No-fault of the car’s design, just my freakishly tall stature, but must be considered if you’re tall, as I banged my head on the top of the door several times.

Inside the E-Tron, it’s very clearly an Audi. Styling cues coming from the rest of the range. Nice materials all around the cabin, soft-touch matte carbon fibre, leather and aluminium trim. The only material I did not like was the black shiny plastic, which covered the entire centre console and a lot of the dash. I thought it was a cheap-looking material, shiny plastic is a bit old now and it’s so hard to keep clean of dust and fingerprints. Storage was minimal in the cabin, with a small pocket in the centre console, a cubby under the centre armrest and two small areas in the doors. My wife was rather surprised at how little storage space there was. There was no wireless charging pad for your phone either, which I thought odd for an electric vehicle.

The driver and passenger seats were typical Audi performance seats; sculpted luxury leather seats with strong bolster and shoulder support. There was a nice RS badge embroidered into them just under the headrest, which makes them just that more special. The driver seat was very comfy, I didn’t find it hard to find the correct driving position and never once felt uncomfortable in them. The rear seats had a similar design but were less sculpted, just as comfy and covered in that fine Nappa leather. The back is a bit cramped, even my daughter in her car seat found it tight. Additionally, the middle seat didn’t look that comfy due to the design of the two main seats. I was not able to get in the back unless I moved the driver’s seat right up. I think anyone over 180cm would struggle to get comfy in the rear.

One of the main features of the interior is the glass roof. You don’t notice it at first as the driver, but once you look around, it’s like the roof is not there. It’s a wow feature, such a large piece of glass, which really opens up the space within the cabin. The only downside is that it’s only tinted and does not have any additional sunshade cover, the cabin really heats up in the sun when parked up.

The driver’s display and infotainment were great. Let’s start with the driver’s display, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. It’s very customisable, allowing you to choose a wide variety of information to be displayed, from something minimal and clean to busy and informative. In the centre of the display, you have the E-Tron speedo, which displays the speed in the middle. On the outer edges, you have your battery charge on the right and the power consumption/brake regen on the left. 

The central infotainment is the same system as the rest of the Audi range. From here you can access the radio, media, telephone, navigation, phone apps, car systems, setting and drive profiles. Super easy to use, very intuitive, with an additional range monitor menu for E-Trons. This highlighted what was using up power like air conditioning and what the estimated range is based on current use.

In fact, during the review, right in the middle of my photoshoot, a very unexpected thing happened. I got out of the car like I do after it’s positioned for the next photo, and closed the door. And as I did I heard all the door locks lock. What made matters worse is that the key was in the centre console, right where I always leave it during photos.

I was surprised by this as the car was powered on, and the keys were now locked inside. 99% of cars these days do not allow you to do that, and why would it have locked them without the car moving away from a standstill. All of these points were good ones, but none of which would solve the problem. Fast forward 45 minutes and I was back in the car, thanks to the Audi Roadside Assistance service, the Audi NZ team and the local Wellington Audi dealer. The dealer had the vehicle linked to his Audi Connect account, which allowed him to unlock the car remotely after it had been idle for 30 minutes and powered down. Panic stations over, but my wife was right, thank God I didn’t leave my phone inside the car as well. Audi has said that this should not happen and will test the car once it’s back at the dealership. This alone is a shining example of why a product like Audi Connect is a lifesaver and not to be overlooked.

The boot is a good space, very deep, not as wide as I would expect compared to the car, but a good large sedan sized compartment of 350 litres. The frunk, front trunk or froot, front boot looked to be straight from the Taycan. Not a huge space, but enough to hold the portable charging systems and a bit of luggage.

Coming back to my comment about the price and the interior. Is the Audi RS E-Tron GT interior nice? Yes. Is the interior well built? Yes. Is it lined with luxury materials? Yes. Is it what you would expect of a car with a price tag of $273,500? No. This is why I don’t like to know too much before I drive them, as the price can taint your view. As I said the interior is very nice, but a very good friend of mine just got a 2021 Audi S3, and the interior is not much different. His S3 doesn’t have the matte carbon fibre, but the S3 is also $184,000 cheaper than the Audi RS E-Tron GT. It’s also more everyday practical and spacious when compared to the E-Tron too.

In my opinion, I feel the interior of the E-Tron should reflect not only its price tag but how special it is too.

What’s The 2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Like To Drive?

When you sit in the Audi RS E-Tron GT a strange thing happens, as soon as you press the brake. The car goes into ready mode without even pressing the start button. This frustrated me for some time, as I would jump in, press on the pedal, reach for the start button, the car had already turned on, and press the button to turn off the car. So I would have to then press it again to start the car. I am sure after some time you would get used to this, but it was a bit odd. 

So now we get into what it’s like to drive. For everyday driving, it’s really nice, effortless, just like any other Audi but quieter. For the around-town use, it’s super easy to use with decent visibility at the front, not so great at the back. It’s a good car to drive, so well built, the steering is fluid, the systems are so smooth and the ride is very comfy. So as an everyday driver it ticks all the boxes well. 

As an RS performance car, does it tick all the right boxes too? Maybe I needed more time behind the wheel, but I did not feel there was a great connection between the car and the driver. As I mentioned this is a good car to drive, due to all of its systems. But that seems to have made it feel a bit sterile for a driver looking for a connection to the road. I found it hard to get any feedback through the steering wheel, which was unsettled under heavy throttle. The thing is that this is an EV, with mainly electrical systems, so it won’t feel or act like an ICE vehicle. Is it a good car to drive? Yeah sure, for every day, but is it a driver’s performance car? I didn’t think so.

Braking systems were also very good, considering they were normal vented discs for such a powerful car, they performed very well. I know there is a ceramic package, not sure that would be needed, but it would look cool.

Being a big fan of the RS models available from Audi, I did find it surprising that there was no RS button on the steering wheel. Where this would normally be was the heated steering wheel button. What this meant is that if you wanted to change to the performance driving mode, you had to change it via the infotainment screen or the button on the centre console. Unlike every other Audi RS model. Small things like this make me think the E-Tron RS is more like trim level than a spec level.

Driving the Audi RS E-Tron GT with some enthusiasm is a very different experience from any other Audi’s I have driven before. This car is fast, so very very fast. When I tested it and put my foot to the floor, it’s like some movie effects kick in and just slingshot you into the distance. 0-100km/h is in 3.3 seconds, which is faster than any car I have owned, and I have owned some fast cars. The odd thing is the lack of sound, but this is mixed by the lack of feel for the driver too. The car is almost too perfect at doing what it’s trying to do, I felt like I was just along for the ride. I also felt a bit motion sick after doing it, which is weird too. But I think this was due to how the car tackles everything else. It is smooth, it’s quiet, super fast but lacks any connective feel for the driver, which is disorientating at high speeds. Our brains are used to other sounds and feelings, which the E-Tron couldn’t supply. 

The E-Tron has paddles on the steering wheel, which has become in most EVs how you control the level of brake regeneration. It has two up and two down levels. The up levels allow the car to coast/freewheel to be more efficient. When you go down one of two levels the brake regen kicks in. This is where the rotational force of the wheels creates power within the motor’s magnets, which can be stored back into the battery. Every EV has different levels of regen force, this Audi E-Tron seemed to have a very light level, even on level 2. This meant that it was hard to drive with just one foot like other EVs. Where the brake regen would come in when you lift off the throttle and slow the vehicle significantly and then to a stop. The E-Tron braking was very light, and it would have been nice to see a harder level set like the Mercedes-Benz EQ models.

Energy consumption on the Audi RS E-Tron GT was surprising, we pretty much hit the nail on the head when it came to the manufacturer’s specifications. This is very uncommon as they are normally tested in perfect conditions. Audi stated that the combined kWh/100 km is 22.5 and over the course of our road test we achieved 22.6. This is pretty damn impressive to see that real-world lines up the advertised specs. Just in case you are wondering, that’s around $6.80 per 100km.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Specifications

Vehicle TypeElectric Four-Door Sedan
Starting Price$273,500
Price as Tested$286,300
EngineBattery Electric Motor
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
440 / 830
Transmission2-speed automatic
Spare WheelGel pack
Kerb Weight, Kg2,860
Length x Width x Height, mm4990 x 1960 x 1410
Cargo Capacity, litres350
RangeUp to 472km
Electric Economy,
kWh/100 km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 22.5
Real-World Test – Combined – 22.6
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
N/A
Turning circle, metresN/A
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty5 year or 150,000km new vehicle warranty
8 years or 160,000 km high-voltage battery warranty
Safety informationAncap Rating – N/A –
LinkRightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NPK600 (site information suspected to be incorrect, as it’s copied from the Audi E-Tron SUV)
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
10
Handling
6
Infotainment
8
Interior
7
Performance
8
Ride
8
Safety
8
Styling
8
Value
5
Vehicle Technology
9
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It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.

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