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2022 Audi RS e-tron GT Review: The Sound Barrier

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS | Photo: D.Rufiange
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Daniel Rufiange
The e-tron GT RS may deliver the performance you want, but it does so without an element that's often critical to a performance car's success - the sound
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, profile
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, profile | Photo: D.Rufiange

Auto123 reviews the 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT.

At the time of writing, there are some 275 vehicle models on the market. Each year, some depart, and some debut. Over the next few years, with the emergence of new electric models from both legacy automakers and start-up companies, that number will surely grow and undoubtedly pass the 300 mark.

That makes for a crowded marketplace.

So how does one stand out? The ingredients may change, but the recipe is the same. Eye-catching design, performance, price and reliability are what consumers are looking for. Above all, people's reactions to the machine remain human.

For our part, the work doesn't change, either. We still try to test as many models as possible. It’s just that certain basic elements are changing right under our hands and feet.

Ten years ago, testing an Audi performance model would have meant driving an S8 or the R8. Today, we also have the RS version of the e-tron GT, a premium sedan that has the distinction of never having met a combustion engine.

And what does that change, exactly? Nothing, and everything at the same time. These days, if you’re into performance cars, you have to throw out some parameters and establish new ones. And also accept and embrace a completely different reality.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, front
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, front | Photo: D.Rufiange

A designer’s confession
It’s funny, the designers who produce the most breathtaking models are often the humblest. That said, they usually have the refreshing honesty to acknowledge their masterpieces as such. The man behind the e-tron RS GT, Marc Lichte, didn't hesitate to say that it was the most beautiful car he had ever created.

A look at its lines makes it hard to argue; you turn your head at the sight of this car. I saw it firsthand during my week of testing; the model commands respect. Many people twisted their necks to take a second look, then a third.

The coming years are going to see their share of head-turning designs, of course, because conceiving an electric model offers stylists more leeway, more possibilities. This is good news. Besides, the Audi signature remains very recognizable with the e-tron RS GT.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, steering wheel, dashboard
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, steering wheel, dashboard | Photo: D.Rufiange

On board
Inside, Audi continues to excel. And it does things differently than its direct rivals. At BMW, tradition and austerity dominate; Mercedes-Benz is more flamboyant, with interesting but mixed results. Audi plays between the two. The design of its interiors evolves, always with style and class, without ever falling into excess.

In my view, the cocoon of this e-tron is just right. You're not overwhelmed when you see the dashboard, but you recognize the quality of the work done. And the seductive elements are numerous. I’m thinking of the materials used, the contrast they offer, the uncluttered centre console with an electronic shifter (of course), the screens that keep you informed of the model's every heartbeat, whether it's at a standstill or in full acceleration.

Of course, the comfort of the seats is beyond reproach, so comfortable they make you want to stretch out every drive. Which you can do officially to up to 373 km before recharging. The regular version of the model offers an additional 10 km of range, by the way.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, front end
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, front end | Photo: D.Rufiange

Cousin to the Taycan
It's no secret, the e-tron GT is the cousin of the Porsche Taycan. The bases of its electric powertrain are borrowed from it, in fact. It’s a configuration that includes two synchronous AC motors, as well as this particular approach with a two-speed transmission for the rear motor, but only one for the front motor. The battery capacity is 93.4 kWh. Thanks to an 800V architecture, and the possibility of 270kW of power for recharging, the charge level races from 5 to 80 percent in just 23 minutes – at the right charging station.

Of course, a planner integrated into the car's system allows you to locate those charging stations.

The output of this RS variant is simply mind-boggling at 637 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. It'll do 0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds, but I swear that from the inside, it feels much faster. What makes the acceleration blistering is that two-speed transmission in the back; one for hot starts, the other for high-speed energy efficiency at high speeds.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, three-quarters rear
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, three-quarters rear | Photo: D.Rufiange

On the road
When you're behind the wheel, thrills are in the air. Acceleration, for one, is not only smile-inducing it almost unnerving. In fact, a vehicle that blasts off like that is beyond comprehension, even logic. And let’s be honest, it serves no other purpose than to blow socks off and impress others. Whatever, it ain’t dull, and it may actually get you – quickly – out of a tricky situation on the road.

Otherwise, the e-tron RS GT is disarmingly smooth. Its adaptive suspension perfectly filters out road imperfections, and the optional 21-inch wheels only add to its incisive handling. The steering is precise, but it is lighter than that of Porsche's Taycan.

Comparisons between the two models are inevitable, and since the goal here is not cannibalization, each vehicle has its different strengths and weaknesses. The Porsche leans towards sportiness, while comfort is th dominant theme in the Audi, not to mention that the interior of the e-tron is more interesting than the Taycan's. On the other hand, the prestige is higher with Porsche... but don't go telling that to an Audi representative, who will bring you strong arguments for the contrary.

The Audi is not as efficient as the Tesla S, especially in the top-of-the-line variant. It also offers less range, which is worth noting. On the other hand, Audi’s well-established dealer network will appeal to skittish buyers.

As you can see, comparisons are easy and we could go on and on. In the end, anyone shopping in this category has a good idea of what they want. Audi's offering is transparent, with its strengths and weaknesses.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, rear
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, rear | Photo: D.Rufiange

The bill
Of course, with a vehicle like this, there's the question of price. Not that that’s going to be much of an issue for most folks seriously shopping in this segment.

With a beast offered at $179,900 in base configuration and $194,890 in this case with the options selected, it's not even a question; you pay cash or you take on the monthly payments of $3392.42, with a 0 cash offer and a 4.98-percent rate.

The options that our model carried include a metallic effect paint ($890), fine Nappa leather package ($4,150), performance package ($4,950), black emblems ($350), red carbide brakes ($500) and 21-inch wheels with summer tires ($1,500).

Like we said, if you’re able to seriously shop in this segment, none of this is all that consequential to you.

Still, because we don't know exactly what the industry will look like in four or five years, leasing is the best option. It's hard to know what the true value of this model will be in the market in a few years.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, wheel, headlight
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, wheel, headlight | Photo: D.Rufiange

The Audi e-tron GT RS is an exceptional car that is not for everyone, even among its target audience. It does serve as an extraordinary showcase for the company's technology, though.

One of its most striking features, however, is something it lacks: the traditional sound of a performance car. Yes, there’s an electronically generated sound to accompany you when you accelerate, but for anyone who thrills to the sound of traditional mechanics, the thrill here is gone, as BB King would say. That's why I call it the sound barrier; you can drive through it, but the absence of the symphony usually offered by this kind of car might actually be a barrier for some buyers.

Porsche's success with the Taycan seems to put the kibosh to that argument. What if the need for engine roars is one of those bits of accepted wisdom that turns out to be urban myth?

We don't have the answer to that ... yet. We’ll know more in a few years.

2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, badging, rear light
2022 Audi e-tron GT RS, badging, rear light | Photo: D.Rufiange

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Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists