Let’s begin by making it clear that I am a petrol head. Sound and vibrations that let me feel that I have my pedal to the floor are just as important as the shove back into my seat. So, performance electric vehicles (EVs) were something I scoffed at, but I have to say the Jaguar i-Pace and the Porsche Taycan changed my perception, as has the Audi RS e-tron GT. Some might argue that the e-tron is a rebodied Taycan, and while they may be technically correct, let me assure you it has its own identity.
At the World Car of The Year awards juror drive in Los Angeles late last year, we had a great route that involved driving through the city, out on to the freeway, along a road that snakes up a hill. I hit the start button on the RS e-tron GT. The laser headlamps light up with a dance—and then complete silence. It was completely unexpected in a performance car where you usually hear a nice growl. I whirred out of the garage, and everyone in the lobby turned to look.
It is a seductively stunning car. Low, slinky and wide with gorgeous styling and dynamic 20-inch rims, the silhouette steeply rakes down to the rear retractable spoiler in one swoop line. The arrowhead LEDs in the tail lamps linked by a light bar add to the dramatic looks.
People at signals smiled and gave me the thumbs up. As the lights turned green and the road was empty, I put pedal to metal, and the immediate rush was insane. The car was hurtling forward, and I stood on the brakes immediately to stay within the speed limit.
Audi has created a unique soundtrack experience for the GT and the RS. Toggling to dynamic mode, you get a futuristic electrical whirring amplified through the speakers, making one feel like the captain of the Starship Enterprise.
With every touch of the pedal, incredible amounts of torque propelled me forward. It was addictive, and to ensure I didn’t get a ticket before I reached the open road, I set the cruise control, kicked back to comfort mode, and wafted along the freeway. The ride was comfortable, and I didn’t feel the expansion gaps or ruts.
It was a Sunday, and other sports car owners were eyeing the e-tron. I decided to give them a show. I kicked into dynamic mode, accelerated, and with a burst of torque, I was flying up the hillside, disappearing from the view of the others. The steering is razor-sharp and the tyres stay leeched to the road.
The e-tron with its 450hp is impressive, but the RS is another level of wow with 600hp on tap. Electric motors at the front and rear draw charge from a 93kWh battery and a claimed range of 472km, but I imagine that would be about 350km in the real world. For those worried about it being able to clear the obstacles on Indian roads, it does pretty well clearing average-sized speed breakers without you having to go sideways if the air suspension is set in its highest mode. The paddles on the steering allow one to adjust the levels of regenerative braking. Unlike other cars, it will enable you to go so high that you can drive single-pedal. Here, the differences are minimal, and you barely feel the slow down when you lift off.
Despite the lack of sound and drama, the e-tron had me hooked, and as I reached the top of the hill to the turnaround point, I realised a grin has broken out on my face, my palms were sweaty, and I was feeling a different kind of thrill.
It’s a low-slung car with a wide central console dividing the passenger and driver sides. A slew of asymmetric lines and angles come together to make one sharp tooling dashboard. A 10.1-inch screen is inset, and the familiar virtual cockpit sports three themes. While other high-end Audis get another lower screen, this one gets physical buttons for the climate control, which I find much easier to use. Cabin quality is excellent, and if you are going for the green image, you can opt for upholstery made out of recycled materials. The e-tron is a four-door and the rear seats have enough space for tall people, but the windows are small, and seat contours mean this is a space for only two people. The massive panoramic sunroof extends down to the rear, expanding the feeling of space.
As standard, the Audi e-tron GT Quattro gets LED headlamps, digital dials, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, 3-zone climate control and a full-length glass roof.
Electric cars have evolved rapidly, and while it is hard to differentiate on outright acceleration or performance, there are still other things that set the vehicles apart. The e-tron’s dynamics, sophistication and gorgeous looks give it an edge. Yes, I still miss the drama of a screaming exhaust as you punch up the gears and the crackle and pop as you wind down, but there is another kind of thrill and that is the future. It is silent but adrenalin-inducing, easier on the wallet considering fuel prices, and guilt-free, most of all. The luxury EV market is picking up, and the Audi e-tron is definitely one to look at, available in India at ₹1.8 crore for the GT and the range-topping RS for ₹2.05 crore.
Renuka Kirpalani is the editor of Autocar Show