It only feels like yesterday when my fingers were clutching the Audi e-tron GT Concept’s thick-rimmed steering wheel in the heart of Los Angeles. It was an ordinary world back then, before a time when social distancing and acne-inducing facemasks became the new normal. Still in concept form, though around 90- to 99-percent ready for production, Audi’s e-tron GT felt like the future with its stunning outline and sincere grand-touring potential.
Three years onwards, the production 2022 Audi e-tron GT is ready to face the world and take on the likes of Tesla and Porsche. It’s essentially a concept spun to life, and it brought along an RS model for good measure. The 2022 RS e-tron GT is the first all-electric model to wear the RS badge, and it has big shoes to fill, considering both the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback are nothing short of spectacular. Judging from my brief stint with the concept a few years back, though, I have no doubt Audi’s first electric RS model can easily outshine its gasoline-powered brethren.
One could argue either way that the Audi RS e-tron GT is or isn’t a Tesla killer – that judgement remains to be made, once I get the opportunity to drive it. That said, the e-tron GT feels a lot like Tony Stark: he may not the most powerful Avenger, but he has enough brilliance to overcome adversity with his charm, wit, and technology. If the ‘GT’ moniker is any indication, it’s an authentic grand tourer for spirited driving. You sit low inside the e-tron GT as you would in an Audi R8, but it has a longer wheelbase than an Audi A7 while maintaining the same overall length. The concept had enough room for taller individuals in the rear quarters, but the front seats are where the action is.
The 2022 Audi e-tron GT has a pair of permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM), one for each axle. The smaller motor in the front produces 235 horsepower while the more powerful rear motor outputs 316 horsepower, both figures rounded off to the nearest whole number. The combined output is 470 horsepower and a healthy 454.7 pound-feet of torque, with the capability to churn out 523 horsepower for 2.5-seconds in over-boost and launch control mode. In this configuration, the e-tron GT rushes to 60 mph in 3.9-seconds from a standing start, onwards to a top speed of 152 mph.
The spicier RS e-tron GT has the same front motor as the standard model. However, it has an even more powerful rear electric motor churning out 450 horsepower, raising the combined power output to 589 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. In over-boost, the powertrain summons up to 637 horses at your disposal. With a hefty lead foot, the RS e-tron GT scampers from 0-to-60 mph in 3.1-seconds with a top speed of 152 mph.
Good numbers, yes, but I’d be remised if I didn’t mention that in the wake of Porsche’s Taycan, the power output less impressive. Granted, the Taycan is essentially a four-door 911 (with more giant shoes to fill in the performance category), while the Audi is an all-electric grand tourer.
As expected with the RS-branding, the e-tron GT is treated with additional chassis treatment, steering, and suspension tuning to deliver an authentic RS driving feel. And, similar to the Taycan, the new e-tron GT also benefits from a two-speed gearbox. In normal driving modes, the Quattro drivetrain utilizes second gear to save power and improve efficiency. But in sporty driving modes, the vehicle starts in first gear and shifts to second gear at around 50 to 55 mph for snappier acceleration.
Standard in the e-tron GT is a three-chamber air suspension with a 60-percent greater capacity to offer more flexibility in finding the right balance of comfort and handling. It also means the ability to raise (up to 0.8-inches) or lower (up to 0.9-inches) the body to enhance aerodynamic performance when shuttling between driving modes. Coupled with automatic opening and closing air inlets in the radiator ducts and brake ducts, the e-tron GT achieves a 0.24 Cd drag coefficient.
The RS e-tron GT comes standard with Audi’s all-wheel steering system, similar to what you get in the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback. The rear wheels turn (up to 2.8-degrees) in the opposite direction as the front wheels, and it does so at speeds up to 30 mph to improve maneuverability.
On the other hand, the rear wheels turn in the same direction above 30 mph to enhance high-speed stability and handling. The RS e-tron GT also gets a standard rear-axle differential lock (optional in the e-tron GT) with a multi-plate clutch to make mincemeat out of slippery or demanding road surfaces.
All US-bound Audi e-tron GT models will come with a 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with an integrated cooling structure. The 800-volt electrical architecture first seen in the Taycan means less weight, less heat, repeatable high-performance runs, faster charging times, and more efficient juice dispersal, allowing a maximum DC charging rate of up to 270 kW. With a compatible charger, you’re looking at enough power to take the batteries up to 80-percent in under 23 minutes. The driving range is expected to land somewhere around 248 to 280 miles, although Audi is yet to release official EPA numbers.
You can extend the driving range by mastering the vehicle’s energy recuperation system, which you can pre-configure using the paddles behind the tiller. For drivers used to one-pedal driving, you’ll need to rethink your driving strategy: think more along the lines of coasting, rather than than allowing the e-tron GT to aggressively slow the car down.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch five-double-spoke alloy wheels (aero wheels are standard in the RS model), a leather-free interior with recycled Dinamica and Alcantara, Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, and a 10.1-inch MMI infotainment system. The driver gets a flat-bottom steering wheel, while the RS e-tron GT has a five-layer carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic roof (CFRP), the first in a production Audi.
I’m sad to see the Concept’s two-tier display not make it into the production vehicle. Indeed, the cabin as a whole is – unsurprisingly – where the 2022 e-tron GT diverges most from its concept car predecessor.
The 2022 Audi e-tron GT is arriving in the US this summer. Base prices start at $99,900 for the e-tron GT Quattro Premium Plus, while the e-tron Quattro GT Prestige and RS e-tron GT start at $107,100 and $139,900, respectively. That’s excluding destination, but Audi says it anticipates the 2022 cars qualifying for up to $7,500 in federal EV incentives.