2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review: Who wants ICE?

Leow Ju Len
2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - front 3/4 top down shot

Some cars are game-changers, but the Audi RS e-tron GT is going to change… Audi. It might even change you.

SINGAPORE — This is the Audi RS E-Tron GT, and it is pretty much the best electric car I’ve driven. Granted, I haven’t driven them all, but Audi’s sleek, battery-powered, four-door sedan feels like a class above what’s generally out there.

READ MORE: Two kinds of Audi E-Tron GT are now on sale in Singapore. We have full details in our launch story!

That’s owing to three basic things: it is not a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) so it doesn’t totter around corners or jiggle over bumps like one, thank everything holy. Second, it was designed as an Electric Vehicle (EV) from the outset (and isn’t a combustion conversion). Third, it’s an Audi, and it plays to the brand’s basic strengths of quality and design.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - frontal low shot

The first two apply to a handful of other EVs here, namely the Tesla Model 3 and the Porsche Taycan, which is a close cousin of this car. So perhaps what lies at the heart of the E-Tron GT’s appeal is its Audi-ness? Strap yourself in to find outE

Our walkaround video shows you all you need to know about the car, besides how it drives

What’s on offer here?
In Singapore you get two versions of the Audi E-Tron GT. Both are five-seaters (although that’s being slightly generous) with the same 83.7kWh battery slung underneath the cabin and a motor at each axle, giving them four-wheel drive (or “quattro” if you speak Audi). Both versions also come with a two-speed auto gearbox for the rear motor, with a shorter ratio for violent acceleration and a taller one to improve range.

Audi e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT in Singapore

The difference between them is how fast they are. The basic E-Tron GT quattro (above, in grey) has 476 horsepower, but its motors can crank out 530hp for brief bursts and send you to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.

If that isn’t enough for you for some reason, there’s the RS E-Tron GT, the version we drove. This one has 598 horsepower, with a boost mode for 646hp in spurts. Interestingly, that makes it the most powerful roadgoing Audi, ever.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - side 3/4 shot

As you’d imagine. It’s devastatingly quick. We’re talking 100km/h in 3.3 seconds, officer. 

Woah… but it doesn’t look too “RS”.
True. There’s little of the fearsome, racy adornment that the snorting RS models get, but if you want to play spot-the-difference there’s the striking red brake calipers, the 21-inch alloys (an inch up on the E-Tron GT), and the small flashes of blue in the headlamps that tell you laser lights are in there somewhere.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - wheels and brakes

But in RS trim or not, the E-Tron GT is a striking car to look at. It’s long and wide and impossibly low (it’s just 1.4m tall), so it screams “speed” in a classically phallic way. The long teardrop silhouette means it’s slippery, too, with a drag coefficient (a measure of air resistance) of just 0.24.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - side profile

Audi already builds a car to similar form in the A7 Sportback (though you’d need the RS 7 Sportback to keep up with an E-Tron GT), but the grille-free front end and sharp, clean lines mean there’s no mistaking the E-Tron GT for anything else. But the real surprise is how different it looks from its sister car, the Porsche Taycan. Whereas Stuttgart’s effort looks more petite and svelte, the Audi looms larger in terms of its presence.

Why not buy the Taycan instead?
No reason not to, actually. The Porsche does actually feel more futuristic, what with its sliding charging port covers and its digitally-adjusted air-con vents, and it’s just as fabulous to drive.

Between the standard Taycan, the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S, plus the Cross Turismo wagon versions and two different battery sizes, there’s a lot more to choose from at Planet Porsche, too. 

You get a smidge more boot space with the Audi (which can haul 405 litres of stuff in the back), though not enough to make a huge difference, really, and like the Taycan, the E-Tron GT has a frunk. You’ll get 81 litres in there, so a weekend’s worth of baju in a duffel would be an easy fit.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear 3/4

Another win for the Audi: the rear seating is slightly less cramped, although it’s still a 2+1 setup back there. The little “foot garages” in the battery that carve out room for your feet make it over from the Taycan, which is a good thing.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - interior rear seats

But if anything tips the balance, it’ll be how familiar the cabin is, and how the E-Tron GT keeps things simple.

How is simple good?
When you drive the RS E-Tron GT, you never get a sense that it’s trying to be a spaceship on wheels. The controls could have been plucked straight from another Audi, so if you’re familiar with the brand’s cars you’ll have zero trouble finding your way around the menus and major controls.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - cockpit

There’s a single MMI (or Multi Media Interface) touchscreen for the infotainment stuff, and the virtual cockpit digital display for the driving stuff. There are even physical buttons for the climate system, the ventilated front seats and so on, bless them all.

Audi says there’s a touch of “monoposto” (or single-seater) about the cockpit, so the controls do curve toward the driver somewhat, but really, it’s business as usual.

Here’s a gripe for you, though: at this sort of money, it should be first class as usual. Though the cabin does ooze quality in typical Audi manner, with supple upholstery and soft-touch plastics, it’s not opulent by any means. Guess the big money went into the driving hardware.

Was it money well spent?

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - on the road Singapore rolling shot front

Oh boy, where to start? The E-Tron GT may be an Audi but that’s not to say it doesn’t feel different, even a bit special. For starters, when you climb aboard and buckle it up it powers up automatically. Just snick the floating gearlever into “D” (though it’s not really linked to any transmission, come to think of it) and you’re good to go. More than once, I shut down the car when I thought I was switching it on.

At covering ground along with other traffic, the Audi is supreme, rolling up to speed swiftly, seamlessly and effortlessly, and that’s even if you slip it into Efficiency mode, which deactivates the rear motor.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - on the road rear 3/4 shot

Then you find a stretch of clear road for the first time and tromp on the accelerator… and find out why you should never just tromp on this car’s accelerator. Holy hell, but this thing is fast. Like turn-the-scenery-into-a-smear-of-colours-fast. Like make-your-neck-sore-the-next-day fast. Like swept-away-by-a-tsunami-of-torque fast. 

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - cornering

Basically, it’s been a week since I returned the RS e-tron GT and I still don’t think my asshole has fully unpuckered.

More than the raw, relentless surge of speed, there’s the Audi’s bullet-like immediacy, especially if you’re in Dynamic mode. Otherwise there’s a split second’s delay (and a noticeable clunk) when the rear motor’s transmission drops a gear before the stampede begins. 3.3 seconds is just a vague figure, but translated into action, it’s terrifying, not to mention addictive.

But so far, so EV. A Taycan Turbo S gets to 100km/h a whole half a second faster, and the Tesla Model S Plaid apparently does the same sprint in two seconds flat. Electric cars can be effing fast, and the Audi isn’t even the fastest among them.

So what makes the E-Tron GT special, then?
The human cannonball stuff would be little more than a cheap, er, expensive trick if not for the fact that the Audi goes round corners beautifully. It’s not that the tyres grip tarmac like Hercules, but that the car lets you feel what’s going on the whole time.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear tyres wet

Meanwhile, the left pedal feels natural and progressive, which is quite a feat because sometimes it involves the physical brake discs, and most times it activates recuperative braking to put juice back into the battery.

But it’s the ride quality that really puts the RS e-tron GT in the top drawer. The air springs ensure that the proceedings are firm, that’s for sure, but things stay comfortable.

The Audi doesn’t rock or jiggle over the road the way electric SUVs do, and the adaptive suspension is an ace card for the car: it adds the smoothness that helps make the trudge to work pleasant, but also enables the terrific body control that gives the e-tron GT its potency around bends.

There is a caveat, however.

What’s that?
The RS E-Tron GT has adaptive air suspension as standard, so the same ride/handling balance probably doesn’t apply to the e-tron GT, which has a passive setup.

You could add the air suspension (S$7,373) and if you really want, the 21-inch wheels (S$7,127). If you fancy the perforated honeycomb pattern seats you see in our test car, that’s S$24,772, but they’re also massage chairs, so why the heck not? Even after all that, you have plenty left for fripperies. Or for another small combustion car, just because.

Sure, you lose the RS’s insane acceleration, but 4.1 seconds is still fast, and it’s not like you can use the 0.8 second difference to, I dunno, find time to finally finish composing your symphony.

Sadly, you can only have rear axle steering with the RS (for S$6,832), which is a bummer. We didn’t try it but that’s likely worth having.

2021 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review - CarBuyer Singapore - front wheel brakes fender

One thing that feels a bit grabby on Audi’s part is the carbon fibre roof, for S$18,433. You’ll want it if you don’t like a glass roof overhead, and many won’t like this one because there’s no roller shade.

Those are mighty big numbers…
Ain’t that the truth. The e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT certainly aren’t for mainstream buyers, which is why I haven’t brought up range or charging. There’s a solid chance that customers know exactly where they intend to power up these things, and won’t be relying on a public network.

For what it’s worth, figure on covering 400km on a single charge, and if you run low out in the wild, there’s the option of fast DC charging.

At one of SP Group’s 50kW juice boxes, I shoved roughly 50km of range into the RS e-tron GT in 20 minutes — charging tends to start slowly then speed up, so I reckon an extra 10 minutes would have pushed at least another 35km into the Audi’s lithium-ion cells.

You haven’t once mentioned climate change.
Frankly, there are better ways to do your bit if you’re out to save the planet, but there is a bit of freedom from guilt in the back of the mind when you drive the RS e-tron GT. A similarly powerful combustion car would put a kilogramme of carbon into the air every 3 or 4 kilometres. Think about that for a second.

Ultimately, though, the reason I’ve found myself missing the RS e-tron GT sorely is not because it’s a cleaner car than, say, an RS 7 Sportback, but because it is a better one. It’s soothing to drive one moment, and more thrilling than sitting on a box of lit firecrackers the next. It’s uncomplicated to use, but looks like it was beamed here from another world. Also, it’s not another damn SUV, so it goes around corners properly, with all the feel and feedback you could wish for.

I might have started by calling the RS e-tron GT one of the best EVs I’ve driven, but it’s one hands down one of the best vehicles of any kind.

Audi RS E-Tron GT

Electric Motors598hp (646hp with boost), 830Nm
Battery Lithium ion, 84kWh net
Charge Time / Type9 hours / Wallbox 11kW
Fast Charge Type / Time270kW DC / 23 mins
Quoted Range 433-472km (WLTP) 
0-100km/h3.6 seconds (3.3 seconds with boost)
Top Speed250km/h
Efficiency19.4 kWh/100km
VES Band A1/ -S$25,000
AgentPremium Automobiles 
PriceS$620,000 with COE and VES 
Availability Now 
Verdict Everything you want in a car, and then some. The RS e-tron GT is fast, sexy, uncomplicated to drive, refined, and fast. Very, very fast.

READ MORE: The latest on CarBuyer!


4-door 5 seat Audi electric rs e-tron gt sedan

About the Author

Leow Ju Len

CarBuyer Singapore's original originator, Ju-Len in person is exactly how he is on the written word and behind the wheel. Meaning that he darts all over the place and just when you thought he's lost the plot, you realise that it's just you not keeping up with his incredible rate of speed and thought.

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