Expert Reviews

2023 Audi RS E-Tron GT Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

Drivers seeking attention from fellow motorists, pedestrians, and darn-near anyone else might want to consider the 2023 Audi RS e-tron GT.

It’s been a long time since a car made me feel like as much of a rock star as Audi’s sleek electric vehicle (EV) did, with heads snapping around and necks craning to get a better look. More than a few folks whipped out their phones to snap photos, too. This car makes you feel like a million bucks – and all for less than a quarter of that. Better still, the RS E-Tron GT isn’t just about its looks; it’s got the performance chops to back it up.

Styling: 9/10

Audi has long been appreciated for its clean, sophisticated design language that tends to age remarkably well, and this all-electric sedan is likely to be as stunning in 10 years as it is today. Long, low, wide and sleek, this is a premium performance sedan and it shouts it from every angle. The Tango Red paint helps snag eyeballs, too, while the blacked-out badging and trim offer some complementary contrast, and the fenders flare out around optional 21-inch wheels on this tester, making it look like a predator poised to strike.

If this car looks somewhat familiar, then you’ve likely spotted this Audi’s corporate cousin roaming the streets. It’s true that the E-Tron GT shares a great deal, both aesthetically and functionally, with the Porsche Taycan. Even so, there’s a lot of Audi DNA visible here, and the RS E-Tron GT could easily be the handsome offspring of an RS 7 and R8.

Its interior is equally stylish, with aggressively bolstered seats finished in buttery leather that’s tastefully accented with red stitching. The dashboard wears a vast swath of matte-finish carbon fibre and integrates its various screens and controls into a serious cockpit for the driver. There’s no room for pointless frivolity here; this is a place of driving business, but it’s all fancifully executed.

Power: 9.5/10

Audi claims a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 3.3 seconds, but published reports of sub-three-second runs to 60 mph and the quarter-mile in 11 seconds flat confirm that this thing is a scorcher. That’s quick enough to take your passengers’ breath away and have them either giggling with delight – or screaming for mommy, depending on how much they enjoy having their innards rearranged by sudden, extreme g-forces. It’s incredibly addictive, and I revelled in repeatedly amusing myself with stabs of the throttle whenever space on the road allowed.

To catapult 2,325 kg (5,126 lb) of Audi at the horizon requires a serious wallop of thrust, and with launch control in effect the RS E-Tron GT dispenses 637 hp – however, that’s for just 2.5 seconds. The rest of the time it makes due with only 590 hp, which is still ample to feed any speed freak’s addiction, especially with 612 lb-ft of instantaneous torque on hand. As dramatic as those numbers are, they’re still short of the wildest EVs out there including Porsche’s Turbo variants of the Taycan, the Lucid Air, and Tesla’s Model S Plaid, which speaks to the absurdity of the horsepower wars going on in this segment.

Driving Feel: 9/10

Complaints have been levelled against Tesla for increasing its power without increasing braking capability, but this Audi is a well-rounded performance car. Anyone can go fast in a straight line, but to reel in that speed with strong brakes featuring solid, linear, and durable stopping power indicates a true performance car, and the RS E-Tron GT does just that. And if even more fade-free braking strength is desired, Audi offers carbon-ceramics for an extra $11,300.

The RS E-Tron GT’s handling is equally impressive, staying flat, planted, and incredibly capable of keeping the car on track even when driven wildly. This Audi doesn’t have the nimbleness of, say, an RS 3, but its composure is unflappable, and its steering offers more feel than the typically anodyne setups found in most EVs.

Fuel Economy: 8.5/10

For a wildly powerful five-passenger sport sedan, the RS E-Tron GT is remarkably efficient, costing a fraction as much to keep it rolling as Audi’s saucy, gas-powered RS 7. But in the EV world, it falls short of its competitors. Rated at 3.0 Le/100 km in the city, 2.9 on the highway, and 2.9 combined, (26.4/25.5/26.0 kWh/100 km), the Audi is slightly less efficient than similarly-priced Porsche Taycan GTS and Tesla Model S Plaid.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) gives the RS E-Tron GT a rated range of 373 km, which is decent, but again it falls short of the Taycan GTS and substantially so of the Model S’s 560-km range, let alone the game-changing Lucid Air. Unlike some EVs, the Audi had no trouble matching or exceeding the rated range during testing, even during an early spring week and with the car wearing less efficient winter tires.

Perhaps compensating for its shorter range, the Audi is rated for charge speeds of up to 270 kW – although finding a DC fast-charger that’ll actually deliver that consistently may be a challenge. Plugged into a Level 2 charger, the RS e-tron GT needs upwards of 10 hours for a complete charge. It comes with four years of complimentary high-speed charging through Electrify Canada’s network, up to a total of 1,400 kWh.

Comfort: 8.5/10

The RS E-Tron GT’s front seats are excellent, offering stellar support and bolstering to keep occupants in place during high-speed manoeuvres, yet they’re adjustable enough to give plenty of comfort even for long hauls in traffic. The ride, too, is surprisingly compliant given the car’s performance capabilities. It’s firm but not so stiff to be jarring over frost-heaved pavement, and both wind and road noise are nicely hushed. Audi has programmed a significant amount of fabricated sound effects, yet they seem well-suited for this machine and complement the driving excitement.

Features: 9/10

From the stylish up-sized wheels to the enormous glass roof, the RS E-Tron GT is suitably equipped for a premium car in this segment, and its interior materials are superior to those found in a Tesla. There are two charge ports (one on each front fender), that can make life easier when using public chargers. It’s a feature all of us at AutoTrader would like to see on more EVs.

There’s onboard navigation, a wonderfully powerful audio system, plus heated and cooled seats, although the cooling portion is part of an option package. A head-up display is standard, along with a self-parking function for either perpendicular or parallel spots.

Safety: 9/10

Neither the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have crash-tested the E-Tron GT, but Audi has given it a comprehensive active safety suite including lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, automated emergency braking, and surround-view cameras.

User-Friendliness: 9/10

The cockpit design does an excellent job of managing the significant amount of information and functions a driver faces in a modern luxury car. The digital gauge display can be configured to prioritize the information a driver desires, including a map view. The infotainment screen is a 10-inch touch-activated affair with sensible menus. Audi has mercifully bucked the trend of using glass panels for all switches and controls, instead providing a row of actual buttons for the climate system, and a separate one for other secondary controls like the automated parking and drive mode selector. Even the audio system is manipulated with a clever circular pad that works by swirling a finger to increase or decrease volume, and tapping to tune.

Practicality: 7/10

Although there are seat belts for five, the unlucky soul stuck in the middle of the backseat had better be small. Otherwise, the four outbound occupants have decent leg oom, but headroom in the rear is somewhat compromised by the dramatically raked roofline.

Under the liftgate, the cargo hold has a volume of 340 L, and the rear seats will split and fold to offer more space. It’s not SUV-huge, but still offers enough room for four to escape for a weekend. And thanks to standard all-wheel drive and with a good set of winter tires, that weekend getaway could happen any time of year.

Value: 7/10

Starting at $184,900, the RS E-Tron GT isn’t going to fly off the showroom floors in vast numbers. Still, compared to its Taycan cousins, this Audi measures up price-wise against the mid-pack GTS trim from Porsche despite having more power.

Tesla’s recent sweeping price reductions have made its EVs a stronger value, and when equipped similar to this RS E-Tron GT, ring in very close to this test car’s price of nearly $200,000 after options and fees. It’s a very costly machine, but its style, technology, luxury, and performance make it a decent value.

The Verdict

The 2023 Audi’s RS E-Tron GT is a truly special car offering the benefits of a genuine sport sedan with excellent handling and scintillating thrust, but also the pragmatism of an EV. It has the ability to increase an owner’s heart rate based on its styling alone, nevermind its sizzling performance. And yet, it’s comfortable, composed, and well equipped to serve as a brilliant daily driver, whether commuting in urban stop-and-go traffic or strafing backroads for a weekend away. There are few machines on the market at any price that blend so many attributes so effectively as this one, making it a worthy option for buyers in the fortunate position of shopping for a performance sedan in this realm.

Engine Displacement 475 kW
Engine Cylinders Dual electric motors
Peak Horsepower 637 hp
Peak Torque 612 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 3.0 / 2.9 / 2.9 Le/100 km cty/hwy/cmb, 26.4 / 25.5 / 26.0 kWh/100 km; 373 km est. range
Cargo Space 340 L
Model Tested 2023 Audi RS E-Tron GT
Base Price $184,900
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,850
Price as Tested $197,740
Optional Equipment
$9,890 – RS Design package – red, $6,650; 21-inch wheels, $1,500; Tango Red paint, $890; Carbide Brakes with red calipers, $500; Black badges, $350