The base Audi E-Tron GT is as nicely appointed and great to drive as its more powerful RS sibling.
That the base Audi E-Tron GT is a total banger is by no means a surprise. Yeah, it's a detuned version of its 637-horsepower RS counterpart, but with solid architecture building a foundation for great on-road manners, I promise, the standard GT is anything but a snoozefest.
RS or not, every E-Tron GT has the same powertrain -- one that's shared with the Porsche Taycan. A 93.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack sends power to a pair of electric motors, managed by a two-speed transmission. Thanks to the E-Tron GT's 800-volt vehicle architecture, it can accept charging speeds of up to 270 kilowatts, meaning you can bring the battery from flat to an 80% state of charge in about 20 minutes.
As for the numbers, the base E-Tron GT delivers a maximum of 522 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque on overboost, resulting in a 3.9-second 0-to-60-mph time. Is the RS E-Tron GT quicker? You betcha. And while you'll definitely notice the 0.8-second disparity if you're activating launch control and cannonballing down a runway, in daily driving, you'll never lack for instant, unrelenting thrust. The GTs' range estimates aren't too far apart, either, with the base E-Tron rated at 238 miles and the RS coming in just behind it at 232.
When it comes to the E-Tron GT's ride and handling, both the base and RS models offer a similarly great experience. All E-Tron GTs have a three-chamber air suspension with Comfort and Dynamic settings, and though the difference between these modes isn't huge, the GT nevertheless strikes a near-perfect balance of supple comfort and taut stability. The electronic power steering gets quicker in Dynamic mode, too, but the E-Tron GT definitely takes a backseat to the Taycan in this department. Porsche is known for its quick, communicative steering and it's a key attribute that sets these German siblings apart.
Performance-enhancing technologies like torque vectoring and rear-axle steering really amp up the experience, making the E-Tron GT incredibly agile. These goodies are standard on the RS, but are available for the base E-Tron GT by way of a $6,000 option pack that also includes 20-inch wheels, laser headlights, carbon fiber interior bits and blacked-out exterior trim. Larger 21-inch wheels are also available, if that's your jam.
Like the Porsche Taycan, the E-Tron GT doesn't offer much in the way of regenerative braking. You can dial in a little bit of regen through the paddles on the steering wheel, but it makes a negligible difference in how the car drives and the user experience is sort of backwards, since you use the would-be downshift paddle to add regen. Audi insists it's more efficient for an EV to coast instead of instantly recuperate and the company says its customers prefer a more natural braking feel, but I counter by saying one-pedal driving is an experience that's wholly unique to EVs and a cool one at that. Why not just make it an on/off switch like Ford does on the Mustang Mach-E?
Funnily enough, when you hit the brake pedal, the E-Tron GT actually does use regen to initially slow the car down, until you input enough force to activate the mechanical stoppers. The standard E-Tron GT uses steel brakes and the transition between energy recuperation and caliper touching rotor is imperceptible. The RS E-Tron GT comes standard with Audi's (and Porsche's) surface-coated brakes, but you can option more powerful carbon ceramics as part of an RS-exclusive Year One package that comes with a bunch of upholstery and design upgrades but costs -- gulp -- $20,350.
Speaking of upholstery, you can get the E-Tron GT with a sustainable (and vegan) leather-free interior, though beautifully stitched cow hides are optional if you're not as eco-minded. The GT's cockpit is a lot busier than the Taycan's, with far more buttons and knobs and a weird little circular pad of audio controls placed to the right of the cup holders. But even so, the overall cabin quality is exactly what you'd expect from an Audi, with impeccable fit and finish and great attention to detail. The rear seats are able to accommodate average-sized adults without issue, though like the Taycan, the E-Tron GT is not a hatchback, so beware the somewhat small trunk opening. Base E-Tron GTs are only available with a glass roof that can't be opened and isn't tinted enough to block out the sun and glare, which is stupid. If you want the solid carbon fiber roof, you have to buy the RS.
Both E-Tron GT models get Audi's excellent Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster, as well as a 10.1-inch central infotainment screen running the company's easy-to-use MIB3 software, complete with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. A full suite of driver-assistance goodies are included, too, though lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are bundled as a $2,250 option on the entry-level E-Tron GT Premium Plus trim.
You'll need $100,995 to get into the Premium Plus E-Tron GT, a number that includes $1,095 for destination but excludes any potential federal or local tax credits. All in, you're looking at right around $120,000 for a fully loaded E-Tron GT Prestige, which undercuts the more powerful RS E-Tron by about $20,000. Considering these two E-Trons are so dang similar in the way they look and drive, I'd skip the RS upgrade, personally. But with an EV this well-rounded and entertaining, either way, you can't go wrong.