Audi plans to upgrade its E-tron and E-tron Sportback electric SUVs with a new-generation battery, affording them longer ranges, as part of their facelifts during the latter half of 2022.
The update is aimed at extending the shelf life of the flagship siblings until at least 2025, when they’re set to be replaced by an all-new SUV, possibly called the Q8 E-tron.
Both variants of the updated E-tron – the SUV and rakish-roofed Sportback – have now been spotted in prototype form, revealing that any technical tweaks will arrive alongside subtly overhauled styling, with a new-look grille, revised bumpers and redesigned headlight clusters among the updates.
The RS E-tron GT offers a glimpse at Audi Sport’s electric future and indicates how its offerings will be differentiated from their regular counterparts.
Crucial to the transformation plan will be maintaining the variety and completeness of Audi’s line-up (which today comprises 17 model lines) to avoid losing customers along the way, so a near-direct replacement for every current model is on the cards. For example, the recently revealed A6 E-tron concept heavily previews the electric successor to today’s A6, and it will no doubt follow its predecessor in being offered with a performance range-topper tuned by Audi Sport.
Although the A6 E-tron isn’t intended as an immediate replacement for the A6, it will occupy the equivalent segment in the EV market, and Audi bosses have all but confirmed that an estate version is on the way, too.
Under the skin, the RS GT and base-model Audi e-tron GT Quattro share its 800-volt electrical architecture with corporate sibling Porsche Taycan. The RS GT is roughly equivalent to the Taycan in Turbo S trim. Both Audi and Porsche designs trade some measure of absolute range for slinky styling. The RS GT’s low roof—2 inches lower than an Audi RS 7, for comparison—effectively requires a lower floor, and therefore, a shallower battery pack. While the RS GT is about as quick and powerful as a Tesla Model S, its weight (373-578 pounds more) and relatively modest 83.7-kWh capacity limits range to an EPA-estimated 232 miles, compared to the Tesla’s Model S Long Range’s 375-405 miles range.
But I don’t want to make too much of the comparison. Tesla Model S is a volume-production automobile selling many thousands annually. The Audi is being built in numbers so small as to be practically bespoke within VW Group. The RS GT costs $9,910 more than a Model S Plaid, before options. So it’s not exactly going toe-to-toe with Tesla. The RS GT is destined to be an exotic car bought by quixotic people.
Base price $139,900
Price, as tested $161,890
Powertrain Battery-electric vehicle architecture, with front and rear-mounted permanent-magnet motors (235 hp front/450 hp rear); full-time AWD with single-speed front and two-speed rear transmission; 93.4-kWh lithium battery with 800-volt nominal system voltage
Power/torque 590 hp (637 hp in Boost mode)/612 lb-ft
Length/width/height/wheelbase 196.4/77.3/55.0/114.2 inches
Curb weight 5,139 pounds
0-60 mph 3.1 seconds
Charging rate 5-80% charging maximum 270 kW DC direct/approx. 22.5 minutes
EPA range 232 miles
Owners of an Audi e-tron from the 2019 or 2020 model years can now travel farther on a single charge. A new software update offers an efficiency enhancement that extends their car’s range by up to 20 additional kilometres.
Audi isn’t limiting newly developed efficiency increases to new models, but also boosting the efficiency of 34,000 Audi e-tron 55 quattro EVs already on the road.
Along with increased battery capacity, the new software update optimizes the control of the front electric motor. In normal driving mode, the motor at the rear axle is responsible for propulsion. For improved efficiency, the front electric motor is now almost completely disconnected and powered off – and only when more power is needed do both motors come into play. This makes it possible to even more effectively exploit the major advantage of the asynchronous motor concept, i.e., currentless operation without electrical drag losses.
Both Volkswagen and Audi are brands of the Volkswagen Group. So it should not be a surprise that both of these EVs are built on the same platform and are very similar. But there are also some important differences between the two.
The 2022 Audi e-tron RS GT is putting down 590 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque. The range is rated at 373km.
But it’s out of the range of most people. It starts at CDN$179,000. The one being reviewed goes for CDN$194,535.
The performance places the 2022 Audi e-tron RS GT in the same category as the Porsche Taycan Turbo and Telsa Model S Plaid.