I must admit: I was a little nervous before my “maiden voyage” in an electric car. Even though I’d read a lot and everyone I knew who had experience with electric vehicles had assured me it was “really easy”, I still had jitters. But maybe that was because of the type of electric car: I had picked none other than the electric sports car, the Audi RS e-tron GT, quite possibly the sportiest and most impressive model in the world of electromobility.
How about a few stats? 598 PS, a curb weight of 2,323 kilograms, just under five metres long. Coming face-to-face with such a beast is enough to make anyone quake in their boots. Sinon Eljezi, an Audi expert at the AMAG Utoquai garage in Zürich, confirms that it is indeed “a rocket” as we stand next to the car, ready to begin my test drive. I continue to be amazed when I get a look at the interior: The cockpit seems huge even though, unlike other Audi models, there are two screens instead of three. Despite that, there’s still a phenomenal range of functions. The navigation system includes a special e-route planner, which takes you to fast charging stations and cools the battery before you reach them, thus shortening the charge time.
On the map, I can also see the radius in which I could still travel. Best case scenario, I could drive up to 472 kilometres – that could take me to the Ligurian Sea. I won’t make it that far today though, since my test drive is only an hour and a half. The massage function in the sport seats puts you in a bit of a holiday mood. “You almost feel like you’re on a plane”, says Eljezi.
Author Tom Wyss on his test drive of the Audi RS e-tron GT.
After my short briefing, I’m ready for “take-off”. “So, what’s this thing actually like to drive?”, I ask incredulously. The response was quick and to the point: “Exactly the same as in a petrol car!” But that only became clear to me later on. I press the start button – and don’t hear anything. Is the engine running? I press down on the throttle – and realise: hey, the engine’s on! The car is incredibly quiet when it sets off compared to my petrol car because electromagnetic induction makes no noise. What’s more, it’s only right at the beginning that I notice the vehicle weighs over 2.3 tonnes, which is 1.5 times heavier than my car at home. Despite that, the Audi RS e-tron GT’s steering is smooth and never feels heavy, even on roundabouts.
I’m gliding – I can’t think of another way to describe it. There are built-in artificial sounds so you don’t have to drive around in complete silence. Of course, the main purpose is to alert passers-by that an electric car is speeding towards them. Although I doubt anyone would miss the Audi RS e-tron GT: You’re sure to turn a few heads driving one of these!
I can’t pay enough attention to the response. As this is my first time in an electric car, I give it my full focus. And I need to, at least to start with. But I quickly develop an intuitive feel for driving. Okay, so I have an advantage: my private car is an automatic and the transition to electric is simple because you’ve got full torque at all times, meaning you don’t need a gearstick.
What else? I like to drive fast, so I love the fact that your speed is displayed on the windscreen. That means that I can always see it while keeping my eyes on the road. Something unusual catches my eye, a green shoe icon that indicates the chance for recuperation. This shows me that I could recover some power, since by driving carefully, you can save energy with electric cars. You can do this in the Audi RS e-tron GT with coasting or brake recuperation.
Sinon Eljezi, an Audi expert at the AMAG Utoquai garage in Zürich, explains the Audi RS e-tron GT.
I haven’t really been paying attention to that today. This car’s horsepower is just way too tempting. I leave the city to test it out. I’d love to take a short trip to Germany to unleash the beast on the motorway there. I don’t have enough time for that but can at least enjoy a short stretch on Switzerland’s A52 motorway. Even that is enough to experience the striking difference to my own car: With 160 PS, this already zooms past a fair few other road users. However, accelerating in the Audi RS e-tron GT is like being launched by a catapult! From 0 to 100 in 3.3 seconds, my passenger and I are literally pressed back into our sports seats. This electric car is sensational!
Later, I get two chances to be at the front of the queue at a red light in a 60 km/h zone. Here, you need to stay alert to any nearby speed cameras. You’ll hit 60 km/h in a flash and the driver behind will be no more than a dot in your rear-view mirror.
My assessment: It’s great fun to drive, easy to handle – and I can sleep easy at night knowing that the drive technology is sustainable. The test drive in the Audi RS e-tron GT left me very satisfied. Granted: I didn’t have enough time to try out all of the gadgets that the e-tron has to offer. Above all, I didn’t get the chance to have a go at charging the car in “the wild”, which is the key factor aside from the drive when transitioning to electromobility.
Sinon Eljezi from the AMAG Utoquai garage assures me after we get back that that’s not witchcraft either though. He shows me how it’s done at a public charging station back at the garage: Hold your charging card up to the display, plug in – job done. To find out about what to think about when charging in public, check out this article. Tip: Subscribe to selected brands, for example, Audi’s e-tron Charging Service, and all across Europe you’ll be able to take advantage of a well-developed infrastructure of almost 280,000 charging stations.
Luckily for me there are several wall boxes installed in my apartment block’s underground garage, so I could conveniently charge a vehicle over night. A quick look at a map of Switzerland shows me that I would have no problems day-to-day with an electric car because there are plenty of public charging stations. In my home town of Stäfa ZH alone, there are three charging stations and on the right bank of Lake Zurich, there are several dozen.
I leave the AMAG garage in Utoquai with the feeling that I’m ready for electromobility. Only one thing is still missing for perfect e-happiness: The amount I’d need in my piggy bank for the Audi RS e-tron GT sports car!
An overview of the Audi RS e-tron GT
Performance: 440 kW = 598 PS (up to 646 PS in boost mode)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 3.3 sec.
Range (WLTP) up to 472 km
Battery charges from 5% to 80% in 22.5 mins (with charging stations delivering up to 250 kW)
Charging station: 800 volts
Battery capacity: 83.7 kWh
Basic price: CHF 198,390
About the author: Tom Wyss is a journalist from the Ringier Brand Studio and writes texts on electromobility in conjunction with AMAG Retail. He still drives a petrol-powered car in his private life but is looking to switch to an electric car.