New Audi RS e-tron GT prototype first drive – electric car facelifted for 2024

A new facelifted version of the Audi e-tron GT is arriving in the UK this summer and we've driven a prototype to see what's new. Here's what we found out in our early test drive.....

Audi e-tron GT front left driving

The concept of "known unknowns" was first floated by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was talking about international politics, but he could have been referring to this heavily updated Audi e-tron GT

That’s because when we tested the car, Audi’s engineers were incredibly tight-lipped and wouldn’t talk about many of the technical details – even though we know quite a bit about it from the outgoing version of the e-tron GT, and the upgrades recently made to the closely-related Porsche Taycan. So there are things we know about the new e-tron GT, things we think we know, and then things we know we don’t know.

Audi e-tron GT right driving

Here’s what we know for sure: the e-tron GT is a sleek grand tourer that serves as a flagship model for Audi’s range of bespoke electric cars and the new version is due on sale in the UK in mid-2024. It shares a platform with the Taycan, but it’s slightly softer than that machine, with a slightly more all-rounder, real-world focus. Audi offers the e-tron GT in two versions: the standard form is really fast, while the ultra-spicy RS e-tron GT is crazily fast.

It’s proved popular so far: Audi has sold more than 35,000 since it launched back in 2021. It looks pretty cool, too, and you might remember Tony Stark drives one when he’s not busy being Iron Man. But just as Stark was always tinkering with his superhero suit, Audi has kept on tinkering with the e-tron GT. And that’s resulted in this mid-life facelift – although it’s not really much of a facelift. Our test car had camouflage livery, but that couldn't hide that Audi hasn’t really messed with the styling.

Audi e-tron GT front driving

Plenty has changed under the sleek bodywork though. We know there are new, more powerful and efficient electric motors, and new batteries with more capacity and new cell chemistry. We also know it’s faster, has more range and can charge faster. But Audi won’t tell us exactly how powerful the motors are, how big the new batteries are, how fast the car will go, or how many miles it will go between charging.

What’s the Audi e-tron GT facelift like to drive? 

Audi wouldn’t even tell us for certain which version of the car we were driving, although from the hints and performance it was pretty obvious that it was the more powerful RS e-tron GT, and like in a new Performance variant. How powerful is it? Well, this is educated guesswork, but with the more hardcore Taycan now offering 764bhp, we’d expect the RS e-tron GT to offer about 700bhp in top spec.

It certainly felt like plenty of power from behind the wheel, and you wouldn’t want or need for more acceleration or pace from an electric grand tourer. There’s boundless acceleration from the off (enough to create a bit of warp-speed blur as you charge forward if you really want).

Audi e-tron GT front left driving

The Taycan is now available with 82kWh and 97kWh batteries, and they use a new chemistry that allows them to discharge energy more quickly and be charged up faster. That allows the Taycan to charge at speed of up to 320kW, and we’d expect the e-tron GT to do the same.

As for how far it will go, the outgoing RS e-tron GT has an official range of 283 miles, and given the range increase for the Taycan we’d expect that to be well past 300 miles now.

There are some aspects of the updated e-tron GT that we do know a bit more about. Audi’s engineers were much happier to talk about the advanced new active suspension set-up. It’s a very complex system, which uses hydraulic actuators to adjust each wheel to smooth out the ride. It uses the car’s sensors to read the road ahead to automatically adjust the suspension in preparation for bumps and dips, which is designed to make the ride smoother. It also can tilt the car and pitch forwards or backwards when turning into corners.

Audi e-tron GT rear left driving

The system is subtle but effective, and you can feel it working as you drive - especially on a bumpier road. It helps ease out the worst of the lumps, while also helping you maintain speed round corners. It actually feels quite natural too.

Audi has also tuned the system to work differently in the various drive modes, in an effort to broaden the e-tron GT’s performance. So in a standard mode it will focus on smoothing out the ride, while in sportier mode it will stiffen up to make for sharper turn in and handling. There’s another party gimmick too: touch the door handle and the suspension will raise the car up to make it even easier to get in.

James Attwood test driving Audi e-tron GT

What’s the Audi e-tron GT facelift like inside?

Inside, the dashboard of our prototype test car was covered up, but we wouldn’t expect too many changes from the outgoing e-tron GT given how popular the previous model has proven.

Audi e-tron GT facelift verdict and specs

Without knowing full technical details of the e-tron GT it’s hard to form really firm conclusions about it. But from this early taste it feels like an effective update that makes the e-tron GT both more comfortable if you drive it in relaxing fashion, and more sporty if you decide to push on. That could be a tempting formula that could win over even more buyers looking for a stylish electric GT. That said, a final verdict must wait until we know for sure about many of the details that currently remain unknown.

2024 Audi RS e-tron GT price and specs

Price £130,000 (est) Engine Two electric motors Power 700bhp (est) Torque 750lb ft (est) Gearbox 1-spd automatic 0-62mph 3.0sec (est) Top speed 155mph (est) Official range 340 miles (est) CO2/tax 0g/km, 2%

Key rivals:

Porsche Taycan

Tesla Model S 

Read more: The best electric cars

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