Singapore - Audi Sport (née quattro GmbH) is Audi’s motorsports arm and fully paid-up member of the holy Teutonic trinity of high-performance vehicles, alongside M for BMW and AMG for Mercedes-Benz.
From glorious nat-asp to tubthumping turbocharged and even to today’s electrifying all-electric high-performance vehicles, Audi Sport has run the full gamut of powertrains in bringing the legend of the four rings to avid petrolheads of every inclination, which also segues nicely with our feature today.
The nat-asp V10-engined R8 RWD and all-electric RS e-tron GT quattro may seem to sit at polar extremes of the powertrain spectrum, but when you peel away the puff pastry to get to the meaty centre, you’ll discover that the powerpuff pair perfectly embodies the essence of Audi Sport.
In fact, don’t take our word for it, because we’ve plonked Eddie – the 40-something owner of the zesty Vegas Yellow R8 – into the RS e-tron GT for a few days to see how he feels it lives up to Audi Sport’s towering reputation.
It’s also pretty apropos because Eddie is intimately acquainted with nat-asp V10s and V12s and we figured it would be naughty to see him try to wrap his head around Audi Sport’s interpretation of an all-electric RS machine and of course, whether the RS e-tron GT cuts the mustard as an Audi Sport sportscar.
“Yes it does! Let's talk about the most obvious one – the stupendous acceleration from the RS e-tron GT’s monumental 646hp/830Nm. It makes light work of its heavyweight 2.3-tonnes kerbweight and goes from nought to 100km/h with such a big hit of g force we’re pinned deep into the seats, which leads me to wonder if we need even faster, sub-3secs cars! The rush was addictive and I couldn't stop smiling each and every time I zapped away from the traffic lights under hard acceleration!” Eddie tells us.
He adds, “Best of all, I can share the joy of the RS e-tron GT’s warp-speed all-electric acceleration with at least three other people in comfort… after shopping for groceries to boot! Audi’s tungsten-carbide-coated brakes don’t only deliver stupendous stopping force, they also produce almost zero brake dust, leaving the striking red brake callipers and rims near-spotless after my few days with the car and ahem… some bouts of heavy braking.”
Greenwashing aside, we reckon the electric powertrain is perfectly suited to high-performance cars.
We’re not even going to get into how EV sportscars don’t require ‘warming up’ and you can start’em-up early in the morning and return home late at night without waking up the neighbours.
Why? Enjoying maximum acceleration in your electric sportscar is akin to flicking a light switch on/off.
In other words, the simple act of flicking it leads to almost instant results as the light comes on.
Now think of the RS e-tron GT’s ‘go’ pedal as an ‘on/off switch’ for its electric motor and you’ll quickly understand why any EV’s initial surge spurt inspires shock and awe in EV newbies!
However, we should qualify that while all EVs react in the same way to accelerator inputs, what really separates the emotional and exceptional from the merely electric is in the way the RS e-tron GT handles itself.
It’s not just about being fast, but delivering the ‘feels’ as well, because this separates mere appliances from the truly aspirational cars like the R8 RWD and RS e-tron GT.
True to Audi Sport form, the RS e-tron GT delivers plenty of evocative, livewire feels to the motoring experience.
The powertrain medium might have evolved, but all the engaging elements of the fast-road drive that characterise all RS models are present and accounted for.
He continues, “That’s not all either, because the RS e-tron GT’s trick suspension system deserves special mention. It's unbelievably pliant over road undulations, imperfections and bumps, yet in fast sweeping corners under hard acceleration and braking, it feels well-controlled and perfectly planted. Considering the RS e-tron GT’s proportions and two-plus-tonne kerbweight, it corners with aplomb.”
“True to Audi Sport’s ethos of engaging dynamics, it is surprisingly light on its feet, which is no small feat for such a big GT. Needless to say, the RS e-tron GT looks great too, with a low-slung, sleek and swoopy design that seems to be sculpted by the science of speed, just like my R8,” concludes Eddie.
Just as Audi Sport has added EV models to its ICE repertoire, it also proves that it isn’t shackled to the seminal quattro drivetrain, but is able to engineer engaging rear-drive dynamics, as is demonstrated with the scalpel-sharp driving machine that is the R8 RWD.
“Shouty, thunderous V10, slick-shifting 7spd dual-clutch and unadulterated steering aside, the R8 is blessed with a fluid, cohesive feel to the way it handles… and will rotate entertainingly when you’re pressing hard,” Eddie adds coyly.
“I have driven enthusiastically on wet roads on several occasions, but not once have I felt short-changed from not having an all-wheel drivetrain.”
Audi RS e-tron GT
Audi R8 V10 RWD
An issue for petrolheads who are better accustomed to having the ICE sportscar’s punchy, stirring soundtrack as stimulus to accompany the joy of speed is the electric vehicle’s relative lack of sound, even though the RS e-tron GT is capable of delivering gobstopping propulsive performance.
The point to note is: different powertrains come with different stimuli. The soundtracks between turbocharged and naturally-aspirated engines are already noticeably different and this is even more apparent between ICE and EV.
After all, how can anyone miss the rousing call to arms of the R8’s nat-asp V10 as it stirs to anger?
Eddie says, “The first thing that drew me to the R8 was its nat-asp V10, which sits in the mid-ship like an art-piece under a glass exhibition cover.
The sound it makes, even at 6000rpm, is simply addictive – it's not about the loudness, but its specific tone and don't even get me started on what the remaining 2500rpm sounds like!
He continues, “I don't think I'll ever get bored of hearing the R8’s V10 at full song when I put pedal-to-metal. It’s still such a thrill for me that whenever I chance upon a tunnel or underpass, I'll crack the window open, drop a gear (or two) and enjoy the mighty overture that is one of the surviving wonders of the ICE world. Now THAT's the perfect way to end the day!”
Well, nobody ever said Audi Sport models had to be solely based on ICE vehicles. In the evolution of powertrains, EVs are a natural progression, but it could just as well be fuel cell/hydrogen or whatever comes after that and each will come with the brand’s interpretation of the appropriate go-faster sound.
In the case of the RS e-tron GT, the sleek and sporty grand tourer creates its own groovy blend of e-sound electronica based on driving data (such as speed and drive torque for instance), which is both projected externally, as well as within the cabin to augment the driving experience.
The soundtrack swells in intensity as the outside scenery blurs rapidly and one succumbs to the red-mist and adopts a more sporty style of driving.
Eddie agrees, “It’s not just any sound, but the quality of the sound that affects the stuff we do and enjoy in our daily lives. Be it watching Transformers on a Bowers & Wilkins home theatre system or enjoying Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on a Steinway & Sons piano, the intricacies in sound permeate, raise and change our thoughts and emotions – we just can't help it. Likewise, the sounds produced by sportscars play an important factor in my driving enjoyment and Audi Sport’s interpretation of an electric sports sound for the RS e-tron GT is quite an achievement.”
In keeping with the brand’s Vorsprung durch Technik philosophy (or Vorsprung durch Racing if you like, in the case of Audi Sport), Audi Sport models evolve with the performance and powertrain zeitgeist to constantly challenge dynamic limits, which means the ever-growing portfolio of S/RS (and R8 in this case) models never stands still… both literally and metaphorically.
So, if you’re prepared to commit to a lifetime of emotional and evocative motoring nirvana, you can't go wrong with any of the sporting machines from the brand with the four-rings.
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
Audi R8 V10 5.2 FSI RWD (Type 4S)
Engine 5204cc, 40v, V10, nat-asp
Transmission 7spd S tronic dual-clutch
Top speed 324km/h
Fuel Consumption 12.9l/100km
Audi RS e-tron GT
Battery 93.4kWh, Li-Ion, 800V
Electric Motor 598hp/830Nm
Electric Range up to 472km (WLTP)
0-100km/h 3.6secs (3.3secs Boost)
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
LxBxH 4989 x 1964 x 1396mm
Kerbweight (DIN) 2347kg