RS e-tron GT vs R8: Future vs Past Battle on the Runway


One presents power through electrons. The other boasts a V10-fueled roar. Both the RS e-tron GT and R8 represent Audi at its best.

Like more than a few manufacturers, Audi stands at the crossroads. Behind it, high-performance, gasoline-fueled wonders like the R8, RS 2 and the ur-Quattro. Ahead, an electric path forged by the e-tron family, including the new champion of the cause, the RS e-tron GT. Each path represents Ingolstadt at its best.

Thus, there’s but one question: which of those paths would take the gold in a series of drags, rolls and immediate stops? Carwow‘s Mat Watson sets about to find this out by pairing the best of the best against each other, in the forms of the RS e-tron GT and the R8.

Audi RS e-tron GT

“I’m sitting in the new Audi RS e-tron GT,” said Watson, “which is now the most powerful Audi you can buy. It’s even more powerful than an R8, believe it or not […] It’s got two electric motors; together, they provide 646 horsepower when you’re launching it. They also deliver [612 lb-ft] of torque. It’s got a two-stage automatic gearbox. It’s got a launch stage and a high-speed stage for the gearbox, so you can be quick off the line and do decent, sustained high speed.”

Alas, the RS e-tron GT also weighs more than the R8, coming in at 5,174 pounds versus the R8’s 3,616 pounds. However, the R8 is outgunned on power (620 horses and 384 lb-ft of torque) and price ($178,000 USD vs the electric Audi’s $157,000 USD). That said, the R8 still makes lovely noises through the 5.2-liter V10, while the RS e-tron GT must make due with random screaming noises from the editor.

Audi R8 vs Audi RS e-tron GT

“The big question here is this is the most powerful Audi now, but is it the quickest,” asks Watson. “This is gonna be so exciting.”

The answer is a resounding yes. On the first drag, Watson quickly pulls away to take the win. However, the R8 driver says that happened due to the R8 bogging down after a successful launch. The second and third drags are also won by Watson and the RS e-tron GT thanks to the R8 short-shifting. Yet, the third drag was the closest it got to the EV.

Audi R8 vs Audi RS e-tron GT

“Now, we have a rolling race from 50 miles an hour,” said Watson, “with the cars in their normal comfy setting. I’m actually going in Efficiency mode, and I’m gonna be very not very efficient, actually.”

Three rolling races, two driving modes, and one errant bunny later, the R8 beat the RS e-tron GT. Plus, it stopped from 70 mph a half-car before the EV. Those wins likely came from the weight advantage the R8 has over the new kid. Overall, the V10 still has it, though it’s only a matter of time before the e-tron fully surpasses its ancestors.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

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