EVs on ICE: Snow drifting the Audi RS e-tron GT and RS5

Bertrand D'souza Updated: April 06, 2023, 02:28 PM IST

On the power, play with the steering, feel the rear slide out, now power, power, power and opposite lock. I get a thumbs up from the chief instructor. Feels good to have got that right. 20 seconds to complete that exercise and a dozen times doing it all over again. You get better at this, controlling a car on ice. This is the Audi driving experience, a special being conducted in Austria as a beginner level course for amateurs. I'd like to think I'm a bit better than a novice, having participated in several winter driving experiences across the world and having conducted our very own event here in India. But my interests lie in a slightly different direction. This particular program is very unique because it gives me a flavour of two very different cars, one an ICE and one an EV. Two very different characters, powertrains and overall abilities. One is easily one of the finest examples of a sports sedan there exists on the planet. The other is one of the finest examples of a sporty electric vehicle. Both intend to provide pleasure, driving pleasure but both do it in a very different manner. For years we've been driving ICE cars in these conditions, can that same sense of joy and thrill be replaced by an EV?

Not yet. An EV comes close to an ICE in these particular conditions, but its not entirely there yet.

With an EV there are principally 2 debilitating factors. One is the weight and position of the batteries. The other is getting the hang of the throttle pedal. How much and how long?

The RS e-tron GT is a fabulous car, its powertrain that uses a 93.4kWh battery pack can put out a peak 646PS and 830Nm of torques give it an acceleration figure from 0-100kph in just 3.3 blistering seconds. The speed is of little consequence though without the right amount of dynamics abilities, the ability to control the immense G-forces created in corners or in a straight line.  This is where the 630 kilo battery comes into play. It is placed between the front and rear axles, distributing the weight almost 50:50 between the front and the rear. The battery weight along with the electric motors also places the centre of gravity extremely low, ideal conditions for a sports car. On tarmac. On ice this makes it harder to throw around sideways. And given that the course demands you switch off all traction control aids, the big battery pack positioned as it is makes it extremely hard to shift weight between the front and rear axles to get the car to understeer or oversteer. This isn't bad, its just not fun.

In the RS5 this is much simpler. Get off the gas and the weight tilts forward, making the rear axle lighter and easier to induce oversteer. This induces glorious sideways action, at the drop of a hat, all you need to do is either use the brakes or the throttle to keep transferring the weight and get the desired outcome. The RS5 is a hoot on ice.

The other challenge with the RS e-tron GT is throttle modulation. Its harder to deduce just how much throttle pedal action is required to get a certain result. So you have to gently modulate the throttle, too much and you get a 100 percent torque electrifying the motors, this spins the wheels right out of whack, upsetting everything. An EV on ice is not as much fun, its just too much work. You have to keep repeating the action, several times, until muscle memory retains every nuance required to throw the car sideways.

The RS5 on the other hand is just so much simpler, you know exactly just how much throttle input is needed, its significantly more linear like that. And you have the advantage of listening to the engine note just in case the seat of your pants isn't enough to gauge the effects. So give or take two attempts and you're well on your way to becoming a drift god on ice.

All in all the RS e-tron GT is also a lot of fun, it just takes longer to master. When you're overseas with little time to spare to work out the intricacies of going sideways on ice, time is not a luxury. So it's the RS5 for me, an oldie but a firm BFF that does the trick. EVs, leave them on ice.


Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 2.05 Crore
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)

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