► The third EV from Audi
► Now in Sportback edition
► It's going to do numbers
If the e-Tron SUV is the pioneer and the e-Tron GT is the speed and glamour, then the new Audi Q4 Sportback e-Tron is the EV that’ll pay Ingolstadt’s R&D bills. Based on the VW Group’s meticulously planned MEB platform, this small, electric crossover trades on the unstoppable SUV and EV trends seen in China and, well, everywhere.
But is Audi’s third electric car any good? We drove a left-hand drive example of the new Q4 Sportback e-Tron around Buckinghamshire to find out.
It certainly looks like an Audi…
From the outside, the Q4 e-Tron follows the same semi-aggressive styling we’ve come to expect from the four rings. An inverted grille takes centre stage, and the rest of the car is a pleasing mixture of details, sharp lines and fussy light technology. Of course, the Sportback’s plunging roofline looks the better of the two models, though Audi says only 16% of UK consumers will go for the sleeker, fastback shape.
Inside, the Q4 e-Tron follows the same formula as other contemporary Audis: there’s a single 10.1-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, a virtual cockpit for digital dials and thankfully the climate control is still operated by real buttons. However, superfluous tech has crept into the steering wheel, which now features touch-sensitive buttons with haptic feedback (these may take some getting used to).
New for the Q4 Sportback e-Tron is an impressive S-Class-like head-up display, which beams the usual stuff like speed and directions, but also has helpful AR capabilities. Arrows and adaptive cruise info are beamed directly into your eyeline and can highlight the distance between you and the car in front – or make it really obvious which road to turn down. It’s neat stuff.
Swipe through a few menus and you’ll also find Q4 offers customers the ability to customize its day running light signatures. Four designs are available, all use Audi’s complex lighting systems to great effect – and it’s quite possible more variations will be added in future. A vital feature? Of course not, but a nice way to set ‘your’ Q4 apart from the rest.
However, the electric Q4 interior’s most important feature is the sheer amount of space on offer. Aside from a matchbox-sized gear selector, there’s not a hint of a transmission tunnel – and it means the Q4 feels like a much larger car once you shut the door. Think Q5 space with a Q3 footprint and you’re pretty much there. The rear is commendably roomy.
What’s it like to drive?
It doesn’t take much driving to realise the new Q4 e-Tron – in both SUV and Sportback shapes – is a new benchmark for electric SUVs, and smaller ones especially.
Steering is positive though not incredibly direct, while the chassis also contends with body roll well – even when opening up the 40’s 200-ish horses on roundabouts and country roads. The Q4 doesn’t have the agility of an e-Tron GT of course, but it’s keener to turn in than the Skoda Enyaq and VW ID.4 with which it shares its platform, and it doesn’t feel overly cumbersome considering the heft of those batteries onboard.
What’s more, the Q4’s weight and dynamic aspirations somehow don’t result in an overly firm ride, despite the large alloy wheels on offer; the Q4 soaked up potholes and poor road surfaces admirably on our drive.
Just as you’d expect, the Q4 e-Tron is quick to 30mph and takes a respectable 8.5 seconds to get to 62mph, but the torque continues regardless of the speed you’re doing. And unlike other EVs, we found the throttle response to be perfectly judged for the chassis’ capabilities.
All Q4 e-Tron models have a more pronounced regen ‘B-mode,’ but higher trims also feature user adjustable regen, too. Three different levels are available, and it’s possible to switch between them with paddles; it’ll remain a novelty for some, but others will surely use them on entering roundabouts or bends to shave off speed in place of – or before – braking.
Range and specs
The 40 comes with 201bhp and 228lb ft of torque, with an 82kWh (77kwh net) battery that’ll squeeze in 80 miles of charge in just 10 minutes – provided you have a compatible charger to hand. Top speed is 99mph for mid-range Q4, while range can stretch to 316 miles. Audi forecasts the 40 making up 60% of overall sales.
Opt for the 50 powertrain and you’ll get 295bhp and 339lb ft of torque across front and rear axles, while 0 to 62mph will take just 6.2 seconds. In 50 quattro flavour, the Q4 e-Tron has a ceiling of 111mph and slightly shorter range of 298 miles.
Designed to do everything well and nothing incredibly, the Q4 Sportback e-Tron is peak Audi, only electric. On paper it ticks all the boxes, and in the real-world, it’s hard to find serious fault.
Buckinghamshire seemed to swarm with Q3s and Q5s, and it's not a leap to assume the Q4 e-Tron Sportback will tempt many of those existing Audi SUV owners with its new blend of style, practicality and tech. Not to mention temptingly low benefit-in-kind tax rates.
Just as the name suggests, this is a Q4 that happens to be electric. The suits are already counting the cash; bosses say the Q4 e-Tron could become the second best-selling Audi as early as next year.