First Drive: Is the Q4 e-tron Audi’s game changing EV?

The Q4 e-tron arrives with a whole lot of expectation riding on it – but does it live up to it? Jack Evans finds out.

Audi Q4 e-tron
Audi Q4 e-tron

What is it?

Audi Q4 e-tron
A full-width light bar features at the rear

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It feels like a new electric car comes out each week at the moment, doesn’t it? Here’s the latest to join the fray – Audi’s Q4 e-tron. It joins the standard e-tron and e-tron GT in the firm’s range of EVs, but Audi predicts this to be its big-seller. In fact, it already admits that it expects the Q4 to outsell all of its cars apart from the ever-popular A3.

Needless to say, that means there’s a lot riding on this car. It’s got a cutting-edge platform and loads of innovative touches, but is it any good? We’ve been behind the wheel to find out.

What’s new?

Audi Q4 e-tron
An electric motor provides brisk performance

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The Q4 is underpinned by Volkswagen Group’s ever-present MEB platform. You might have heard of it before because it’s also used underneath the Skoda Enyaq iV, Volkswagen ID.3 and the upcoming Cupra Born. So as well as the myriad electric vehicles already on the market that the Q4 has to compete with, it’s already got a good degree of rivalry from within the Volkswagen stable too.

Inside, we’ve got a blend of the very latest Audi technology with a spacious and practicality-focused cabin. After all, if Audi wants this to succeed, it needs to cater for all sorts of drivers – families included.

What’s under the bonnet?

Audi Q4 e-tron
The larger-battery car can be charged at up to 125kW

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We got behind the wheel of the Q4 e-tron 40 which uses a rear-mounted electric motor linked up to 77kWh battery – the largest that the Q4 will be available with. Audi claims a range of up to 316 miles, while 125kW charging capability means that a five to 80 per cent charge will take just 38 minutes. Use a home 7.4kW charger and a full charge will take eleven and a half hours, so not bad for an overnight stop.

In terms of performance, the Q4 manages the 0-60mph sprint in 8.3 seconds and will carry on top a top speed of 99mph thanks to 201bhp and 310Nm of torque. If you’re after more in the way of performance, then the Q4 50 e-tron is your best bet – it packs two motors enabling a faster sprint to 60mph and all-wheel-drive.

What’s it like to drive?

The Q4 moves off and away in a typically silent, electric fashion. The low-speed ride is a touch jostling – no doubt as a result of the battery weight – but it soon settles down, offering a good degree of support in the corners. The motor feels more than punchy enough, too, and combines with well-weighted steering to provide a surprisingly involving driving experience.

We left the car in ‘B’ mode for much of the time – this leaves the regenerative braking in its most aggressive setting and slows the car down when you lift off the throttle without the need for the brake – though you’ll have to apply it in order to bring the Q4 to a complete stop. There’s no one-pedal driving here.

Visibility is good – though the slim rear screen does make the rear view not as accommodating – and you sit relatively high, giving you a clear view of the road ahead.

How does it look?

Audi Q4 e-tron
The Q4 feels composed out on the road

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Audi has nailed it when it comes to the look of the Q4. It’s a special thing to see, with that huge front grille dominating the overall design of the car but appearing in keeping with its overall proportions. You can also customise the look of the Q4’s LED headlights – a gimmick, for sure, but one that is quite cool in reality.

Audi is also offering a Sportback version of the Q4, bringing the more tapered look that has been applied to a variety of models in the firm’s line-up. It looks good, but to our eyes at least the regular car’s design is just right in the first place.

What’s it like inside?

Audi Q4 e-tron
The interior blends high-definition screens and good quality materials

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Slot in behind the wheel of the Q4 and the first thing you’ll notice is, well, the wheel. It’s almost square and has more than a hint of the Austin Allegro’s famous ‘Quartic’ wheel, but actually feels great to use – and it looks cool too. We’re not such a fan of the black plastic buttons attached to it, which feel a touch flimsy in operation.

Elsewhere, things are very good. We’ve got plenty of high-end materials while there’s a decent amount of space in the back, too. When it comes to boot volume, the Q4 offers up 520 litres of room with the rear seats in place and this increases to 1,490 litres with the seats folded down. You do get more in Skoda’s Enyaq, however.

What’s the spec like?

Audi Q4 e-tron
The square-style wheel makes the interior feel very futuristic

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‘Our’ car in entry-level Sport trim kicked off at £44,275. These models do get plenty of standard equipment, however, including 19-inch wheels and a full 10.1-inch infotainment screen, the latter of which is one of the best around thanks to great responsiveness and usability.

Of course, a smattering of options was also added to our car, bumping its price to £52,685. These included Matrix LED headlights (£1,075), 20-inch alloy wheels (£660) and the aforementioned steering wheel which, at £285, seems like quite good value for the futuristic feel it adds to the cabin.

Verdict

The Q4 is yet another accomplished, polished and premium-feeling electric car. It does feel like a turning point for Audi as it pivots to create electric cars which will more than likely come to replace their regular cars in terms of popularity in a few years.

It just feels as though the biggest hurdle that the Q4 has to overcome resides within the Volkswagen Group as a whole. Using the same MEB platform means that people will, undoubtedly, compare cars from Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat even more closely and, given that the Skoda Enyaq undercuts the Q4 in terms of price by some margin, it feels like it could be quite the competition indeed.

  • Model: Audi Q4 e-tron
  • Base price: £44,275
  • Model as tested: Q4 e-tron 40
  • Price: £52,685
  • Engine: Rear-mounted electric motor with 77kWh battery
  • Power: 201bhp
  • Torque: 310Nm
  • Max speed: 99.4mph
  • 0-60mph: 8.3 seconds
  • MPG: N/A
  • Emissions: 0g/km CO2
  • Range: 316

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