New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
The Q4 e-tron is an impressive EV and one of the best cars on the MEB platform yet. It answers the issues of ride comfort, build quality and iffy infotainment that blight VW’s own ID models in a really appealing package with a decent real-world range, too. You pay for the privilege, but with strong residual values it could be a real temptation on a decent lease deal.
If you’ve any doubts about the seriousness with which Audi is taking electrification, the new Q4 e-tron SUV is not only the fourth new model in the brand’s EV line-up, it’s expected to become its second biggest seller overall, after the A3 hatchback.
It’s also the first Audi to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s electric MEB platform, shared with Volkswagen’s ID.3 and 4, Skoda’s Enyaq and the upcoming Cupra Born. But it’s full of Audi flavour with a host of advanced tech and cabin quality, plus design that’s a step more premium than its siblings. As is its price, starting from £40,750 going up to £65,070.
Car group tests
The car we’re driving is the standard Q4 e-tron, but a slightly more svelte, 18mm lower, Sportback version is following down the tracks.
The usual Audi design cues are all present and correct, from the oversized grille – blanked off by a fancy blockwork design – to the sleek LED headlights, crisp surfacing along the sides of the car and slim, full-width LED rear lights that will give you a fancy display when you unlock the car in the dark.
At 1,632mm high it looks a little dumpy in the metal with chunky 19-inch wheels on Sport models (ours had optional 20-inch wheels), pushed as far as possible into the corners, but the bluff, tall front end and short bonnet add to the car’s bulk.
Moving up from Sport to S-Line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung models adds a slightly more dynamic look with bigger 20- or 21-inch wheels and some fancier tech for the lights. But whichever model you choose, this is a big car with big presence.
Swing open the front door and you’re greeted with a driver-focused cabin with the central touchscreen pivoted towards the driver and the gear selector on a panel that protrudes from the lower part of the dash, freeing up space underneath.
The whole design is very minimalist and almost appears shrink wrapped to make the cabin feel as airy and spacious as possible.
The steering wheel is small with a flat top and bottom, complete with touch and swipe sensitive controls. The infotainment system is familiar Audi MMI fare rather than the less intuitive system in VWs, with separate climate controls.
Soft, squishy materials are used across the top of the dash and generally quality is pretty good.
Visibility is good, too, with usefully large door mirrors with the door line dipping to ensure you get the clearest view possible.
True to EV form, there’s more space in the back than you’d get in an internal combustion-engined car of the same size, with a usefully flat floor. The rear doors open wide, while they also have sections carved out of the door liners to give you a bit more storage.
Total boot space of 520-litres includes handy under-floor storage for charging cables, while if you fold the rear seats down you’ll get 1,490 litres of space – that’s pretty much the same as in a Q5.
As with other cars that make use of the MEB platform, there’s a choice of battery sizes plus rear- or four-wheel drive options.
The cheapest way into Q4 e-tron ownership is the 35 model and its 52kWh battery and 168bhp motor with a maximum range of 208 miles; in Sport trim it costs £40,750.
Step up to the 40 model like our car in Sport trim and you’ll pay £44,990 to get a 77kWh battery, 201bhp motor and a range of 316 miles.
Top of the Q4 pile is the 50 car with Quattro four-wheel drive, the same 77kWh battery, but in a configuration that will go for a maximum of 298 miles, yet with 295bhp drops the 0-62mph time from 8.5 seconds to a hot 6.2 seconds.
Our 40 e-tron Sport is probably the sweet spot of the range. Although fully charged, it didn’t quite show a range of 316 miles. It was still above 270 though, and efficiency was impressive, making that prediction seem entirely realistic. With fast charging at 125kW capacity, you can restore 80 miles of range in around ten minutes, too.
The 40 drives nicely with a decent turn of pace, the usual thrill of an instant burst of acceleration and managing to ride the many bumps and potholes of our test route better than any Tesla could – although our car did have the £950 optional suspension with damper control. Even with Sport selected in the Drive Select system it rode nicely, with the weight of the batteries pulling the car down, and the multilink suspension working away to keep the car level.
The new steering wheel makes the car feel sportier than it is, although the low centre of gravity will prevent body roll during cornering. Our car also came with paddles behind the steering wheel to control the amount of regenerative braking, or you can just leave the car to work out what’s best.
But what impresses most is just how comfortable, quiet and easy the Q4 e-tron is to pilot – it’s an appealing car with clever tech and a sense of style and sophistication that help to justify the premium price.
|Model:||Q4 e-tron 40 204PS 150kW Sport|
|Motor/battery:||201bhp electric motor / 77kWh usable|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
|Range:||316 miles (WLTP)|