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In-depth reviews

Audi Q4 e-tron - Electric motor, drive and performance

The Audi Q4 e-tron prioritises refinement and comfort, but there’s plenty of performance on offer and it handles very tidily.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Electric motor, drive and performance Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£51,270 to £67,720
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The first thing you notice once on the move in the Audi Q4 e-tron is how refined and comfortable it is. There’s little noise entering the cabin, and it feels easy to drive despite its mid-size family SUV dimensions.

The Q4 e-tron has adaptive steering, and it gains weight at speed to give extra reassurance when tackling a twisty B road, plus its low centre of gravity (due to the position of the battery under the floor) promotes a balanced feel with little body lean. At motorway speeds, it feels predictable and stable, while refinement is very impressive, with just a whisper of wind around the door mirrors and hardly any noise from the powertrain or the tyres.

On twistier A- and B-roads it flows along easily with strong acceleration to launch you out of corners. At a steady pace, it’s a very capable car, but if you push harder through sharp direction changes, the 2,145kg kerb weight starts to make itself felt, and things can become unsettled - as is the case with so many EVs.

The ride quality is largely excellent. Audi engineers have delivered a better package than their Skoda and VW colleagues could manage on the Q4’s Enyaq and ID.4 sister cars. There’s noise if you hit the big potholes and drain covers around town, but the actual impacts are very well cushioned. The ride on good roads is a nice balance of firmness and control, adding to that general feeling of stability in the Q4.

If you aren’t a fan of hushed EV powertrains and want some aural accompaniment to your driving, the e-tron Sport Sound is a £625 option. This comes with four extra speakers – two inside and two outside – that broadcast a purpose-designed sound somewhere between the whine of an amplified electric motor and the woosh of a turbocharged petrol engine. We’re not sure it really adds much to the Q4 e-tron experience.

You probably wouldn’t pick the Q4 e-tron for a fun, Sunday morning blast on your favourite road, but switch to Dynamic mode in the Audi Drive Select system, and a sharper throttle response gives you punchier performance off the line and at higher speeds. There’s more steering weight, too.

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We expect most people will just select the Comfort setting from the various drive modes on offer, because it’s well suited to everyday driving and the car’s overall demeanour. Meanwhile, the Efficiency and Range modes are best left for when you’re running low on range. The latter even limits the car’s speed to 55mph. You need to activate it by going into a separate sub-menu, so you won't accidentally select it, thankfully.

Our experience of the 15mm lower sports suspension on the S line cars is that it is probably a bit too firm for most people. When we lived with a Q4 e-tron S line for six months on a long-term test and thought it made an already firm-ish ride even firmer – not what you want on the UK’s rough roads. 

The ‘B’ mode on the gear selector increases the strength of the regenerative braking, which provides a decent amount of stopping power when you lift off the accelerator, though not enough for true one-pedal driving like you get in Hyundai and Kia’s EVs. 

Alternatively, you can use the traditional ‘D’ mode, which allows you to coast more. Our test car also featured paddles behind the steering wheel, which can add some regenerative braking in D mode, but only temporarily. As soon as you touch the accelerator again, the system resets. We’d recommend people just use the ‘B’ mode instead of constantly tapping the paddles whenever they slow down.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed 

The standard Q4 45 e-tron uses a single electric motor producing 282bhp and 545Nm of torque to drive the rear wheels. It means that even the slowest Audi Q4 e-tron can get to 62mph in 6.7 seconds, and hit a 112mph top speed. This is going to be ample performance for most buyers and it does raise questions over the value of upgrading to the 55 model.

The performance is delivered in quite a leisurely manner, with the taps opening gradually so that the Q4 e-tron never feels in danger of struggling for grip on dry roads. That’s even more the case with the 45 quattro four-wheel drive versions. These have 100kg of extra weight thanks to the extra motor on the front axle, but the extra traction shaves 0.1s off the 0-62mph time.     

If you’re after more pace, all the Q4 55 e-tron models have quattro all-wheel drive. Here, you get 335bhp and 679Nm of torque, making it capable of accelerating to 62mph from a standstill in 5.4 seconds, and hitting a top speed of 112mph. The acceleration is obviously stronger but there’s still a nice linear power delivery, the dual-motor Q4 builds speed without fuss, and it feels almost as responsive to throttle inputs at higher speeds as it does from a standstill.

Incidentally, Audi quotes identical performance stats for the Sportback versions of the Q4 e-tron – that sloping roofline is for looks and range, rather than go.

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Head of digital content

Steve looks after the Auto Express website; planning new content, growing online traffic and managing the web team. He’s been a motoring journalist, road tester and editor for over 20 years, contributing to titles including MSN Cars, Auto Trader, The Scotsman and The Wall Street Journal.

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