New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review
Electric coupe-SUVs are hugely popular right now - so is the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback the right car at the right time?
Most people will choose the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron for the way it looks. But the big news here is that if you want the sleek styling of a coupe SUV but aren’t prepared to compromise when it comes to space or practicality, then this Tesla Model Y-rival comes alarmingly close to being a zero compromise family car. Roomy, good to drive and built like an Audi should be, the Q4 Sportback will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people.
Audi, too, has launched its fair share of sleek SUVs in its time. But where others suffer with regards to headroom or boot space, the designers in Ingolstadt have repeatedly managed to navigate around the supposedly inevitable compromises when it comes to packaging and practicality.
The e-tron Sportback is a perfect example of this – though its sheer size probably plays a part here. The smaller Q3 Sportback is another, however, boasting that characteristic coupe roofline without severe detriment for those sitting in the back.
Car group tests
Now it’s the turn of the Q4 e-tron. On paper, the Sportback is actually more practical than the conventional SUV; measured to the parcel shelf, the coupe’s boot stands at 535 litres – 15 litres more than the normal Q4. Fold the seats down and the standard SUV has the advantage, though not by much; 1,490 litres plays 1,460 litres. There’s space under the floor to store the charge cables, too.
You might expect rear-seat practicality to suffer, but Audi’s designers have once again managed to be creative here – carving space out of the roof to ensure there’s enough room even for those approaching six-foot. There isn’t surplus headroom for taller passengers, but knee and legroom is very generous indeed.
From the B-pillar forward, you get the very same cabin you’ll find in the standard Q4 e-tron. It feels markedly more plush than the Volkswagen ID.4 on which it shares its platform with. The central screen is integrated into the dash rather than being perched on top of it, and it works well, with a row of separate buttons for the climate control underneath.
Quality is very good, doing enough to elevate the Q4 above its Volkswagen Group siblings – justifying its premium in the process. Speaking of which, prices start from £41,535 for the Q4 e-tron Sportback 35 in Sport trim – £1,500 more than the equivalent Q4 e-tron SUV.
Sport models get a long list of kit, and as such, it’s the trim level we’d recommend. Entry-level versions come with LED lights, 19-inch wheels, a 10.1-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Audi’s terrific Virtual Cockpit dials. Aside from the sports suspension, tweaks for S line models are mainly visual, bringing bigger wheels and sportier bumpers, as well as privacy glass and brushed aluminium trim.
Ignoring the limited-run Edition 1, Vorsprung variants top the range. These models get a panoramic roof, Matrix LED lights, electrically-adjustable seats and a head-up display, plus bigger digital dials, a premium stereo and various driver aids.
Go for the basic e-tron Sportback 35 and you’ll get the smaller 52kWh battery and the less-powerful 168bhp electric motor. Upgrading to the e-tron 40 we have here grants you a 77kWh battery and a bit more power, while the e-tron 50 adds a second motor to the front axle for quattro all-wheel drive.
While we’ve not yet tried the entry-level model, it feels as if this mid-range e-tron 40 is likely to be the pick of the line-up. The longer range means you’re less dependent on the occasionally patchy public charging network, while the added power makes the Q4 perfect for everyday driving.
The Audi can’t match more powerful rivals when it comes to outright acceleration, but it’s quick enough. You get that familiar instant kick when you put your foot down and it’ll pull strongly well past the national speed limit. Even over our fast-paced test route we saw more than 3.0mi/kWh, which suggests a range of 250 miles or more should be easily achievable in real-world running.
The Q4’s charging speeds are competitive in this area of the market, too; 125kW charging is standard, meaning a 10-80% top-up is possible in just 34 minutes. Charging to full at home via a 7kW wallbox takes a little over 12 hours from empty.
You’d have to drive the Sportback back-to-back against the standard Q4 e-tron to discover any discernible difference in the way the two drive, but regardless, the Q4 Sportback feels secure, stable and all-but silent on the move. Only when you really push on do you notice a degree of tyre or wind noise filter through to the cabin.
As we’ve seen in other MEB-based electric cars, the Q4 feels agile and grip is good. The thing that saps it of any true engagement, however, is the steering, which although accurate enough, is devoid of any feedback. This doesn’t improve as you cycle through the various drive modes either.
But what it lacks in fun, it makes up for when it comes to comfort. Admittedly, our car was fitted with Audi’s optional adaptive dampers, but equipped as such, the Q4 remained both relatively flat when cornering, as well as nicely cushioned over rough roads.
Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron 40 Sport
77kWh battery, single e-motor
Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
324 miles, 0g/km
10-80% in 34 minutes (125kW)