First Drive

First Drive: Audi Q4 E-Tron

The story: This is a big one for Audi, with an electric entry into a core segment of the market. This little brother to the e-tron will become one of the brand’s big sellers.
Key rival:Volvo XC40 Recharge
Efficiency:Official range: 304 miles
On sale:Now

The Q4 e-tron is a big launch for Audi, with the premium brand expecting its new electric SUV to become its second-biggest-selling model, behind only the A3,  once it has a full year of sales under its belt in 2022.

The new model sits below the e-tron in the line-up, and launches as a full SUV, with a more coupe-style Sportback joining the range in September.

First Drive -July 2021-Audi Q4 E-tron - Image 6There are three powertrain options from launch, kicking off with the 170hp 35-branded car, which gets the smaller 52kWh battery that offers a range of up to 208 miles, depending on spec, while the mid-spec 40-badged model’s 204hp powertrain and 77kWh battery make for an official range figure of up to 316 miles on the entry Sport trim.

The most powerful Q4 e-tron gets four-wheel drive courtesy of an additional electric motor, giving it 299hp and an official range of up to 298 miles.

The Q4 e-tron is slightly smaller than Audi’s Q5 SUV, although Audi claims that the electric powertrain packaging allows for the interior space of a car from the class above. That’s a claim that is certainly justified, with rear passengers getting a huge amount of legroom in particular, although the boot looks smaller to the naked eye than the impressive official figure of 520 litres (the same as a Q5 can offers) suggests.

First Drive -July 2021-Audi Q4 E-tron - Image 5The cabin is predictably lovely, as is Audi’s forte, and the electric switchgear allows for a neat floating centre control area. There are also clever little bottle holders mounted higher in the doors, as well as the regular door bins. Front and centre is a new steering wheel – flat top and bottom – with touch buttons capable of touch and swipe movement to control the infotainment systems. It looks good despite the odd shape, but the quantity and sensitivity of the buttons can make for unintended presses.

The liberated interior space also gives the Q4 a feeling of being a larger car on the inside than it actually is, pulling off an impression of cabin spaciousness without feeling big to pilot through smaller gaps.

The 204hp powertrain doesn’t feel especially rapid, and a quick spin in the 50-branded top model in the range highlighted the significant difference another 95hp makes to the acceleration. But it’s got the immediacy at take-off that electric cars offer, it just doesn’t feel that punchy on the move. Still, the driving experience is comfortable, and on twistier roads the Q4 has a sense of feeling very planted and secure. It’s not a performance model, but it does the dynamic stuff well.

paul barker



The verdict

The Q4 e-tron does all the things it will need to in order to become one of Audi’s biggest sellers, especially with its impressive range figures.