- Dynamic styling with performance to match
- Competitively priced and good EV range
- High-end interior with plenty of tech and space
- Keep an eye on those options – the price will creep up
- Range drops quickly when cruising at 70mph
- Visibility through split rear screen is poor
Take an Audi Q4, throw some coupe styling its way and fully electrify it and the result is the rather striking Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron – a five door EV with plenty of attitude.
With a choice of trim levels and battery sizes that vary the driving range, the vehicle is competitively priced and is viewed as a vitally important car for the German marque.
The car is available in trim levels called Sport, S line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung and with 300-plus miles of driving between charges, range anxiety should never be an issue.
On The Road
Getting accustomed to new model naming structures can be a confusing business and Audi’s Q4 Sportback e-tron has a 35 model with 170PS, a 40 with 204PS – these versions have a single motor and rear-wheel drive. Then there is the 50 with 299PS featuring quattro drive via two motors. The 35 has a smaller 52kWh battery while the 40 and 50 have a larger 77kWh battery. It really is that simple!
We opted for the Q4 Sportback e-tron 40 204PS and it was supplied in a special Launch Edition that was limited to extremely low numbers when the car was first launched.
With the electric motor generating 204PS and 310Nm of torque, the car can power its way from 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds and tops out at 99mph.
There is a single-speed automatic transmission and although there are steering wheel paddles, these are used to control the three levels of regenerative braking to recoup more energy on the fly.
The eerie silence as the car starts up and pulls away takes a little getting used to, but the power at your disposal is instant with rapid acceleration out of the blocks. And it is relentless with ample zip for overtaking along with drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual to alter the car’s reactions.
The Q4 Sportback e-tron is perfectly balanced as it fires through the twisting B roads and that, in part, is due to the clever positioning of the high-voltage batteries between the axles beneath the passenger compartment. This results in a low centre of gravity which is always beneficial to a car’s performance, ride and handling.
The road-holding in the rear-wheel drive model is ultra grippy with no sign of body sway into bends. The vehicle is also very happy to cruise at 70mph on faster dual carriageways or motorways.
The steering is precise and beautifully weighted with plenty of driver feedback and, with a decent turning lock, busier town centre driving is easily accomplished too.
The test car was riding on 20-inch alloy wheels which were the perfect match – the Sport version sits on 19-inch wheels with the Vorsprung gaining 21-inch wheels.
The uneven road surfaces are smoothed out by the efficient suspension set-up that includes a MacPherson strut layout at the front and a compact multi-link system at the rear and, with excellent insulation, the cabin is nicely refined with occupants well protected from any road surface or wind noise. It’s difficult not to listen hard for any sounds as there is obviously no engine noise, but Audi has that covered by fitting an outstanding audio system across the range.
The Q4 Sportback e-tron has a striking design that’s guaranteed to draw attention from onlookers. Like its sibling, the Q4 e-tron, it boasts short overhangs, with muscular lines and sweeping light clusters. But the Sportback gains a low coupe-style roofline that leads to the rear spoiler that is positioned deep on the two-part window.
The spoiler and rear window design are not just cosmetic as it enhances the driving range by about seven miles compared to the Q4 e-tron while also reducing the lift on the rear.
The Audi rings emblem sits proudly on the front grille and Matrix LED headlights offer outstanding illumination at night without dazzling other drivers. There is a full LED light strip stretching across the rear of the car too.
Moving inside, the main focal point is the instrument panel which is oriented towards the driver and this features two main displays. The 10.1-inch central MMI touch monitor and the 10.25-inch Audi virtual cockpit behind the steering wheel which can be personalised according to taste.
The interior is premium through and through with high quality upholstery, soft touch surfaces and smart decorative inlays throughout.
The high-end leather sports seats can be heated to fend off the winter chill and are exceptionally comfortable as you explore the wealth of technology at your disposal.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Getting the perfect driving position inside the Q4 Sportback e-tron takes a matter of seconds with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment. The driver has excellent visibility forwards and sideways, but the split-rear screen is not so easy to see through.
All the creature comforts that we demand in today’s cars are present with full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a navigation system, ambient lighting, a pitch perfect Sonos premium sound system, climate control and a DAB digital radio.
The new-look steering wheel on the car has a flat top and bottom with touch sensitive controls to access many on-board features. These take a little getting used to but are very easy to operate on the move after a little practice.
This latest EV from Audi is certainly comfortable to drive. It’s almost like the seats have been personally made to measure for comfort and you will always arrive relaxed at the end of any journey – no matter how long.
Space & Practicality
The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron stretches almost 4.6 metres in length, is 2.1 metres wide including the mirrors and is 1.6 metres high, so it has to be said it is quite a large vehicle.
The wheelbase is 2.76 metres and that results in plenty of cabin room with rear seat occupants benefiting from oodles of legroom. There is no central tunnel so a trio of passengers can easily fit in the back and with large windows and a high roofline, it’s a fairly comfortable place to be.
The storage space inside the Sportback is more impressive than the Q4 e-tron with limits ranging from 535 to 1,460 litres with the rear seat dropped (this compares to 520 to 1,490 in the Q4 e-tron model).
In addition, there is about 25 litres of storage throughout the cabin, including bottle holders integrated into the upper section of the doors, a fairly compact central cubby box, lockable glovebox, seat back nets, front and rear cup holders and a handy tray beneath the centre console.
The wide opening rear doors offer easy access if fitting a child seat and, with the slightly elevated seating, it is ideal for anyone struggling with mobility issues.
Quick and easy charging is another strength of the Q4 Sportback e-tron with the 77kWh battery on our test car boosted from five to 80 per cent in as little as 38 minutes on a fast charger.
The range between charges depends on the model selected and its battery size. Sport models can cover 323 miles, S line 318 miles, Edition 1 (similar to our test car) 315 miles and Vorsprung 303 miles.
With zero carbon emissions, owning an electric vehicle has many financial benefits. For example, it will be exempt from any Congestion Charge fees and can travel freely through the increasing number of low emission zones.
The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is free from road tax for the first year too. Business owners also reap the rewards as the car sits in the best Benefit in Kind category of just one per cent.
The line-up for the Sportback is slightly more expensive than the Q4 e-tron with prices ranging from £42,250 to £66,750. Our test model was priced at £49,870 but a few optional extras saw the cost creep up to £51,160.
And there are more costs to consider as the Government has a tax on cars costing more than £40k with owners having to pay an additional levy of £335 for five years.
The insurance rating for the Audi Sportback Q4 e-tron 40 204PS 150kW Launch Edition is group 32.
Quality & Reliability
The build quality within the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is first class with high-end upholstery and materials throughout. With the all-electric technology being relatively new, it is difficult to predict with any real certainty how reliable it will be, but Audi does have every confidence in the product and that is reflected in the warranty.
Customers have peace of mind thanks to an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the Q4 e-tron’s battery along with the more standard three-year, 60,000-mile cover for the rest of the car.
The instrumentation looks robust and should survive the test of time, as should the very premium leather seating.
Safety & Security
Audi’s reputation for developing safe and secure cars throughout the decades has been the envy of many rival manufacturers.
The Q4 e-tron was recently awarded the maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP rating and the comprehensive list of safety kit is also present in the Sportback version.
The car scored 93 per cent for adult protection, 89 per cent for child occupancy and 80 per cent for safety assist.
The car boasts lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition and cruise control as standard. Then as you move up through the range, additional safety features are introduced.
There is a new centre airbag that protects both front occupants in the event of a side impact. And the car features integrated head restraints.
Driver assist systems include Audi pre-sense front with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning and swerve and turn assist.
Additional optional systems are divided into packages. For example, the Safety Package Plus introduces Audi Side Assist blind spot monitoring and the rear cross traffic assist reversing aid. And the Assistance Package Pro adds adaptive cruise assist, which assists the driver with guidance over the entire speed range, and a four-camera system providing 360° visibility.
To keep uninvited attention at bay, the vehicle has an anti-theft alarm.
Rapid charging and driving ranges in excess of 300 miles make this coupe-styled SUV one to watch. It looks amazing, drives beautifully and has bundles of on-board tech as standard. It is even practical for family weekends in the country with space for lots of people and lots of kit.