Rating: 8/10 | Price: from £40,750
Comfortable; fast charging; AR navigation system
Sonos speaker system; still charging people for USB sockets? Oh, come on
Some car launches are more important than others. You might understandably think these would be the fancy flagships, the bells-and-whistles models at the pricier end of the manufacturer’s menu. But more often this is not the case. The Evoque, Range Rover’s “budget” SUV, was widely credited for saving the company’s fortunes at the time. The MINI Electric was crucial for BMW as it succeeded the i3 as the brand’s entry-level EV. Indeed, the 3 Series is much more important for BMW than its flagship 7 Series as it sells 20 times more of this model in Europe alone.
With it’s new Q4 e-tron, Audi has such a launch on its hands right now. Despite this being a full-electric mini SUV, Andrew Doyle, director of Audi UK, says that the company forecasts this will be its second most popular car by sales volume in the UK after the A3. Not second most popular EV, second most popular car of any stripe – be it EV, ICE or hybrid.
This means that to Audi, financially at least, the Q4 e-tron is way more important than its star e-tron GT electric flagship. It will be a key weapon in changing customer attitudes on electric cars, proof that we are moving on from our love affair with internal combustion and that EVs can be for the masses, not just the early adopters. So it had better be good.
Size-wise, this sits between the Q3 and Q5 and comes in two designs: a Sportback version with a sloping roof at the rear, and a hatchback. Why you would want to reduced interior space of the Sportback version is beyond me, but some will think it looks ‘sportier’ even if it isn’t.
As for the electrics, essentially the Q4 e-tron is an Audi-pimped version of the VW ID.4. It has the same MEB electric platform, as does the Skoda Enyaq, and is built on the same production line, too. There are three models, the 35, 40 and 50. The 35 sports a 52kWh battery, 208-mile WLTP range and a 168bhp motor. The 40 e-tron gets a 77kWh battery, 316-mile range and a 201bhp motor. The 50 e-tron is given the “quattro” treatment as it has the same battery as the 40 but a front motor thrown in for four-wheel drive. Yes, this means the power bumps up to 295bhp but the range drops to 298 miles.
Charging is up to 100kW DC for the 35, and up to 125kW with the 77kWh versions. The higher spec means just 38 minutes from 5 to 80 per cent, or an extra 80 miles’ range in ten minutes.