The Q4 bit in the name suggests it sits between the Q3 and Q5 in Audi’s SUV range, but while those two models are powered by petrol and diesel engines, the Q4 (and the forthcoming coupe-SUV Q4 e-tron Sportback) is pure-electric.
It’s a small-to-medium-sized SUV and is the car Audi is pinning its hopes on finally becoming a mass-market electric car maker. Underneath the camouflaged bodywork of our test car lies the same basic ingredients as the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Skoda Enyaq SUVs, while inside there’s a good blend of tradition and modernity.
There are physical controls for the air conditioning and a digital cockpit for example, but Audi has also fitted a new head-up display with augmented reality to give the driver more information about the road ahead. But the big surprise is the amount of room inside, with the Q4 trumping the BMW iX3 and Mercedes EQA.
Front-seat occupants have similar levels of space to an Audi Q5, while those in the back get more legroom than they would in an Audi Q7 SUV. Audi has also been inspired by Skoda and given the Q4 some ‘simply clever’ ideas as there’s no centre tunnel but a large, practical shelf that can hold things like iPads, for instance, and the door bins can carry 1.5-litre water bottles.
Boot space stands at an impressive 520-1,490 litres but there’s no storage under the bonnet, however.
Audi hasn’t confirmed exactly which Q4s it’ll be offering in the UK, but we can expect rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models with power ranging from 168 horsepower up to 300 horsepower, and at least two battery packs with 52 or 77 kWh meaning 310 miles on a full charge could be possible.
They should also be able to charge up to 125kW meaning a zero-to-80% recharge will take 30 minutes or 87 miles in 10 minutes.
Audi allowed us to have a poke around the new Q4 e-tron and drive a still-camouflaged prototype before the car arrives in the UK in the summer, giving us some time to work out whether the Q4 could become the mass-market electric car Audi so wants it to be.
Our test car was the predicted 225kW all-wheel drive top model, and with its 125kW motor on the rear axle and 75kW motor powering the front wheels it’s very brisk – in fact, it almost leaves an Audi RS3 hot hatchback for dead.
The Q4 sprints from 0-62mph in just over six seconds and tops out at 111mph – which is faster than most of its electric SUV rivals – and even though the conditions were cold when we tested it, we managed to get around 217 miles from a full battery.
Like all electric cars, the Q4 is whisper-quiet and, unlike the GT, there is no synthetic sound pumped into the car – there’s just silence. Aside from this the Q4 drives like any other Audi – it’s comfortable and drives predictably and precisely. The progressive-feeling steering gives a bit of fun in the corners, and the adaptive dampers do a great job at hiding this car’s rather heavy weight.
With no petrol engine up front, Audi has been able to give the Q4 a really tight turning circle too, which’ll make it a boon in tight car parking spaces – something you can’t say from the petrol-engined-derived rivals like the BMW iX3 and Mercedes EQA. There’s also a natural feeling to the way this car drives down the road which marks it out from the Nissan Leaf or a DS 3 Crossback, for instance.
It’s so natural Audi has decided not to give the Q4 ‘one-pedal’ driving. While cars like the Leaf or BMW i3 can be brought to a stop by lifting your foot off the throttle, Audi has elected not to put this function on the Q4 – take your foot off the accelerator and the Q4 just carries on down the road.
And even if you switch the car from ‘D’ to ‘B’ mode and pull on the steering wheel-mounted paddles to increase the regenerative braking, the Q4 just coasts along. If Audi’s aim was to give a driving experience that’s as familiar as possible for those switching from a petrol to an electric car, it’s achieved it.
It’s on this familiarity point the Q4 e-tron could be the sales winner Audi wants it to be, as it’s as well thought out and packaged as a Volkswagen ID.4, but has the appeal of any other modern, petrol-engined Audi.