Having invested heavily in the electrified foundations beneath its own ID models VW is now sharing the tech, the Q4 e-tron among those benefitting and now spawning this Sportback version combining imposing SUV stance with a sleek coupe roofline. It joins VW’s own ID.4 spin-off the ID.5 and the Skoda Enyaq Coupe. Given Audi’s more premium status the Q4 competes with the likes of the Polestar 2, Volvo C40, Tesla Model Y and Jaguar I-Pace, even if the Sportback can’t currently match any of them for power or performance. It’s more expensive and a tad less practical than the standard Q4 e-tron as well, and for these reasons this would remain our pick of the two.
“Our e-tron 50 Quattro test car had a hefty bottom-line price of nearly £65,000”
The Q4 e-tron Sportback slips into the Audi range beneath the much more expensive e-tron Sportback and, given it’s the fresher product of the two (and most people won’t realise its relatively ‘junior’ status) looks like an attractive deal. It is, however, much more expensive than the VW and Skoda alternatives that are fundamentally the same underneath and our e-tron 50 Quattro test car had a hefty bottom-line price of nearly £65,000. That figure will remain an abstract if, like most people, you finance the car through monthly payments of one sort or another but reveals just how much of a premium you’re paying for the Audi badge, the Sportback also more expensive than the regular Q4 e-tron like-for-like.
Things look much more attractive on day-to-day running costs, though, especially if you have facility to install a home charger and benefit from cheap off-peak electricity tariffs. Zero VED/road tax will appeal to private owners while salary sacrifice schemes and Benefit In Kind incentives make electric cars very attractive for company drivers as well.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Audi Q4 e-tron
“We did experience a few wobbles with the CarPlay connection and the paddle-operated regenerative braking came and went”
Where VW, Skoda and Cupra put nearly all your interactions with the car at the mercy of the central touch-screen and can be vulnerable to glitches Audi has at least kept physical buttons for heating and ventilation. We did experience a few wobbles with the CarPlay connection (plugged in and wireless) in our time with the car and the paddle-operated regenerative braking came and went a few times. Seemingly minor niggles but not what you'd expect of an Audi and, in this context, the three-year warranty doesn’t look as generous as the five years offered by Hyundai or the seven of the Kia, both of whom are making strides with their own impressive electric options at this level.
Expert rating: 2/5
Safety for a Audi Q4 e-tron
“We’d recommend the reversing camera included in the optional Comfort and Sound pack if it’s not included in your chosen trim level”
The Q4 e-tron is a high-tech car and comes with all the safety systems you’d expect as standard, including lane departure warning and Audi ‘Pre-sense’ that shouts a warning and then applies the brakes if it thinks you haven’t reacted to a pedestrian, cyclist or other hazard in your path. Unfortunately it’s a bit over-sensitive and you quickly zone out to the constant squawks, which is somewhat counter-productive. All Sportbacks get rear parking sensors but, given the abysmal rear visibility, we’d recommend the reversing camera included in the optional Comfort and Sound pack if it’s not already part of your chosen trim level.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Audi Q4 e-tron
“The angular, futuristic looking interior is very Audi in its style but not an especially soothing environment”
For the driver and front-seat passenger it’s the same as the standard Q4 e-tron, which means a huge range of adjustment in the driving position, supportive seats and a central screen angled towards the driver for easy access to navigation, infotainment and other features. We’re weren’t huge fans of the hard-edged, angular cabin design – the Enyaq feels more relaxing while a Volvo C40 does it with more style – and for all the raised ride height the visibility at junctions and in car parks is pretty atrocious, doing little for the stress levels no matter how many bleepers and cameras you have. If the sloping roofline affects the practicality in the back it’s not enough to be a deal-breaker, though taller rear passengers may feel a little more hemmed in than they would in the regular Q4 e-tron. Saying that, unless you regularly carry big, boxy items, there doesn’t feel like a huge penalty in practicality for choosing the Sportback.
With the choice of three wheel sizes and option of Comfort, Sport or adjustable active suspension dependent on which trim you go for there are some differences in how plush your Sportback will feel on the road. Our test car had the optional 21-inch wheels and Sport suspension standard from S Line up, neither of which do the ride comfort any favours. This is one of many areas where you feel the Sportback puts style before substance, alternatives like the Kia EV6 and Jaguar I-Pace both much more comfortable on the road while being just as snazzy to look at.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Audi Q4 e-tron
“A dip into the options list can help make things feel more premium with more expensive upholstery, trim and additional features”
Audi fans love their tech and the Q4 e-tron Sportback delivers here, with the combination of a configurable instrument binnacle behind the wheel and a central touch-screen through which you can control the built-in navigation, infotainment and other features. Like all such systems it requires a little learning and some common functions, like being able to dim or switch the screen and interior lighting for driving at night, are harder to find than they should be but it looks good and the connected services include guiding you to charging points if you need a top-up to complete your plotted route. The hard plastics feel a grade down from those in more ‘senior’ models like the bigger e-tron Sportback but a dip into the options list can help make things feel more premium with more expensive upholstery (including on-message recycled fabrics), fancier trim and additional features like a head-up display with neat ‘augmented reality’ navigation projecting guidance directly into your line of sight on the windscreen.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Audi Q4 e-tron
“It felt usefully quicker than the two-wheel drive 40 e-tron we drove previously”
We tried the more powerful 50 e-tron Quattro, which has motors on each axle for effective all-wheel drive and a combined total of 299 horsepower. It felt usefully quicker than the two-wheel drive 40 e-tron we drove previously and can compete on equal terms with cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and the GTX and vRS versions of its ID.5 and Enyaq Coupe relatives. But there’s no hiding the fact even the Quattro looks a little outclassed in power stats against the 400 horsepower (or more) available in rivals like the Volvo C40 or Jaguar I-Pace. Whether that actually matters is open to question but for some people bragging rights remain an important consideration.
The promised range on all models looks reasonable, though only the e-tron 40 has more than 300 miles and the reality in the winter weather we were driving in meant you’d be pushing your luck trying for 200 miles without a quick charging top-up en route. For those covering longer distances all year round the optional heat pump takes some of the strain off the battery and means you can maximise your range without shivering with the AC turned off to try and eke out those miles. Automatic regeneration also helps maximise range by recovering energy when slowing down, some models getting the option of manually selectable regen via steering wheel paddles. It doesn’t quite permit the relaxing ‘one-pedal’ driving style some EVs offer and, annoyingly, resets every time you get back on the throttle in all but Dynamic mode. Even then it sometimes dropped out for some unexplained reason.