The name "Q4" suggests that the new model belongs between the Q3 and A5 in Audi's rankings. But it is not that simple! In fact, Audi promises that the Q4 has the agility of the Q3, the boot space of the Q5 and the legroom of the Q7. This is thanks to the fact that the Q4 is not an electric-powered version of an existing model, but has been designed from the ground up as an electric car.
Yet the Q4 does not show that this is an electric car. The Q4 has the same look as the other Q models with a high raised nose, a high shoulder line, a confident look in the headlights and, of course, the sleek lines that are characteristic of Audi. Unique to the Q4 is its closed grille. An electric car does not produce unwanted heat, so no provisions are needed to dissipate that by-product either. Closing the grille improves the streamline, which benefits range and quietness in the cabin.
To check whether Audi's claims about the Q4's space can be lived up to, getting in is enough. Space in the front is excellent. With adults in the front, there is still more than enough head and legroom left in the rear for another two (hefty!) adults. Audi's claim about luggage space is also fulfilled. It is large and deep, so that, for example, a golf bag with driver(s) fits effortlessly.
Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group and therefore also uses the same basic components as the parent company's models. Technically, the Audi Q4 is largely the same as the Volkswagen ID.4. The big difference is in the dressing. While the ID.4 gets its appeal from innovation, Audi takes a very different approach. Audi packs that same technology as nicely as possible and wants to lower the barrier to electric driving by keeping the controls familiar. Despite using a lot of recycled materials, the ambience in the Q4 is as usual from Audi: sleek, immaculate and modern.
The Q4 can be equipped with all the usual infotainment and safety features. A few things stand out here. At the time of writing, Audi does not yet offer a smart voice-activated assistant. Voice control is available, but this involves fixed commands that must be spoken in a fixed order. The Q4 is the first car that is (to be) equipped with an audio system from Sonos. Best known as a "streaming audio" specialist (music from the Internet instead of traditional carriers), this brand excels at a favourable price/performance ratio both at home and in the Audi. Don't expect too much of sound quality, but do expect a very mature sound at a fair price.
Although all functions are familiar to operate, Audi has allowed itself a leap into the future on one point. Thanks to an extra-large head-up display, information for the driver can be shown in his/her field of vision. According to Audi, the software sourced from Volkswagen has been completely rewritten for this purpose, but in practice there is little evidence of this in both functionality and design. The extra-large head-up display shows not only the usual speed, but also life-size arrows that seem to float in the landscape to indicate which turn to take. When using adaptive cruise control, a green line is displayed below the car whose speed is being adopted.
The Audi Q4 is available in three versions: as a "35 e-tron", "40 e-tron" and "50 e-tron". The difference between these versions is in engine power, battery capacity and rear- or all-wheel drive. The test car is a "Q4 40 e-tron" and that represents 204 hp / 310 Nm of power, a 77 kWh battery and rear-wheel drive.
Audi aims to lower the barrier to electric driving with familiar looks and handling, but does the same with the engine character. Like any other electric car, the Q4 moves silently and effortlessly, offering more agility than even the best combustion engine. The performance of the "40 e-tron" is fine, and if needed, the Q4 will outpace many. However, it lacks the venom with which some electric cars perform. Those cars release all the power at once like lightning. The Q4's electric motor builds up the power gently to protect the driver from himself.
Levers behind the steering wheel can be used to determine how much energy is recovered when releasing the accelerator. The more the car decellerates, the more energy is recovered. Audi claims that in the most extreme mode, the Q4 decellerates so much that the brake pedal becomes superfluous. Then it would be possible to drive with just one pedal. In real life, however, the Q4 does not decellerate as strongly as other cars, so driving with just one pedal requires so much anitcipation that it is almost impossible in heavy traffic.
Range and charging
In theory, the "40 e-tron" can travel 511 km on a full battery. That was measured in economic mode and according to the WLTP standard. During the test, both economic mode and dynamic mode were driven. The difference between the two is significant, both in the response to the accelerator and in the working of the climate control system. Under very favourable weather conditions (25 degrees, windless), 454 km could be covered on a full battery (consumption: 17 kWh / 100 km).
Charging can be done at home, at a public charging point (11 kW) and at a fast charger (125 kW). The charging port is in the most practical and safest place: at the back on the right. This allows safe parking and parking and minimises the risk of damage to the charging socket by passing traffic. During charging, the display behind the steering wheel shows how long charging will take. The central display can be used to set the percentage to which the battery should be charged. This makes sense, as not always charging the battery to 100% can extend its service life.
Audi promises not only lots of space, but also agility. This is achieved by opting for rear-wheel drive. Because there are fewer mechanics between the front wheels, they can steer extra far, which makes for a smaller turning circle. However, "manoeuvrability" is more than just a turning circle on paper. This is why the Q4 is on a chassis with adjustable dampers as standard. Depending on the situation, this allows for more comfort or more sportiness.
Even in dynamic mode, the Q4 is not a distinctly sharp or sporty car. However, that is not to say that the Q4 is not capable! Thanks in part to its adjustable dampers, the Q4 manages to disguise its high weight well (much better than the larger "e-tron"). At the same time, it is noticeable that the Q4 is perfectly balanced. Therefore, despite its light steering and high level of comfort, the driver does feel that the car is capable of a lot and that gives a great sense of confidence from the very first moment.
Audi introduces the Q4: an electric-powered SUV that promises some big things. Despite the large battery, the Q4 is said to be dynamic. And despite its limited exterior dimensions, the Q4 is said to offer even more space than larger models from Audi. A test shows that all these promises are fulfilled. The Audi Q4 is spacious, dynamic and can travel a long distance without stopping to recharge.
Electric driving offers many advantages: low energy costs, low depreciation, low maintenance costs, zero emissions, high comfort and tax benefits. Given all the advantages that electric driving brings and the small additional price that comes with it, with the arrival of the Q4, there is no reason to still choose an Audi with an internal combustion engine. The Q4 is the Q of today!
- Excellent handling
- Quiet and comfortable
- Convinces with premium quality
- Meagre standard equipment
- Promised 1-pedal driving barely possible
- Adaptive cruise control makes too many mistakes