Compact luxury, all-electric drive and zero emissions – the Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron mark the next wave in the brand’s electric offensive.

15 April, 2021

The newest additions to the brand’s growing electric range, the Audi Q4 e-tron models, have been unveiled to the world overnight, opening up a new chapter in the company’s history. Hot on the heels of the Audi e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT only weeks ago, the Q4 e-trons represent Audi’s first offering in the compact luxury segment, and another important model in the brand’s drive to introduce all-electric or plug-in electric models across the entire Audi range over the next few years.

In addition to its all-electric drive, the Q4 e-tron also introduces a raft of new technology, including  the augmented head-up display and steering wheel with touch surfaces revealed just weeks ago and a completely new generation in automotive lighting that allows the personalisation of the car’s lighting signature.

Aside form the choice between SUV and Sportback styling, the Q4 e-tron range will be offered in three different drive versions and two battery sizes of either 52kWh or 77kWh net. 

The offering will kick off with the Q4 35 e-tron which delivers 125kW of power and 310Nm of torque from its 52kWh battery for a 0 to 100km/h time of nine seconds and a range of around 340 kilometres. This model is driven by an electric motor driving the rear wheels and supports fast charging up to 100kW. 

Next is the Q4 40 e-tron which ups the power output to 150kW while torque remains the same at 310Nm. This shaves 0.5 seconds off the sprint time, but with its 77kWh battery increases range to the maximum for Q4 of 520 kilometres. Finally there is the top of the range Q4 50 e-tron quattro which ups power output to 220kW and torque to 460Nm for a 6.2 second sprint from standstill to 100km/h. This model also uses the larger 77kWh battery which power two motors (one on the front and rear axles) and delivers up to 488 kilometres of range and supports fast changing of up to 125kW.

Energy recuperation is of course an important feature across the range, with the Q4 e-trons with recuperating energy through braking and coasting as well energy saving using the navigation and topographical data to help modify driving.

Like the Audi e-tron models already available around the world, the Q4 e-tron models do not rely on overtly ‘space age’ design to differentiate them from the rest of the Audi range, but rather reinforce the fact that it is not necessary for electric vehicles to look radically different to conventional vehicles.

Having said that, the Q4 e-trons have a look and presence all their own. With the large battery housed in the floorpan, the centre of gravity is low and the wheels – 19 to 21-inch depending on the model – are positioned to create the maximum wheelbase possible, which results in tremendous interior space. 

The overhangs front and rear are the shortest ever employed on an Audi model and the drag coefficient of 0.28 for the SUV and 0.26 for the Sportback version aids vehicle range and adds to the visual presence of each vehicle. Indeed, the aerodynamics of the Q4 have been further enhanced through myriad little features to ensure the ‘slipperiest’ shape possible – from the panelled underbody with three-dimensional wheel spoilers to the specially developed edges on the side mirrors to optimise air flow and aeroacoustic.

The distinctive ‘solid’ Singleframe grille also marks these as coming from the electric range, its unique surface treatment possible given that it no longer fronts a radiator in the traditional sense. The grille is not solid though and features vents which are opened to provide cooling and airflow as required.

Once again Audi lighting plays an important role, forming part of the vehicle’s exterior design as well as providing state-of-the-art illumination. The very latest technology is available in the form of Matrix LED headlights with daytime running lights that offer four individually selectable signatures which is a world first. Then there is the tail lighting cluster which is also distinctive and features a continuous light strip right across the rear that accentuates the vehicle’s width.

Which brings us to the size of the Q4 e-tron which, although occupying the compact premium segment, offers the sort of space for occupants and luggage usually found in much larger vehicles. 

This is due in part to the aforementioned 2.76 metre wheelbase but is also thanks to the positioning of the battery in the floorpan and the absence of a transmission tunnel. This translates to extraordinary leg and headroom for even the tallest of passengers and luggage storage of 520 litres that can be expanded to 1490 litres with the rear seats folded last. With the swooping roofline of the Sportback version, this results in storage of 535 litres and 1460 litres and both models are able to tow up to 1000kg (the quattro version increasing that towing capacity to 1200kg).

The interior in general is clean and minimalistic, the large, ‘floating’ centre console and very clean, uncluttered design adding considerably to the feeling of space. But the absence of clutter does not mean an absence of creature comfort or technology as the Q4 is a technological tour de force.

From the option of upholstery and trim made from recycled materials, to the multifunction steering wheel with its touch surfaces which give the driver even greater control over vehicle functions, the Q4 e-tron is designed for maximum comfort and functionality while not forsaking design. The wheel can even be ordered with both the top and bottom flattened – another first.

The integrated touchscreens of the MMI system are bigger than before, with a range of different functions provided depending on the configuration level. Then there is the aforementioned augmented reality head-up display which takes the likes of navigation to a completely new level and opens the door for a world of new functions in the future.

Of course the Audi virtual cockpit is right at home in the Q4 e-tron and such an advanced vehicle would not be complete without the many services and functions offered by Audi connect, including the intelligent e-tron route planner for working out the optimal route that stays close to the public charging infrastructure. Then there is the entertainment component and for this, Audi has partnered with Sonos for its new premium sound offering with 580W amplifier and 3D surround sound.

Audis to their very core, the new Q4 e-tron models are at once familiar and yet completely new in the scope and technology they bring to the compact EV sector. Both models are produced at the Audi facility in Zwickau, and in keeping with the brand’s drive towards zero net emissions, the plant uses only eco-electricity. The battery cell suppliers too are required to use only green electricity in their production processes and any emissions that are unavoidable at present are offset by certified climate protection projects that meet the strict requirements of the Gold Standard Foundation. 

It’s another major step forward in the electrification of the brand and with the Shanghai International Motor Show just around the corner and the announcement of another exciting development, the future is arriving at a very rapid rate.

The Q4 e-tron will go sale on Europe from June this year with the vehicle’s introduction to Australia still being evaluated at time of writing.