We drove the Audi Q4 40 e-tron: stylish and dynamic…

Audi has ambitious plans for further electrification: in 2025, it will have not less than 20 pure EV’s in its model range. Besides the big Audi e-tron Quattro and its Sportback version and the stunning e-tron GT, another pure EV joins the party: the compact SUV Q4, which is also available right away in a stylish Sportback version.

The Q4 comes in two battery and power versions. The base model is the Q4 35 with a 55 kWh battery. Its range is said to be 350 kilometers and it has a 125 kW/170 HP motor driving the rear wheels. We tested for you the Q4 40 which has the 77 kWh battery and the 150 kW/204 HP motor we also find in the VW ID.4.

The Q4 is built… in the VW factory in Zwickau, where also the ID.3 and ID.4 are rolling off the production lines. Only logical if one knows that the Q4 runs on the same MEB platform as the two Volkswagens.

So the Q4 is a dressed up VW? Not at all, the Audi engineers and designers have succeeded in giving the Q4 its unmistakable premium character and Audi identity.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stylish

The bodywork of the Q4 breathes the timeless Audi styling language, with very good proportions throughout. The front end grille betrays its “pure” EV character, as it is closed. Indeed, electric motors need a lot less cooling.

The dashboard and cabin breathe Audi panache: the instrumentation is directed towards the driver here, rather untypical for a SUV. Bravo for Audi, and they did also very well with the instrument layout: two large dials are seen in front of you, on the digital display which is almost equally as large as the central touchscreen.

The ventilation commands are thankfully also on a separate panel with extra knobs, and also the audio volume knobs are of the rotating touch type as found on the early Apple I pods.

When you opt for the MMI package, you can also enjoy an augmented reality head up display. Our test car came with it and we liked it very much.

In the posh “S line” equipment level of our test car the seat upholstery with its typical cross stitched patters was very pleasing to the eye, and the seats are also very comfortable indeed.

While we are talking about the cabin, we can mention here that also the Q4 offers plenty of room, also for its rear passengers, taking advantage of the good qualities of the MEB platform. This SUV is certainly not compact here…

There is also plenty of room for storage in the interior, a good 24,8 liters. On the central console between the two front seats you have already 4,4 liters at your disposal.

Luggage space is more than adequate with 520 liters, with both rear backrests down you have a maximum of 1490 liters at your disposal, when you use the available space up to the roof.

The charging cables are neatly tucked away under the luggage floor. Only a bit cumbersome to reach them when the boot is fully loaded when on holiday. For the rest of the year it’s very fine.

Dynamic and smooth…

Let’s get behind the wheel now and start driving. As an EV befits, this Audi is again supersmooth. It is “Zen” driving all the way. EV’s are just a delight to drive in town, with their feline power delivery. 310 Nm of torque is at your disposal, always. It makes this Audi beautifully agile and nimble in dense traffic. Stop and go traffic is now for you an ideal moment to relax behind the wheel, and enjoy the beautiful sound coming from the Sonos system we had in our test car.

Performance is of course excellent, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 8,5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 160 km/h, as in the ID.4.

German Autobahn aficionados would like this to be more, but then we would not speak of a useable range anymore.

When it comes to range, your driving style is here of paramount importance. You see it clearly on the photo showing the instrumentation: when collecting our test car, we drove it gently to the motorway, where we drove a constant 95 km/h, just a bit faster than the trucks, to reach our photo spot. Consumption was then a very reasonable 15,2 kWh/100 km, over 19,6 km at an average speed of 42 km/h.

A cold start in the morning, with heater full ablaze and just some slow stop and go traffic paints another picture. There the consumption over 5,4 km was a whopping 43,6 kWh. The following photo tells the story.

When we take the WLTP consumption as the norm, being 19,3 kWh, then the effective range would be 530 km. In practice, you can expect a useable range of a good 400 km.

There are different driving modes on the Audi, one of them being the “Range” mode. It limits power and sets a maximum speed of 90 km/h.

Charging at the home wallbox is possible up to 11 kWh, and on public charging points you can “fast charge” your Audi at not less than 125 kWh. Then it takes only 10 minutes to add an extra of 130 km to your range.

Practice in our country is of course rather different to say the least. 98 % of our existing condominium and apartment buildings have NO wallbox provisions in their underground garages, not even electricity sockets in many cases, limiting possibilities of enjoying EV propulsion greatly.

My nearest public charging point is about 1 kilometre away, and this is not a “fast” charging point. Allowed time for charging is also limited to 3,5 hours. Belgian municipalities – at least those near Antwerp – have still to wake up to reality that the charging points have TWO sockets and can actually charge two cars simultaneously. The square they paint on the pavement actually is clearly meant for ONE car. Users of the charging point are so kind and gentlemen-like to ignore this, so your servant could charge the Q4 too, as the following photo shows, which leaves one certainly perplex…

Driving the Q4 to Knokke, we found no unoccupied charging points within a reasonable walking distance from the place we stayed, so the next day we used the “Range” Driving mode to get us home again. It was a magnificent and leisurely drive…

Car manufacturers are certainly not to blame here. Their products increasingly offer useable ranges, and we could easily plan a longer route on the Audi, where the touchscreen clearly indicated which charging points en route we could use, how long we had to charge, which were open, etc.

Of course, providers are working hard to change the situation. At the moment of writing, IONITY is invetsing 700 million € for 5.000 extra HPC charging points in Europe.  

Comfortable and agile

Besides room of its occupants, the Audi Q4 also offers a genuinely comfortable ride and steering is also precise and engaging. Audi’s are build to deliver driving pleasure, and this is also found in this Q4. A well balanced car, certainly making the very best of what the MEB platform has to offer. The same goes for the brakes, which can be well dosed to come to a smooth stop.

We also mention here the “coasting function”. When one hasn’t chosen the “B” mode, the Audi will just coast along when you lift the throttle, and this adds greatly to the “Zen” driving pleasure, once you have mastered the art of anticipative driving.

Of course you can recuperate energy when decelerating, or you can leave everything to the wisdom of this Q4. Indeed, you can put the Predictive Energy Assistant at work, which will interpret road signs and navigation data. Then the system will calculate for you continuously the right balance between sailing and energy recuperation, no less!

Conclusion

Audi has succeeded in designing and building a magnificent compact EV on the MEB platform. A car with impeccable finish, oozing with style, panache, good comfort and handling, very good range and performance, and on top of all that roomy too.

Of course this has a price tag, but it is a timelessly styled premium car, one of the very best which ever rolled of VW production lines.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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