Sustainable premium mobility takes another significant step towards becoming the rule rather than the exception this week as the all-new Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron cascade the benefits of full electrification into the Audi compact SUV family for the first time.
Conveying the progressive design of the concept cars into series production with minimal alteration, the versatile all-rounders will be offered in the UK in conjunction with Sport, S line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung trim options, and with a choice of two battery variants and three drive configurations capable of WLTP-certified driving ranges of up to 316 miles (Q4 40 e-tron Sport). They will also provide unusually ample space in which to go the distance in a fully digital cabin that visually and technologically reflects the Q4 e-tron’s position at the forefront of automotive development. Its forward-looking specification incorporates fittingly ingenious technology, including a pioneering augmented reality head-up display connecting the virtual and real worlds in a totally new way.
With the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron, Audi is introducing the next step in its design language for electric models. Like the 2019 concept cars that they so closely resemble, the new compact SUVs boast striking proportions accentuated by their short front overhangs and large wheels emphasised by muscular blisters, and by a surface treatment that is clear and pared back but also intersected by super-precise, high definition lines. In the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, the especially low coupé-style roofline ends in an expressively designed rear where the spoiler sits deep on the two-part window.
As is customary for Audi the progressive design gives appropriate priority to functionality and aerodynamics: The Q4 e-tron achieves a drag coefficient of 0.28, and the Sportback gets to an even lower figure, with a drag coefficient of 0.26. A key contributor to these impressive figures is the main section of the bodies, with their glasshouses drawn in sharply towards the rear. The adjustable cooling air inlet in front of the radiator and compressor is another important factor. Supplied by the central lower air inlet, its electric louvre is opened if the major assemblies require cool air, such as when the vehicle is charging, but remains closed in the majority of situations to minimise energy losses caused by air flow through the narrow cooling ducts, adding around four miles to the overall driving range. Three-dimensional spoilers in front of the front wheels also optimise the airflow, adding almost nine miles to the range, and a partial covering for the control arms of the rear axle gives another boost of just over two miles.
Detailed solutions, on which the Audi aerodynamics experts have worked closely with the designers, provide further gains in range. At the front, the narrow vertical bars below the headlights channel the airstream smoothly along the vehicle’s side, resulting in a three-mile range uplift, and a minute step on the exterior mirror housings known as the turbulator edge allows the airflow to swirl in a targeted way, which is good for another mile. The 19-inch Aero wheels with their flat designs also facilitate low-loss air flow, notching up an additional three miles, and even the tailgate seal plays its part. Designed to handle the pressure conditions generated by the roof edge spoiler, it adds just over two more miles to the range.
On the Q4 Sportback e-tron, the spoiler sits much lower on the split and steeply raked rear window, and as the area in which the air swirls as it comes off the vehicle is restricted to the zone beneath the spoiler that area is significantly smaller than in the Q4 e-tron. This not only highlights the unique design of the SUV coupé, but also enhances its range by around 7 miles while also reducing the lift on the rear.
A choice of eight paint finishes can be specified for the new Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron, including the new metallic shade aurora violet which has until now been reserved for Audi Sport models. In Sport versions 19-inch Graphite grey alloy wheels with a special ‘aero’ design that contributes to overall efficiency amply fill the wheel arches, which along with the lower section of the bumper and the diffusor are painted in contrasting metallic Manhattan grey. A gloss package also accentuates the side windows, which are privacy tinted at the rear in S line models and above.
In common with all members of the Audi family S line models also stand out through their exclusive front and rear styling treatment, which here includes additional chrome elements that lend the octagonal Audi Singleframe synonymous with Q models its own distinctive look. Larger 20-inch alloy wheels also work in favour of road presence in S line and Edition 1 models, the latter gaining even more through a full-body paint finish in a choice of four colours and a black styling package that adds dark accents throughout. The black styling package is also a feature of the top-tier Vorsprung models with their even more striking 21-inch wheels.
On the strength of their versatility, the Audi Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron will integrate seamlessly into everyday life. Within their 4.59-metre footprint they offer a level of space which exceeds existing class standards and is in fact more closely comparable with the full-size SUV class. The spacious feel isn’t confined to the front seats – passengers in the rear also benefit from generous legroom thanks in part to the bespoke architecture of the modular electric drive system (MEB) on which the compact electric SUVs are based, which ensures that a centre tunnel is no longer required. Storage space also abounds, with around 25 litres of capacity available throughout the cabin, including particularly useful bottle holders integrated in the upper section of the doors that can hold bottles of up to one litre in size safely and within easy reach.
The luggage compartment accessible via the powered tailgate which is standard for all variants also offers more space than is generally found in the compact class, and actually bears closer comparison with a midsize SUV: Depending on the positioning of the rear seat backs, the volume of the luggage compartment is 520 to 1,490 litres in the Q4 e-tron and 535 to 1,460 litres in the Sportback.
The compact layout of the drive units, even in the quattro models, has conferred another usability advantage on the new electric SUVs. It has allowed the developers to move their longitudinal suspension cross-members further towards their centre points, creating space for large wheel arches which in turn enable the wheels to turn more freely. In the variants with rear-wheel drive, the turning circle of the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron measures just 10.2 metres. With their ground clearance of approximately 18 centimetres, both models also perform well on rougher terrain.
Quick and easy charging is another strength that ensures daily use of the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron is as undemanding as possible. Depending on version, they feature a 52 kWh or 77 kWh battery which can be charged at HPC (high-power charging) stations at a charging capacity of up to 100 or up to 125 kW respectively. At 125 kW, and in ideal conditions, the battery can achieve an 80 percent state of charge from a 5 percent starting point in 38 minutes. WLTP testing has confirmed that the Q4 40 e-tron**, which uses the larger battery, can recharge enough electricity – again in ideal conditions – to cover a distance of about 80 miles (WLTP) in around ten minutes, and can achieve a range of up to 316 miles.
Using the myAudi app, owners can activate charging remotely using a smartphone. The app also provides access to the comfort remote preconditioning system, which enables remote adjustment of the cabin temperature and seat heating functions to ensure that the cabin climate is always comfortable well before a journey begins.
At the entry-level, the Q4 35 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback 35 e-tron use the compact battery with its net energy content of 52 kWh (55 kWh gross*), and combine this with an electric motor offering an output of 125 kW (170 PS) and torque of 310 Nm. In both body variants, this is sufficient for 9.0-second 0-62mph acceleration, a governed 99mph top speed and a WLTP-certified range of up to 208 miles on a full charge in the SUV (Sportback range data to be confirmed).
The interiors of the Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron are characterised by a real sense of space and are centred around the striking instrument panel. This is oriented towards the driver and divided into separate areas integrating two displays - the central MMI touch monitor, with acoustic feedback and natural language voice control, and the Audi virtual cockpit. Both of these feature as standard throughout the UK range. An upgraded Audi virtual cockpit plus is installed in Vorsprung versions, and available for all others as part of the optional Technology Pack. It adds an “e-tron” layout to the standard system’s selectable “classic” and “sport” screen formats in which the power meter is brought to the fore. A larger 11.6-inch version of the MMI touch screen notable as the largest display in the Audi portfolio to date will also become available later this year.
As usual in the Audi range, infotainment and navigation are operated primarily using the central MMI touch display. This system also grants access to the apps available via the standard Audi smartphone interface, now offering wireless connection for some handsets. In the UK MMI Navigation Plus and Audi connect internet connectivity feature as standard across the board, as does the e-tron route planner, which works with them to calculate the optimal route that tracks the public charging infrastructure as closely as possible. Through Audi connect the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron can also display high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth for navigation, deliver ultra-accurate traffic information derived from the swarm intelligence of the Audi fleet and offer useful features such as a news feed, weather and travel updates and an on-street parking assistant.