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Audi unveils 520km Q4 E-Tron electric SUV

No local confirmation for most mainstream Audi EVs yet, the Q4 E-Tron and Sportback

15 Apr 2021

AUDI has revealed the production-ready Q4 E-Tron mid-size electric SUV in wagon and coupe-style Sportback forms ahead of their respective European showroom debuts in June and September.


Plans for an Australian launch of Audi’s third all-electric model line remain unconfirmed, although the local branch told GoAuto it was “working on it”.


Meanwhile the battery powered E-Tron GT sports sedan and high-performance ‘S’ version of the E-Tron large electric SUV are still scheduled to launch here later in 2021.


As its name suggests, the Q4 E-Tron slots between the Q3 and Q5 in Audi’s SUV range, firmly occupying the mid-size SUV segment with dimensions similar to those of a Toyota RAV4.


Priced from €41,990 ($A65,124) in Germany where customers can claim a €9000 EV subsidy, the Q4 E-Tron has an official WLTP battery range of up to 520km depending on the variant.


Across the two body styles are three drivetrain options – rear-wheel drive with either 125kW/310Nm or 150kW/310Nm outputs and twin-motor all-wheel-drive developing a combined 220kW/460Nm.


Respective 0-100km/h acceleration times are 9.0 seconds, 8.5s and 6.2s, with the former two topping out at a governed 160km/h and the latter at 180km/h.


The least powerful ‘35’ variants have a battery pack capacity of 52kWh, limiting WLTP range to 341km for the wagon and 349km for the more aerodynamic Sportback.


Maximum range of 520km goes to the mid-spec ‘40’ drivetrain that comes with a 77kWh pack, shared with the ’50 quattro’ dual-motor performance champion that sacrifices 32km of range as a wagon or 23km as a Sportback.


Audi claims that 10 minutes using a 125kW DC rapid charger will add 130km of WLTP range to big battery variants (the small battery is limited to 100kW DC charging) and that the Q4 E-Tron’s satellite navigation system will optimise route planning around available public charging infrastructure.


The small battery is also limited to 7.2kW AC charging whereas those with the bigger packs can take 11kW AC.


Behind the standard powered tailgate is 520 litres of luggage space (1490L with the rear seats folded), which is at the large end for the Q4 E-Tron’s segment against the similar-sized RAV4’s 542L and 1690L. The sleeker Sportback has 15L more boot space with the seats deployed but 30L less with them folded.


In-cabin storage of almost 25 litres is promised, including the ability to store one-litre bottles in the door bins, and overall space for occupants is claimed to match conventionally powered cars from the segment above due to the packaging advantages of a dedicated all-electric platform, its long 2.76-metre wheelbase and flat floor with no transmission tunnel.


Towing capacity is pegged at 1200kg braked for all-wheel-drive variants and 1000kg for those with two-wheel drive, enough for tugging a tinnie or basic camper trailer – although Audi stipulates these capacities are subject to driving on roads with a maximum 12 per cent incline. The roof rails can take up to 75kg.


Being electric Audis, the Q4 E-Tron pair major on technology accessible to the driver. Highlights include big touchscreens of up to 11.6 inches with online services connectivity, customisable digital instrument panel, an augmented reality head-up display, backlit touch-sensitive steering wheel controls and two-deck centre console with push-button gear selectors.


Sonos premium audio is available, as is wireless connectivity for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The gamut of semi-autonomous driver aids and safety tech are also included, as well as intelligent efficiency systems that maximise driving range by predicting traffic patterns.


Ingolstadt’s emphasis on interior design and quality has been applied to the Q4 E-Tron with a sustainability edge, for example the fabric of each seat being made of around 26 recycled 1.5-litre plastic bottles, with other textiles being variously recycled or reclaimed.


Total production of the Q4 E-Tron is also claimed to be carbon neutral, both by using clean energy sources at Audi’s Zwickau factory and requiring the same of its major battery cell suppliers, and offsetting unavoidable emissions through certified climate protection projects.


Mostly faithful to the Q4 E-Tron concept revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show and subsequent Sportback iteration shown last July, the production versions have a muscular presence suggestive of high-performance internal combustion power beneath their heavily sculpted exteriors.


Despite their looks, both body styles are wind-tunnel hewn, the Sportback achieving a drag coefficient of 0.26 and the wagon 0.28, hence the former’s slightly better battery range figures.


These slippery exteriors make the most of the drivetrains’ efficiency-boosting coasting mode that is prioritised over regenerative braking, of which three levels can be manually activated via the steering wheel panels or operates by default with the transmission in the ‘B’ position.


Enough regen to deliver a sense of ‘engine braking’ is provided when the Dynamic drive mode is engaged.


On the subject of dynamics, the underslung battery pack provides a low centre of gravity and near 50:50 weight distribution regardless of drivetrain configuration.


Dynamic upgrade options include 15mm-lower sports suspension and a progressive steering ratio that can be further enhanced by adaptive dampers for the McPherson struts up front and five-link independent rear layout.


Alloy wheel sizes range from 19 to 21 inches, with 235-section low rolling resistance tyres up front and 255s at the back, and brakes with up to 358mm rotors up front and old-school drums at the rear, which Audi says require less maintenance and are rarely used due to the rear-axle regen typically taking care of deceleration duties at that end of the car.


While the Sportback’s silhouette is similar to that of a Tesla Model Y that is scheduled for European release around the same time, the Californian car is bigger and will be more expensive.


Similarly, in Europe the Hyundai Ioniq 5 will sit above the Q4 E-Tron pair in terms of size and price, although more affordable versions are expected to roll out after initial deliveries commence between now and mid-year. The Ioniq 5 is confirmed to go on sale Down Under in the second half of this year.


The Q4 pair are also smaller than the Skoda Enyaq (from €33,800 in Germany) with which they share Volkswagen Group’s electric-only MEB platform that also underpins the VW ID.4. Neither of these models are confirmed for Australia.

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