Audi introduced its Q4 50 e-tron SUV electric car earlier this year, with 295 hp of all-electric power good for 0-60 in 5.8 seconds.
The Q4 e-tron shares a platform with the VW ID.4—and feels like it.
Prices will start at just $51,095 once the Q4 40 comes out next year. Right now pricing starts at $54,895 for the more powerful Q4 50 model.
Audi is quite proud of its ongoing transition to electric power and of its growing line of electric cars, so much so that it invited us to drive the newish A4 50 e-tron quattro last week, and we did, in fact, enjoy it, for the most part.
Last week we published a story about just how proud Audi was of its EV lineup. Though when you read a little further into the story you saw that it “beat” Tesla by having five models to Tesla’s four. If you looked at sales, the number is a lot less boastworthy: Tesla sold a whopping 243,005 electric cars in the U.S. in the first half of this year, on track to clear half a million by year’s end. Audi sold 8009 electrics in the U.S. in that same timeframe. So we should probably be talking about Tesla here.
But the Audi lineup is just fine. In fact, up at the top of the Audi electric car lineup is the mighty RS e-tron GT, a thing of beauty and a joy to behold, even more so to drive, with up to 637 hp in “Boost Mode” and a 0-60 mph time of just 3.1 seconds. We did not drive that one this time, however. Instead, we got behind the wheel of the perfectly practical, nicely comfortable, and even somewhat luxurious Q4 50 e-tron quattro Sportback.
The Q4 rides on the same MEB platform as the Volkswagen ID.4, another almost painfully practical and somewhat more affordable electric car from Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen. So the Audi Q4 is a gussied-up VW. Nothing wrong with that; platform sharing goes across the board at every carmaker around the world, and Audi has done a nice job of lifting the MEB platform to new heights.
While the Volkswagen ID.4 shaves a little over 10 grand off the sticker, starting at $38,790 compared to the Audi Q4’s $51,095 cheapest model, the ID.4 also shares the same powertrain as the Audi Q4. Single-motor variants get rear-wheel drive and 201 hp, good for a 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds. Yes, that’s not very quick. In fact, the single-engine, rear-drive VW version of the platform gets to 60 in a just-barely-quicker 7.6 seconds, due to its lighter weight from a smaller battery pack. The Audi Q4s come with 82 kWh battery packs compared to the entry ID.4’s 58.
If you step up from the Audi Q4 40 e-tron to the Q4 50 e-tron, you get 295 hp, 339 lb-ft and a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds, which is almost sporty, if you use a little imagination. The Q4 50 has a range of 241 miles to the Q4 40’s 208 miles. One problem for entry-level Audi buyers is that the more affordable, slightly slower Q4 40 won’t be coming out till next year sometime. But you can buy as many Q4 50s as you like. Both are available in a sporty-looking Sportback roofline or more squared-off SUV profiles.
Both Q4 40 and Q4 50 ride on a 108.7-inch wheelbase and have loads of room inside—similar to the space available in the ID.4, come to think of it.
“Compact outside, very roomy inside,” said the ever-affable Anthony Garbis, senior manager of product planning for Audi of America. “It’s also the best storage that we’ve ever done.”
Buyers in this part of the market want practical interiors.
“It really matters to this buyer,” Garbis said. “We always want more storage. This is something we push for all the time on every one of our vehicles, and here we maximized the platform that allowed us to have all this storage capacity.”
Look for 25 cubic feet with the rear seats up and well over 50 cubic with them folded flat. The rear seats fold down in a handy and practical 40/20/40 arrangement. Also, check out the water bottle holders in the doors; Audi seems really proud of those, and the storage in the versatile center console will have you bringing all kinds of things with you into the car. Even the entry-level “Premium” trim offers eight-way adjustable power driver’s seat with four-way lumbar, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof and an LED interior lighting package. Step up to the “Technology” package and you get Audi MMI Navigation Plus, Virtual Cockpit Plus, and SONOS premium sound with 10 wireless speakers thumping out 580 watts of Mott The Hoople. There are plenty more options available but we’re running short on electrons.
Once on the road you’ll find the Q4 50 e-tron quiet and comfortable, if not exactly exhilarating to drive around a corner. A route we took through the mountains east of San Diego showed a platform that didn’t feel particularly sporty but an interior we felt like never leaving. Most buyers of compact SUVs, electric or otherwise, are usually looking for practicality over performance anyway, and this model gives them what they’re looking for.
If you’re in the market, Audi lists competitors as the all-electric Mercedes EQB SUV, and the Tesla Model Y, two crossovers that may outclass the Q in luxury and performance but which require a big step up in price. The all-electric Mazda CX-30 offers an artsy, almost cute interior, smaller size and a range of only 100 miles (more than enough for almost all your driving, by the way. Why pay for a bigger, heavier battery if you’re really never going to use the whole thing?)
Should you buy an Audi Q4? Well, if you do, Audi will inch ever-closer to Tesla’s sales-leading position. It only has 478,001 to catch up!