Noble and affordable

Classy and affordable

… Finds Frank Wald, auto media portal.Net, the Audi Q4 e-Tron

From a technical point of view, this is just another version of the Wolfsburg Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB), on which the VW ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq are already based.

But on the road, the new Audi Q4 e-Tron is a real sight to behold, and its elegance, both technical and refined, has absolutely nothing in common with its corporate brethren. The compact SUV-stromer comes in two body styles from launch: a classic SUV and a Sportback in a trendy coupe form. But above all, as the first Audi all-electric, with an entry-level price starting at 41.900 euros (just under 32.000 euros after deduction of the subsidy) seems affordable even for larger circles – at least if you don't crave more power and equipment and can be patient for a little longer. Of the three possible engines, only the Q4 40 e-Tron with 150 kW (204 hp) is now available. The Q4 50 e-Tron quattro available with 220 kW (299 hp). The basic Q4 35 e-Tron model with 125 kW (170 hp) will not be available until the end of the year. And that means that prices currently start at 47 euros.500 euros. For the top version with electric all-wheel drive, Audi is calling for at least 53.600 euros on. And another 2000 euros for each of the Sportback variants. Because these are also not to follow until after the summer, we chose the current entry-level SUV with rear-wheel drive for a first test drive.

With its sturdy and harmonious proportions, it looks as if it has been milled from a single piece of cast iron. Short front overhangs, a high front end with a closed single-frame grille and full-surface rings (behind which there are various sensors), wheels up to 21 inches in size, muscularly shaped flanks and a wide rear end with a striking roof spoiler and continuous light strip at the rear are the features that stick out. In addition, the digital daytime running light signatures of the optional matrix LED headlights, which can be varied in four different patterns at any time via the MMI touch.

What immediately stands out when you get in is the classic cockpit layout with an integrated 10.25-inch instrument cluster, a dashboard slightly tilted toward the driver with a 10.1- to 11.6-inch touchscreen and keypad for the climate control below it, and a center tunnel that is at least hinted at, which would basically no longer be necessary due to the elimination of the transmission and gimbal tunnel. But Audi obviously doesn't want to overload the driver – like a VW ID 4 – with new instrumentation and controls. That's why the dashboard supports and surfaces shine as usual and much appreciated in matte aluminum and glossy piano lacquer look as well as high-quality leather and wood textures.

Futuristic looking steering wheel

And yet the engineers have used the MEB's skateboard design to create generous storage areas and compartments around the driver's seat for the first time, with a total capacity of almost 25 liters. For example, the 4.4-liter compartment between the front seats or the slots in all four door panels, each of which can now easily hold a 1-liter bottle. And the (optional) steering wheel, which is flattened at the top and bottom for the first time and conveys a hint of spaceship control, and the floating center console, on which the start button and gear lever are enthroned, look a little futuristic.

In general, the Q4 e-Tron seems bigger inside than its compact 4.59-meter length would suggest. But a wheelbase of 2.76 meters creates a lot of space, primarily for the rear passengers, who enjoy the knee and headroom of a Q7 despite sitting seven centimeters higher. The rear seat can of course be folded down in two, increasing the trunk space from 520 to 1490 liters; in the Sportback it's even 535 liters in the normal position. In the front, the occupants enjoy spacious freedom of movement and a generous overview, and the driver even enjoys a distant view if the optional augmented reality head-up display is on board. Similar to VW and Skoda, it projects blue animated navigation arrows onto the road, warns of lane departure with yellow-red markers, and shows the distance to the car ahead with a green bar. It works amazingly reliably, so you even miss it when it's deactivated for a change.

Up to 534 kilometers of range

In contrast, the first test lap in the Q4 40 e-Tron was almost unspectacular – in the best sense of the word. The SUV, which weighs more than two tons, doesn't seem underpowered even with "only" 150 kW (204 hp), which is probably mainly due to the 310 Nm of torque that provides the necessary pressure in every situation right from the start. The classical speed 100 mark is reached after 8.5 seconds, whereby the electric driver is less interested than the maximum range, in favor of which also already the maximum speed is electronically limited to 160 km/h. Here the Q4 40 e-Tron driver can rejoice. Because the mid-range engine comes with the larger 82 kWh battery as standard energy storage, of which it can only use just under 77 kWh net, the juice is only supposed to run out after 520 kilometers according to WLTP measurements. The Sportback version is said to go even 14 kilometers further because of its better aerodynamics. The base model 35 e-Tron, on the other hand, with its 55 kWh battery (52 kWh net), already makes after 341 or. 349 (Sportback) kilometers, the all-wheel-drive top model 50 e-Tron quattro with the large battery also only manages 488 or. 497 kilometers.

Our first ride didn't go that far, but the on-board computer showed a little over 20 kWh consumption after 97 kilometers, which is just over the stated maximum of 19.6 kWh. This was predominantly via city-. Country roads with short full-speed stages on the highway. Engine control and chassis seemed finely adjusted, whether in comfort or dynamic driving mode, the SUV does not show any ticks and convinces with its controlled handling. What's striking: Despite the heavy battery pack in the floor of the vehicle, the SUV doesn't rumble on bad surfaces, as is the case with electric cars. But it's also due to the fact that, thanks to the low center of gravity, it's extremely good on the asphalt at all times, especially in tight corners. However, the steering could provide a bit more feedback in this regard, but regulates very precisely to the point during normal driving. The maneuverability of the SUV is impressive. With a turning circle of just 10.2 meters, the massive ride turns on the road like a small car in one go.

At the end it becomes nevertheless again expensive. Audi is flanking the June market launch with two special models. The elegant Edition One in geyser blue adapts the design of the Q4 e-tron concept show car, while the Edition One in typhoon gray shows distinctly sporty accents. The edition models are priced from 9490 euros above the regular models – which would mean that the subsidy would be lost again. Unfortunately too early to rejoice.

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