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Audi Q4 e-Tron Sportback review

Introduction

Cars used to be a lot simpler in the olden days. You would acquire a family hatchback, and everyone would be happy. That was the norm. Then the ‘Chelsea’ Tractor came along, and suddenly the whole world wanted a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).

So, all and sundry went and bought SUVs. But then the exclusivity was gone. Then BMW came along with its weird-looking swept-backed X6, and manufacturers soon realised: there’s a demand for slicing a wedge off the back of the roof and selling SUV coupes.

Select's rating score* - 4.1 / 5

At A Glance

This has been helped by the move towards all-electrification, which has made it easier for manufacturers to justify making cars that look different. And many of them are cashing in as a result.

BMW now has its X4, and Mercedes-Benz has its GLC Coupe. But, of course, the former also makes an all-electric iX3 nowadays (not a coupe version, mind you), while the latter has the battery-powered EQA. Also, Audi has joined the party with its Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron.

It is more or less the same as the Q4, but for that section of roof that’s missing, with a few tweaks to make it ooze a bit of coolness.


The front is more sportily styled, with Audi’s traditional large open-mouthed grille. It is not a genuine grille, as electric cars don't need them, but it's in keeping with Audi's brand. 

An all-dark grey surround spreads upwards and outwards, tucking in beneath the thin headlights on either side. Beneath the lights, the bodywork is angled such that it creates two large air intakes and accentuates the vehicle’s athletic characteristics.

Around the side, the lines are more like chiselled, sculpted valleys than subtle creases. Two thin but prominent indentations are sitting well above the front and rear wheel arches. A sizeable indentation at the bottom of the doors further enhances the Audi’s sporting credentials, as does the sloping roofline.


Around the back, there’s no traditional roof spoiler, but the bodywork creates a sizeable rear spoiler at the bottom of the windows above the Audi badge. The taillights merge into one due to a strip of LEDs running along the width of the boot, linking each end together. 

The rear is heavily sculpted, showing its aerodynamic properties, with a modest diffuser sitting beneath a glowing red e-tron logo.

So, it certainly looks the part – and will appeal to would-be SUV drivers who want something more exciting. But the traditional problem with SUV coupes is that they usually cost more than the original version of the SUV on which they’re based – yet are less practical.

But this is where the all-electric nature of many SUV coupes gives an advantage. Why? Because the improved aerodynamic properties can mean they have a slightly more extensive range than their full-sized SUV counterparts. 

And in this new world of ‘range anxiety’, that can be no bad thing, even if the difference is minimal. If range anxiety is troubling you, let us put your fears at rest with our guide explaining electric car range.

Key Features

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-Tron is available in four different trims.

Even the entry-level Sport is well-equipped, including 19-inch alloys, LED headlights and taillights, front cloth-covered sports seats, and a charging cable. You also get an 11.6-inch infotainment screen with Satnav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and three-zone automatic air conditioning (A/C). The A/C includes remote pre-conditioning, meaning you can get the cabin up to temperature before you step inside.

The S-Line is next up. It upgrades the alloys to 20-inches and adds privacy glass, half synthetic leather seats, ambient lighting and S-Line badging and styling.


The ‘Edition 1’ trim advances the headlights to matrix LEDs. It also includes a black styling pack, twin-leather and electrically adjustable memory seats and a flat top and bottomed leather steering wheel.

The top-of-the-range Vorsprung grade includes 21-inch alloys, grey contrast bumpers, nappa leather seats, and a panoramic glass sunroof. It also encompasses a SONOS premium sound system, an augmented reality head-up display and several driver assistance systems.

Range & Batteries

There are three different powertrains – 35, 40 and 50.

The 35 has a 51.5kWh battery, with a range of 211 miles, while the 40 has a larger 76.6kWh battery, claiming it’ll manage 323 miles. For those not well acquainted with EVs, we've pulled together a guide to talk you through what kW and kWh really mean.

The flagship 50 also has the same 76.6kWh battery, managing 308 miles. This figure is slightly less than the 40 version as it's powering a four-wheel-drive system.


While the 35 might suffice for most, its range is significantly behind most rivals and even its siblings elsewhere in the Q4 Sportback range. So, if you’re the type who is likely to be suffering from range anxiety where one worries about running out of juice, you might want to consider the larger batteries.

If you need a little more from your EV range, take a look at our top 10 longest range EVs of the year to find a range that works for you.

The real-world range will usually be noticeably lower than what’s quoted. And driving style, temperature and weather conditions can heavily influence how near or far you’ll get to the claimed figures.

Performance & Drive

There are three different powertrains available.

The entry-level 35 model is a rear-wheel-drive single motor producing 170PS. It gets from 0-62mph in 9.0-seconds and on to a top speed of 99mph.

The 40 model is also rear-wheel-drive but produces 204PS, getting from 0-62mph half a second quicker at 8.5-seconds. It, too, has a top speed of 99mph.

The top-of-the-range 50 is a quattro, meaning it has four-wheel-drive. Therefore, it has two motors, producing 299PS, managing 0-62mph in 6.2-seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

None of these figures is terrible, but they’re not ground-breaking, and other rivals would leave the car in the dust. Nevertheless, our 50 quattro test car in S-Line trim feels brisk off the line, giving you the confidence to floor the accelerator pedal. This is undoubtedly helped by the four-wheel-drive system, which enables it to get the power down.

The German car moves along well at all speeds, not even breaking a sweat when overtaking on motorways, and it never feels lethargic.


Despite their size, the 20-inch wheels on our test car still provide a decent level of ride comfort. However, compared with the standard Q4, you can feel that the 50 quattro has more of a rigid setup due to the sports suspension. Therefore, it feels a bit firmer and doesn't do as good a job smoothing out imperfections in the road, while potholes generate more of a thud through the cabin.

Body roll in the corners is well controlled, and the handling feels very refined. And, heading on to twistier back roads, the car changes direction well. So despite it being a reasonably large vehicle, the Q4 Sportback can be pushed without feeling like you're on the edge of losing control.

The noble handling is in part because we’re testing the S-Line version. Other trims aren't quite as nimble, so if this is an important area for you, the S-Line grade is the one to go for.

Despite the relative silence from underneath the bonnet, wind and road noise is reasonably contained thanks to the cabin’s healthy levels of soundproofing.

The Q4 Sportback’s regenerative braking is impressive, too. A common feature of all-electric cars is that regenerative braking can often feel inconsistent and grabby. But Audi has got on top of this, making it easy to get used to for first-timers.


Charging

The smaller 51.5kWh battery can be charged at 100kW.

Find a rapid charger, and it means you can get from a 10-80 per cent charge in just under 25 minutes. Meanwhile, getting from empty to full will take around eight hours with a 7kW home wall box. To get the most from your charger, make sure to consult our guide on picking your ideal charger.

The larger 76.6kWh battery can be charged more quickly at 135kW. However, it’ll take longer as it’s around half as big again as the smaller battery. You will be getting from a 10-80 per cent charge in just over 25 minutes, while a 7kW charge at home from 0-100 per cent will take approximately 12 hours. If timing like that doesn't work for your lifestyle, you might want to read up on what to do when you can't charge at home.


Running Costs & Emissions

The most significant advantage of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-Tron is that you can consign trips to the petrol station to the history books. And, despite rising energy costs, you can still save a significant amount by charging up the car rather than filling it up.

The lack of an engine means zero emissions, too. So, there’s nothing to pay when it comes to road tax, while company car drivers will be licking their lips (and looking gleefully at their wallets) as Benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax is meagre, too.

Plus, estimates show that the Audi is likely to hold its value better than its rivals. So that will make it more attractive for those looking to lease one. Why? Because the cost of leasing is partly based on the expected resale value at the end of the leasing period.

In terms of reliability, the Q4 Sportback e-Tron is too new to know how dependable it will be. Unfortunately, Audi’s reputation for reliability is not what it was, although it fairs similarly well with its fellow German rivals.

It is also worth noting that servicing costs aren’t likely to be cheap. However, the vehicle won't need maintaining as often as a combustion-engined car.


Interior & Technology

The interior is everything you’d expect from an Audi.

Apart from the steering wheel, which is flat-bottomed and flat-topped, making it look somewhat hexagonal, it's a joy to sit in. The sizeable air vents dominate the dashboard. But they’re stylish and angled, with a gap in the middle filled by the infotainment screen, which is angled towards the driver.

The infotainment system is excellent, with a choice of radio, media, telephone, Satnav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, car information, favourites, and settings from the main menu. It is very responsive, clear, and easy to use, even though BMW’s iDrive system still leads the way.


The Virtual Cockpit is configurable, too. But, despite the digitisation of many things in the cabin, we’re relieved that there are still physical switches for things like the climate control system.

Most of the materials are soft-to-the-touch, plush surfaces, and anything that’s not is either piano black or silver. The materials on the doors, which feature thin plastics, feel a little cheaper, but you’re unlikely to spend too long looking at them.


Practicality & Boot Space

There is plenty of space in the front. And finding a comfortable driving position is easy enough, helped by the lumbar support adjustment.

Even the tallest of drivers won’t struggle for headroom, and the cabin is wide enough for you to be able to stretch out.

There is a lot of legroom in the back, so most people will easily fit. However, the sloping roofline means that taller rear-seat passengers might find they're struggling a bit. In addition, the middle seat creates a bit of a hump, which further reduces the headroom on offer.


The pillars can obstruct the view from the driver's seat. They are not especially thin at the front, but they are thick at the back, not helped by the sloping roofline, which ensures the rear windscreen is on the thin side.

There is a reasonable amount of storage space in the centre console, two cupholders, and some room beneath the protruding gear selector panel. The door bins are reasonably big, too, and there are a couple of USB-C ports.

You get 535-litres of space in the boot, which expands to 1,460-litres with the rear seats put down.

The boot has an extensive opening, and you get a powered tailgate as standard throughout the range.

What is bizarre is that the Q4 Sportback’s boot capacity is more significant than the full-size Q4 SUV, although it’s marginally smaller with the seats folded down.


Safety

The safety body Euro NCAP hasn’t crash-tested an Audi Q4 Sportback e-Tron. But that’s because the rating of the standard Q4 SUV is also valid for this new coupe version.

It earned a five-star rating, scoring 93 per cent for adult occupants, 89 per cent for children and 80 per cent for safety assists.

Lots of safety kit is included as standard. Equipment includes automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, Audi pre-sense front, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, swerve and turn assist, and a tyre pressure indicator.

That is a wholesome amount of kit. But some of the best features, including an augmented reality head-up display, a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control, are only offered as standard on flagship Vorsprung trim.

Pick that trim, and you’ll also get Audi Parking System Plus, Audi pre-sense basic and pre-sense rear, Audi Side Assist, and cross-traffic assist rear.


Options

Many options are available, including wall brackets for your home charging equipment and the SONOS premium sound system.

You can add a reversing camera as part of the Comfort and Sound Pack, or it’s also included with the slightly more expensive Assistance Package Advance. This includes parking system plus and adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter. In addition, the Safety Package Plus fits Audi pre-sense basic and pre-sense rear, along with side assist with exit warning and rear cross-traffic assist.

What’s more, you can opt for a heat pump. This helps to get warm air into the cabin quickly on cold days, saving the battery at the same time.

Damper-controlled suspension can also be acquired, while an ambient lighting pack costs a little extra, too.

Some of these features are factory fitted further up the trim levels, so check before signing on the dotted line.


Rival Cars

Obvious all-electric rivals include the BMW iX3 and the Mercedes-Benz EQA. But if you’re not ready to abandon the combustion engine yet, a BMW X4 or the Mercedes GLC Coupe might be worth looking at if you want something similarly shaped to the Audi.

However, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volvo C40 Recharge are two less apparent choices worth shortlisting, especially if you’re keen on performance. Both have far more powerful variants available compared with the Audi.

If you’re not bothered by the badge snobbery of driving a premium brand car, you should also look at the Kia e-Niro and the Skoda Enyaq.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is very similar, too, as it’s built on the same platform. In addition, the VW is cheaper, but it's also better equipped as standard.


Verdict & Next Steps

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is an excellent choice. But, as we said earlier, it's a hard sell when the full-size version offers more rear-seat space and a better range.

Nevertheless, if the coupe shape is crucial to you, then taken in isolation, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is among the best in its class.

It is comfortable, spacious, and sophisticated; it handles well (especially the S-Line variant with the sports suspension) and is well-equipped.

The driver visibility isn't the best, and the performance, in terms of outright power, could be better. Plus, you’ll need to avoid the entry-level model unless you’re not bothered by its short range.

But, all things considered, there are not many SUV coupes that will top this.

Where to next?

View our latest Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback Leasing Deal  - from just £487.64 per month inc VAT**

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback

**Correct as of 05/05/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £4,388.76 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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