Game changer, tipping point; however you’d like to phrase it, the new Audi Q4 e-tron certainly feels different. And that’s because the German car giant’s ‘most affordable all-electric SUV’ is straight forward.
I just jumped in and fired it up. There were no buttons to press or ‘twist-and-go’ gear set-up. Easy to drive, great pace and graceful, too. A roomy boot and flexible seating are a bonus.
Audi bosses clearly think they’re onto something. They are predicting up to 20,000 sales a year from next year, which would make it their second biggest seller after the A3.
Mass appeal: Audi hopes its new Q4 e-tron SUV will sell 20,000 a year
Prices start from £40,750 for the entry level 35 e-tron Sport. I was driving the more powerful 40 (which starts from £44,990) and my 204hp Launch Edition costs £49,875.
Audi says the most-popular version is expected to be the 40 e-tron S-line trim at £47,090.
The streamlined Sportback right-hand drive versions arrive in the UK in September with a mark-up of £1,500 at every level. The Q4 35 e-tron and Q4 40 e- tron SUV and Sportback use a single electric motor to deliver 170hp and 204hp respectively to the rear axle.
This propelled me from rest to 62mph in 8.5 seconds up to a top speed restricted to 99mph.
Range is up to 316miles. I set off with about 270miles available and was able to keep the battery ‘topped up’ with judicious use of acceleration and braking. Charging’s a doddle and the plug is on the side flank where you’d expect the fuel tank to be.
There are four trim levels at launch: Sport, S Line, Edition 1 and range-topping Vorsprung. The choice of interiors ranges from traditional leather to leather-free fabrics made from recycled bottles.
A new augmented reality head up display makes it easier for the driver to keep their eye on the real road ahead while important information is projected into the line of sight at a virtual distance which does not confuse the motorist. Sound experts Sonos have been brought in to handle the audio.
Depending on model and trim, the new Q4 e-trons run on 19, 20 or 21-inch wheels.
It drives very engagingly with plenty of pace and is no slouch away from lights and junctions.
It handles well and is simultaneously a comfortable and sophisticated ride and highly manoeuvrable.
Fast out of the blocks, it’s a handy ally if other drivers think they can start to take liberties.
You select your drive mode by simply pulling on a central gear control.
The neat, squared off steering wheel is good to grip and adds to the sporty sensation.
Though quiet, it’s not without sensation.
Although it is the size of a compact SUV – at 4.6m long – the long flat floor created by the lack of a transmission tunnel means the interior space matches that of a large sports utility vehicle. That means more legroom and boot space.
It is available in two battery sizes (52kWh and 77kWh net) with charging capacities of 100kW and 125kW, fast-charging that can get you 80 miles of extra range in just 10 minutes.
Motorists can personalise their digital daylight running lights, with a matrix system comprised of 16 individually activated LED cells: ‘The driver can switch between four signatures via the touchscreen.’
The vehicles are available in a choice of eight paint finishes, including two new metallic, and a gloss package adds privacy tinted rear windows.
There’s even a choice of steering wheels – traditionally round or flat-bottomed. Manual shift paddles are standard on some models but options on others.
Storage space abounds with around 25 litres of capacity in the cabin, including bottle holders in the doors that can hold bottles of up to one litre.
WILL IT FIT IN MY GARAGE? Audi Q4 e-tron SUV and Sportback
SUV: On sale now
Sportback: On sale from September
Price: from £40,750 to £65,070 (add around £2,000 for the Sportback)
Length: 4,588 mm (180.6 in)Width: 1,865 mm (73.4 in)Height: 1,623 mm (63.9 in)
Power: One or two electric motors (two on all-wheel Quattro models)
Battery: Two: 52kWh and 77kWh net – with charging capacities of 100kW and 125kW.
Range: Up to 316 miles (Q4 40 e-tron with a larger 77kWh battery)
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds (Q4 50 e-tron Quattro)
Top speed: 99mph to 111mph (depending on model)
Charging times: To 100% (AC wall charger): 7.5 hrsTo 80% DC fast-charger: 38 minutes 80 miles: 10 minutes (fast charger)
Seats up: 520 litres
Seats down: 1,490 litres
Seats up: 535 litres
Seats down: 1,460 litres
Wheels: 19, 20 or 21 inch.
The rear luggage compartment increases from 520 to 1,490 litres in the Q4 e-tron SUV and from 535 to 1,460 litres in the Sportback version.
Front-seats – sport-style in the UK – incorporate the latest safety tech so that in a side impact, a centre airbag deploys from the left-hand bolster of the driver’s seat in addition to the side airbags – to ensure that the driver and front passenger do not collide with one another.
Standard and optional upholstery choices cover premium fine Nappa leather, combinations of real leather and artificial leather, or artificial leather and the micro-fibre material Dinamica. This looks and feels like suede but is made of 45 per cent recycled polyester from various sources, including textiles and plastic bottles.
The S line trim interior has eco-friendly recycled Pulse cloth upholstery as standard.
Up to 50 percent of the textile used for the Pulse material is derived from the bottles, which are transformed into yarn in an elaborate procedure that yields the same quality standards in terms of look and feel as conventional textile upholstery.
It means a new lease of life is given to 26 1.5-litre plastic bottles to create a set of seats with this upholstery.
As I said at the beginning. There comes a moment in any period of major change –and boy aren’t we experiencing a few right now – when things reach a critical tipping point.
That precise but hard to define moment when the game really does change.
The fall of the Berlin Wall. The moment Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu heard once tame crowds booing his interminable Yuletide speech and realised the game was up and the next bullet was for him. When vinyl gave way to tape cassettes, CDs and then streaming downloads. And dare one say: Brexit. Whatever went before was the past. Big changes really are happening. And suddenly the future is here and now – for good or ill – so best get on with it.
It feels like the new Audi Q4 e-tron is right at that very tipping point.
Sutton launches UK’s most powerful Mustang
Car dealer to the stars Clive Sutton has launched the UK’s most powerful Mustang, a reworking of Ford’s latest 5-litre V8 muscle car.
His upgrade has almost doubled its standard power from 460hp to 859hp, equal to eight Ford Fiestas.
Wild thing: With enhanced dynamics, distinctive exterior styling and unique interior, the new special edition Mustang CS850GT costs £115,000
With enhanced dynamics, distinctive exterior styling and unique interior, the new special edition Mustang CS850GT costs £115,000.
Sutton is also known for his special edition Chrysler Grand Voyagers which were used by PM Tony Blair — and dubbed ‘Blairmobiles’.
Mover and shaker
As he gets to grips with electrifying his British luxury car brand, Bentley chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark has been named the nation’s leading motor industry executive for 2021 in the Auto Express ‘BritList’ of top 50 UK automotive movers and shakers
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