2021 Audi Q4 e-tron: prices, specs and prototype drive

Audi’s second e-tron model will be heavily based on the Volkswagen ID.4 and manage over 300 miles on a charge

  • Q4 e-tron prototype teased with new 11.4-inch touchscreen
  • Uses same platform as ID.4 SUV
  • On sale this summer priced from around £40,000

The forthcoming Audi Q4 e-tron has been teased in a series of new images that gives us our best look yet at the electric SUV’s exterior design, while also fully revealing the interior.

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The Q4 e-tron is the first Audi to be based on the VW Group’s MEB platform, which also underpins the larger Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq. It’ll sit between the Q3 and Q5 SUVs in terms of size, and is expected to be revealed later this year with a starting price of around £40,000.

Along with the reveal of Q4 e-tron’s interior, we’ve driven an early prototype model to see how it's shaping up. Read on for our review.

2021 Audi Q4 e-tron interior

The new images show the interior of the Q4 e-tron takes design cues from the latest A3, with Audi claiming that it’s as spacious inside as the Q5 SUV thanks to the packaging of the electric powertrain.

The dashboard features an angular design, with a continuous lip across the centre to separate the upper and lower sections. The hexagonal steering wheel features touch sensitive controls with haptic feedback. Behind this is a 10.25-inch digital dial cluster, complemented by a standard 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. A larger 11.6-inch version is available from the options list and is the largest display ever available in an Audi.

A floating centre console houses the car's gear shifter, as well as providing a storage space beneath it. An array of storage cubbies are dotted around the interior as well, including a large centre console bin and bottle holders in the front door panels.

New technology includes an augmented reality head-up-display. This is capable of showing sat-nav directions around 10 metres in front of the car as you drive, which are only visible from the driver’s perspective.

Several interior trim options will be available, ranging from real leather upholstery and Nappa leather to a man-made faux leather option. You can also expect various contrasting trim options including piano black and carbon fibre effect inserts and ambient interior lighting.

Design, dimensions and practicality

From the official preview images, which show a thinly disguised prototype, it's clear the production version of the Q4 e-tron carries over most of the concept car’s design. In some respects, it looks quite like the firm’s other SUV models, with a conventional roofline, a virtually flat window line and a rear windscreen that’s not steeply raked.

The front end features new headlights that are likely to be configurable Matrix LED versions on top-spec cars. The grille is closed off to aid efficiency with slats that open when cooler air is required. At the sides, the sills protrude outwards at the wheel arches, which house a set of aero-efficient alloy wheels. The rear of the car gets an intricate tail-light design similar to the e-tron GT sports car and a rear diffuser.

As is common across the entire Audi range, it's likely the outside will feature contrasting silver trim around the grille, window surrounds and badges. A Black Edition model will swap that for darkened trim.

The car’s electric drivetrain and MEB platform aids practicality. There’s a 520-litre boot with the 40:20:20 split-folding rear seats upright, which expands to 1,490 litres with them folded down.

Performance, powertrain and charging

The Q4 e-tron SUV uses the VW Group’s dedicated MEB platform for electric cars, just like the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback and the ID.4 SUV. This chassis keeps the batteries and electric motors low for improved dynamics and handling.

Drivetrain specs have not been confirmed but the Q4 e-tron will use the same range of electric motors and battery options as the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV. This means the most powerful version will get a twin-motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain with 302bhp from a 77kWh battery. In this guise, the Q4 e-tron will be capable of 0-62mph in around six seconds, a top speed of 112mph and a WLTP range of 311 miles.

Lower spec versions of the Q4 e-tron will be rear-wheel drive and have 201bhp or 168bhp. The lower powered, entry-level model is likely to have a smaller 58kWh battery giving it a range of around 260 miles.

As the Q4 e-tron uses identical battery and charging tech as the other MEB models, charging times will be similar. This means a maximum charging rate of 125kW, with a rapid-charger taking around 30 minutes to top up the battery from 0-80%. When using a 7kW home wallbox, a full charge takes around eight to nine hours.

Alongside the new Q4 e-tron, Audi is also developing an e-tron GT flagship to rival the Tesla Model S, and having access to the MEB platform suggests an electric model the size of the A3 hatchback will be introduced in the next few years. This platform is also likely to underpin an electric Audi TT, if that is put into production.

2021 Audi Q4 e-tron prototype drive by Thomas Geiger

As the Audi Q4 e-tron SUV edges closer to production, we were given the chance to drive a prototype version. A twin-motor powertrain splitting 302bhp between the front and rear axles means that on paper at least, it's as sporty as an SQ5 and faster than an ID.3 hatchback.

Accelerating from a standstill to 62mph takes around six seconds, with the electric motors providing plenty of instantaneous torque at all speeds. While it lacks the artificial sound generator of the e-tron GT, hitting its top speed of 112mph on the Autobahn suggests the Q4 e-tron is more than capable of providing a similar driving thrill to an equivalent petrol and diesel model.

On the road the ride is comfortable thanks to optional adaptive suspension, which gives it a similar level of refinement as you’d find in the full-sized Audi Q7 SUV. The chassis is only upset by the harshest road surfaces, reminding you of its two-ton weight. Despite this weight figure, the car’s handling benefits from a low centre of gravity, a long wheelbase and progressive steering, making it feel agile yet secure on twisty country roads.

One small blot on the Q4’s copybook is the braking. There are three different settings for regenerative braking, meaning that each time you step on the pedal the converter motor is doing most of the work to bring the car to a halt. Even with the regen set to maximum, one-pedal driving is not possible at lower speeds, which is disappointing considering this is standard in both the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3.

In the confines of a city, the benefits of the Q4’s platform are obvious; it has a far smaller turning circle than a conventional car. This makes it easy to drive around town and easy to manoeuvre into tight parking spaces with the bodywork-mounted cameras beaming a useful surround image to the infotainment screen.

Inside, the interior design is typical of a modern Audi with a top notch fit and finish. The hexagonal steering wheel is nicely designed and features touch sensitive pads, with the digital dial cluster getting posher graphics. It also features a row of physical switches above the centre console, which combines to give the interior a familiar look and feel similar to many of the firm’s current models.

Verdict:

Audi has taken its time with the Q4 e-tron but it has been worth the wait. It’s spacious inside and feels compact and agile to drive. The powerful electric motor setup and battery provide an excellent blend of performance and usable range, and there’s a high-tech yet functional interior.

Add these factors to the premium badge on the nose and, if Audi can get the pricing and finance deals right, the smallest electric SUV in the firm’s range be its biggest success yet. The Q4 e-tron could very well trump its electric rivals, including the Mercedes EQA and BMW iX3.

Read our guide to the best electric SUVs on the market.

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