What Car? says...
Put simply, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron gives you less for more. Despite having a higher price than the regular Q4 electric SUV its body is lower, and therefore not as spacious inside.
That might sound like a bum deal, but the sleeker roof means the Q4 Sportback uses less electricity to punch itself through the air, increasing the range by a not inconsiderable amount. In other words, this is one of the few coupé SUVs you can find a sensible – rather than simply aesthetic – reason to buy.
As with the standard Audi Q4 e-tron you’ll find the same guts as a Skoda Enyaq and VW ID 4 under the slinky skin. That means you get a choice of two battery packs, one with a range of around 200 miles, the other with around 300. Audi offers three power outputs to pick from, ranging from rather tame to hot hatch-baitingly rapid.
As we said, it's pricier than the Q4, but the Q4 Sportback still looks like good value compared with other premium-badged electric SUVs. They include the BMW iX3, the Mercedes EQA and the Volvo C40 Recharge. If you can do without a posh badge, we’d also consider the Kia Niro EV, the Enyaq and the ID 4.
Over the next few pages, this review will tell you all about the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s abilities in detail, including what the performance is like, how far it’ll go on a charge and how it stacks up for cornering and comfort.
Of course, we’ll also have a good poke around inside, telling you how luxurious it is and how much room there is. We’ll even tell you all about the costs, equipment and how it compares with those rivals.
If at the end you decide the Q4 Sportback or any other make and model of vehicle is right for you, make sure you check out our free What Car? New Car Deals service. It could save you thousands of pounds without the hassle of haggling and features lots of the best new electric SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 35 model of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron has a single 168bhp motor that powers its rear wheels and gets you from 0-62mph in 9.0sec. That’s no swifter than the significantly cheaper Fiat 500 electric. The official range of 211 miles isn’t particularly brilliant, either.
Next up is the 40 model, which has a much more respectable 201bhp, giving it an 8.5sec 0-62mph time. That’s still not particularly speedy, but does at least mean you get the bigger 82.7kWh battery pack with a significantly longer official range of 323 miles (a similarly equipped Q4 e-tron managed 266 miles in our Real Range tests)
Finally there’s the top-spec 50, which can hit 62mph in 6.2sec thanks to twin motors, four-wheel drive and 295bhp. Acceleration off the line is good thanks to the added traction of its four-wheel drive system, but the more powerful Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volvo C40 Recharge would leave it for dead. The 50’s range is reduced to 308 miles due to the weight penalty of having four driven wheels. That's still further than the C40 Recharge, though.
Suspension and ride comfort
Even in its ‘sportiest’ form – S Line with 20in wheels and stiffer sports suspension – the Q4 Sportback is still supple enough for low-speed town work. On a motorway there’s a bit of fidget over pockmarked surfaces, and bigger undulations aren’t flattened out as well as they are in the C40 Recharge, but the Q4 Sportback is far from being an annoying high-speed companion.
We’ve also tried the Q4 Sportback with the fancier adjustable suspension that comes as standard on Vorsprung models, and is an option on all others. With that set-up, it doesn’t deal with surface imperfections as well as the very best petrol SUVs, but it still has the edge over the firmer BMW iX3.
The more stiffly-sprung S Line model with sports suspension resists body lean better than Q4 Sportback models equipped with adjustable suspension (especially set to its softest mode).
The adjustable set-up does improve in its Dynamic setting – although the steering feels more accurate in the Balanced and Comfort modes – but the iX3 is still more enjoyable to hustle along. On a more positive note, the Q4 Sportback grips strongly, giving you the confidence to carry speed along a twisty B-road.
Rear-wheel drive 35 and 40 Q4 Sportbacks have a very tight turning circle for a car of this size, which is a real boon when you're parking. Four-wheel drive 50 versions are less manoeuvrable because the extra mechanical gubbins reduces the amount the wheels can turn.
Noise and vibration
The Q4 Sportback e-tron can’t match the incredible refinement of the bigger and more expensive Audi Q8 e-tron but it is better at shutting out road noise than the Mustang Mach-E. Wind noise is light unless there’s a heavy crosswind, in which case you hear it gusting around the door mirrors.
Many electric vehicles (including the Mach-E) can be hard to stop smoothly because they struggle to blend their normal friction brakes and the regenerative braking that tops up their batteries as you slow. That's not the case with the Q4 Sportback, though – its brake pedal is reassuringly consistent.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
You sit quite high up in the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, plus there’s a wide range of adjustment to help you get settled, including for lumbar support.
As a bonus, the climate controls are conventional switches, which are far less distracting to use on the move than the touchscreen icons you get in the Skoda Enyaq, let alone the touch-sensitive panels of the VW ID 4.
Configurable digital instruments are standard, with an augmented-reality head-up display fitted to range-topping Vorsprung models and optional as part of the Technology Pack. It reduces the need to look down at the dashboard by projecting sat-nav directional arrows and other useful info so it appears to be on the road ahead. It’s certainly useful, although some icons are less clear on sunny days.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The need to accommodate the augmented-reality head-up display has forced Audi to position the Q4 Sportback's windscreen pillars unusually far forward, where they can sometimes obscure your view at junctions. The Volvo C40 Recharge has a much more conventional layout, making it easier to judge the leading edge of the bonnet when parking.
Your side view is fine, but the Q4 Sportback's tapering roofline and thick rear pillars can obscure your over-the-shoulder view, although there are some windows in those pillars that provide much more visibility than you get in the C40.
The small rear screen hinders your rear view too, and you only get a reversing camera if you go for top-spec Vorsprung trim, or pay extra for the Comfort and Sound Pack. Powerful LED headlights are standard across the range, as are rear parking sensors.
Sat nav and infotainment
Above the climate controls in the Q4 Sportback sits a 10.1 infotainment touchscreen (or an 11.6in system if you've selected that option). It's not quite as intuitive as the set-up in the BMW iX3 but it’s better than the Enyaq’s and much better than the ID 4’s.
You also get a DAB radio, built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, two USB-C ports and a three-year subscription to online services including Google maps and weather and hazard alerts.
Range-topping Vorsprung models feature a Sonos premium stereo that sounds rather impressive, although there's not a lot of background noise in the Q4 Sportback to contend with anyway.
Despite featuring some disappointingly hard plastic on the doors, it feels much classier than the Enyaq and the ID 4, as well as the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Indeed, quality is generally comparable with the smaller but pricier C40 Recharge.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’ll have plenty of head and leg room in the front of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, even if you’re well over six feet tall. The car is wide enough that there’s no danger of the driver and front passenger banging elbows.
You get a huge storage bin between the front seats along with two cupholders and a stowage space at the base of the dashboard, and the door bins are a good size. You even get a couple of bonus cubbies on the doors in front of the electric window controls that are perfect for a selection of chocolate bars.
Rear-seat passengers are well catered for, with the Q4 Sportback offering significantly more knee room than the Volvo C40 Recharge and more head room than the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Unsurprisingly, the regular Q4 and the Skoda Enyaq are better for rear head room, with those over six feet tall likely to find their heads close to the ceiling.
A passenger in the central rear seat will be reasonably comfortable if they're not too tall because the floor is virtually flat, but they'll have even less head room than those in the outer seats.
Seat folding and flexibility
The Q4 Sportback's rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40 arrangement on most versions, rather than the more versatile 40/20/40 split offered by the Mercedes EQA and some other rivals.
If you really want the flexibility of the 40/20/40 split, you can get in on pricier Edition 1 models and above. The rear seats don’t slide, recline or do anything else that’s particularly clever.
Front passenger seat height adjustment is standard across the range, with Edition 1 models bringing full electric adjustment.
True, the Tesla Model 3 can take 10 cases, but that's split between its two boots (one is in its nose) and it has a narrower saloon-car opening. The Q4 Sportback’s wide aperture and tailgate mean it’ll fit much bulkier items, plus that tailgate is powered on all versions.
If you specify a height-adjustable boot floor (part of the optional Function Pack) and set it to its highest setting, there is no step up to the folded seats, making it easier to slide in big, heavy loads. That also lets you keep the charging cable beneath the floor, away from your luggage. The Function Pack also adds a 12V boot-mounted power socket and storage nets for smaller items.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron undercuts some premium rivals and is likely to hold its value well, which should make for attractive leasing deals and PCP finance rates. As with all electric cars the Q4 Sportback is very cheap to run if you’re a company car driver because it's in a very low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax band.
The 50 model can charge at speeds of up to 125kW. That means it's possible to charge the battery from 10-80% on a public rapid charger in 34mins, while a 0-100% charge at home on a 7kW charger takes just over 12 hours. The lesser 35 has a lower 100kW limit, but because it has a smaller capacity (51.5kWh useable compared with 76.6kWh on the 40 and 50), it has quicker charging times of 8.5 hours at home, or 30 mins on a rapid charger.
Equipment, options and extras
Even the Q4 Sportback's entry-level Sport trim is decently equipped, getting 19in alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, heated front seats and a Type 2 charging cable.
Upgrading to S line brings 20in wheels, privacy glass, sports front seats and ambient interior lighting. Edition 1 models also get electrically adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a black exterior styling pack and paddles behind the steering wheel that let you quickly change the level of energy recuperation.
In addition to all of the above and the augmented-reality head-up display and upgraded sound system, range-topping Vorsprung models feature a grey exterior styling pack and a panoramic glass sunroof.
The Q4’s battery warranty lasts for eight years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) and the rest of the car is covered for three years/60,000 miles. That’s nothing special when you consider that the main warranty on the Kia Niro EV stretches to seven years/100,000 miles.
Safety and security
Although the Q4 Sportback hasn’t been crash tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP, the five-star rating the regular Audi Q4 e-tron received still applies. It scored more than 90% for adult occupant protection and 89% for child occupant protection.
Audi also fits lots of safety equipment as standard, including lane-keeping assistance and an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can detect pedestrians and cyclists as well as other cars.
Unless you go for the range-topping Vorsprung model, you have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring and a system that warns you if another vehicle is passing behind you when you’re reversing out of a parking space.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
|RRP price range||£52,130 - £67,605|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£104 / £135|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£208 / £270|