2021 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron revealed: price, specs and release date

New Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept previews a sleek electric SUV with a range of up to 311 miles that will go on sale this time next year...

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron prototype front static

On sale Summer 2021 | Price from £50,000 (est)

One day, car makers will run out of new niches, but we’re not there yet. We’ve already had the SUV, the coupé SUV and the electric coupé SUV. And now with the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, we have the compact electric coupé SUV.

Sitting below the existing E-tron Sportback both in terms of size and price, it oddly manages to be both something different and about as on-trend as cars get, given that downsizing, zero-emission motoring and coupé SUVs are all independently popular right now.

It should be noted that the car in the pictures is just a concept. But it’s about 90% representative of a production model with the same name that you’ll be able to buy this time next year; imagine it fractionally taller and wearing 21in rather than 22in wheels, and you’re pretty much there.

From the front it’s identical to the regular Q4 E-tron concept, which Audi revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show, meaning a completely closed front grille with a black surround that flows out into slim lights and air intakes that are big enough to fit your head in.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron prototype rear static

However, from the central side pillars backwards the Sportback does its own thing; its roof curves downwards far more dramatically, leading into a high-set spoiler that cuts the rear window in two horizontally.

The designers apparently took their inspiration for this last feature from the radical A2 hatchback, sold between 1999 and 2005, but it’s not just there for style reasons; it also improves aerodynamics, so should give the Q4 Sportback e-tron a slightly longer range than the regular Q4 E-tron, even though Audi quotes 280 miles for both concepts.

The 82kWh battery pack, which is beneath the floor, can be charged from 10-80% in around 35 minutes using a 125kW public rapid charger or 0-100% in 12 hours 15 minutes via a 7.4 kW home wall box. Plus, there’s an electric motor on each axle to deliver four-wheel drive, a combined 302bhp and 0-62mph in 6.3sec.

A rear-wheel drive version of the production car will also be offered, for those willing to accept reduced performance in exchange for a longer range: 311 miles. That figure is in line with what Tesla is promising for its upcoming Model Y, and beats the 282 miles of our 2019 Car of the Year, the Kia e-Niro.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron prototype front action

As for what you’ll achieve in the real world, that will obviously be dependent on the type of driving you do, and traffic and weather conditions, but it’s worth noting that the e-Niro managed 251 miles when we put it through our Real Range test.

As its name suggests, the Q4 Sportback e-tron is sized between the Q3 and Q5 in terms of overall length. However, thanks to the small size of its motors and the fact that its batteries are positioned beneath its floor, it should offer more leg room and luggage space than both of them.

The dashboard is dominated by a 12.3in infotainment touchscreen, which is angled towards the driver in an effort to make it easier to use. What’s more, it’s complemented by a large head-up display which is said to include a new augmented reality function that can superimposes computer-generated images, such as directional arrows for turning, directly on the course of the road.

Instead of the distracting dual-touchscreen layout found on many of the latest Audis, the Q4 Sportback e-tron has a strip of physical buttons for controlling its air conditioning. But slightly worryingly, the buttons on the steering wheel have been replaced by tough-sensitive pads that might be harder to find without taking your eyes off the road

Given that the centre console doesn’t need to contain functional elements such as a gearlever or handbrake, the whole thing has been turned into a spacious storage area.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron prototype dashboard

Audi isn’t always in the vanguard when it comes to new automotive trends, but once it has seen the way the wind is blowing, boy does it commit.

It didn’t introduce its first SUV, the Q7, until 2005, by which time Mercedes had been selling its M-Class for eight years, while the first electric Audi, the E-tron, came out in 2018 – five years after BMW’s i3. However, the Q4 Sportback e-tron will be its 10th SUV and its fourth electric car.

Audi is also promising to have more than 20 zero-emission models on sale by 2025, with these not only including more SUVs, but lower-slung Sportback hatchbacks and Avant estates. We already know, for example, that the next model after the Q4 Sportback E-tron will be an E-tron GT, based on the Porsche Taycan.

For those who can’t stretch to the Q4, there will be cheaper SUVs from Skoda (the Enyaq) and Volkswagen (the ID 4), which will actually go on sale slightly earlier in 2021 and use the same technology.

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Read more: All the other electric cars coming soon >>