New Volvo C40 Recharge vs Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: interiors

With their curvaceous roofs and electric power, these coupé-like SUVs are the height of fashion. Let’s see which one will have us singing its praises the loudest...

New Volvo C40 Recharge dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Both of our contenders have fundamentally sound driving positions, with their seats, steering wheels and pedals all lining up neatly. However, the Volvo C40 Recharge perches you farther from the road, so you feel more like you’re driving a ‘proper’ SUV than in the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron.

Don’t go thinking that the C40 has better visibility because of this, though, because it doesn’t. Its raked-back windscreen means the rear-view mirror is mounted lower than it is in the XC40, obscuring your view to the left if you’re tall. And things aren’t much clearer in other directions, with a shallow back window, chunky rear pillars and large head restraints conspiring to hamper your rearward view. At least the C40 comes with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera to help with low-speed manoeuvring.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron dashboard

Visibility is less of a problem in the Q4, thanks to its low window line and copious glass around the rear pillars, although you have to add the Comfort and Sound Pack (£1295) in order to get a rear-view camera and front parking sensors.

Digital instrument panels are standard fare, with a 10.3in screen in front of you in the Q4 and a 12.3in one in the C40. However, this is one instance where bigger isn’t better, because the Q4’s display is easier to read, has a higher definition and offers greater configurability.

The C40 scores some points back for having a slightly plusher interior, though. The places you touch most often tend to be either soft-touch plastics or heavily textured, and all of the buttons are chunky and well damped. The Q4 isn’t too far behind, with solid-feeling trim pieces and stalks that feel reassuringly expensive, but it doesn’t do quite as good a job of hiding its less appealing materials, notably around the centre console.


Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron infotainment

Compared with the touchscreen in a Tesla Model Y, for example, the Q4’s 11.6in unit is relatively understated, but that’s no bad thing. It’s one of the best of its kind, with sharp graphics, crisp responses to inputs and an intuitive menu layout. You get a three-year subscription to Audi’s online services, too. If you’re an audiophile, you’ll want to add the £1295 Comfort and Sound Pack, which includes a more powerful Sonos sound system.

Volvo C40 Recharge

New Volvo C40 Recharge infotainment

Most functions are controlled via the C40’s upright 9.0in touchscreen. This isn’t ideal, because some of the sub-menus can be hard to find and the screen isn’t particularly quick to respond. And while the integrated Google software works fairly well (Google Maps is easy to use, for example), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are better still. Sadly, neither is available now, although Volvo says they are coming in an over-the-air update.

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