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Used test: Audi Q4 e-tron vs Mercedes EQA interiors

You might be tempted by either of these electric SUVs, with their premium badges and attractive used prices, but which is the better buy?...

New Audi Q4 e-tron dashboard


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

The Mercedes EQA has the more glamorous interior, with an enormous screen that appears to stretch more than halfway across the dashboard. It is, in fact, two 10.0in screens sitting side by side. The one in the middle of the dash controls the infotainment system and the one behind the steering wheel can be configured to display a variety of information, including your speed and remaining range.

Some of our testers found that the EQA’s second screen was partially blocked by the steering wheel, whereas the equivalent in the Audi Q4 e-tron (called the Virtual Cockpit by Audi) works with more driving positions.

Our contenders both have comfortable driving positions in other respects, and in each case, you sit high enough to know that you’re in an SUV rather than just a jacked-up hatchback.

Mercedes EQA interior

You won’t have too much trouble seeing out of the front of either car, although, depending on your driving position, you might find the Q4’s front pillars get in the way a bit too much at junctions and roundabouts. The view out of the back isn’t great in either, but the EQA makes amends with a rearview camera to help with reversing. You can have a camera on the Q4 too, but you better hope the original owner forked out £1295 for the Comfort and Sound Pack for the privilege.

To help you see where you’re going at night, both cars have powerful LED headlights and the EQA’s have high beams that automatically dip themselves to avoid dazzling other drivers. Even more advanced matrix LED headlights are available on the Q4 but, yep, you guessed it: you'd have had to pay extra for them.

New Audi Q4 e-tron infotainment

As car touchscreen systems go, the one in the Q4 isn’t bad. It responds fairly quickly to prods and the operating system is user-friendly. You control the EQA’s set-up by pressing the touchscreen or a large central touchpad that allows you to make inputs with your finger. The touchpad is less distracting when you’re driving, but either way, the system responds quickly.

There isn’t much in it for interior quality and, in a way, that’s a compliment to Mercedes and a criticism of Audi. A few years ago, Audi was head and shoulders above its rival (and just about every other manufacturer) for the plushness of the materials used and the solidity with which they all felt bolted together. Its recent models, including the Q4, are far from cheap-feeling inside, but there is a fair amount of hard and unattractive matt plastic.

Mercedes, meanwhile, has taken a definite step forward in recent years, to the point that we’d say the EQA edges it here.

New Audi Q4 e-tron rear seats

The Q4 e-tron is the bigger car (it’s 123mm longer, 12mm taller and 88mm wider than the EQA), so you won’t be shocked to hear it’s also more practical. That said, you won’t really notice if you’re sitting in the front, where both cars offer even tall people plenty of leg room and space above their heads.

In the back, the differences are more obvious. Six-footers will still fit easily in both, but the Q4 has a few more centimetres of leg room and slightly more head room. Rear passengers also enjoy a more comfortable seating position in the Q4; the high floor in the EQA forces your knees up higher than you’d like.

New Mercedes EQA rear seats

Neither car has any clever tricks, such as sliding or reclining rear seats, although the rear seatbacks in the EQA do split and fold in a 40/20/40 arrangement. That allows you to carry a passenger on either side of the car and slot something long and thin in between them from the boot. The seatbacks in the Q4 split and fold in a more traditional 60/40 arrangement.

Both cars have a powered tailgate as standard, but once opened you’ll find a lot more space in the Q4’s boot. Its load bay is significantly longer and taller, so it’s hardly surprising that it can swallow more carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf. We managed to fit in seven, against the EQA’s five.

There’s a small amount of underfloor storage in the EQA for the charging cable but no height-adjustable boot floor. You can have an adjustable floor in the Q4, but you’ll have to seek out a car that's had the add the Function Package fitted (£325 when new).

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