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Deserves the Audi Q4 e-tron to be a Swiss Top-3 selling electric car?

The Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron is the equivalent of the Škoda Enyaq Coupe RS iV, which I was able to test extensively for a week in February of this year. The Q4 e-tron 50 marks the top model of the Q4 series with 200kW/ 299hp. The variant presented here is the SUV coupe variant called Sportback.

What are we looking at

The Audi Q4 Sportbrake 50 e-tron quattro has a base price of CHF 63,800. It is therefore around CHF 2,000 more expensive than its Czech brother from Škoda. The Audi is painted in typhoon gray metallic (CHF 920.- optional) and has the black and rock gray interior.

Other options include the panoramic glass roof for CHF 1,710, the 21-inch 5-spoke Rotor Evo wheels for CHF 1,750, the S-Line exterior (CHF 1,800), MMI Navigation Pro (CHF 3,810), various assistance and safety packages, inductive charging station, some comfort packages and many other options that add up to a total of over CHF 92,000. Spending an almost six-figure sum for a mid-size SUV must be intentional. Especially since an almost fully equipped Skoda Enyaq costs a little over CHF 70,000 and basically offers the same thing.

First Impressions

The Audi Q4 Sportback has two faces; The sharply cut front, as known from the Audi family. Despite a lot of closed surface, the imitated single frame is creatively designed with a suggested mesh structure. The side lines are elegant and self-confident, as is typical for Audi. Further around the rear, the car surprises with an unusual design language that, with its round shape, doesn't fit the front at all. The strange spoiler lip of the apparently sporty rear spoiler is reminiscent of the Audi A2 and impairs the view to the rear. The Škoda design team did their homework much better. As is now common with many manufacturers, the Q4 also has a long-lasting light show after unlocking the vehicle. Gimmicks that you could actually save yourself. Or did I miss something there?

Driving Impressions

Start button? Could have been built in as a physical button but didn't do it. The Q4 E-Tron is hipper: Its seat occupancy sensors release the ignition as soon as a person with a key in their pocket occupies the driver's seat. The control units then boot up without pressing a button and the four Audi rings in the instruments indicate that the SUV is ready to go. The sensors work extremely reliably as long as you don't want to leave the ignition switched on, for example to clear the windscreen of ice in winter. If the driver's seat is not occupied, the car cannot provide support with the windscreen heater. Obviously, not all scenarios had to be played through during development...

In any case, the Audi Q4 Sportback 50 e-tron is advertised as a sporty SUV coupe. However, if you drive briskly in an alpine environment, the weight of the vehicle is clearly noticeable and understeering with the subsequent intervention of traction control can occur in tight corners. The optional progressive steering enables a variable ratio depending on the steering angle and speed-dependent steering assistance, which is also noticeable and works very well. Only this is a bit too indirect and has a noticeable delay moment. The brake feel, on the other hand, is very "blind" and difficult to assess as soon as the deceleration is stronger than the recuperation. The braking support of the brake discs can be perceived with an unpleasant jerking. Although the Polestar 2 Performance has stronger acceleration and recuperation, it has exactly the same problem with heavy braking. In comparison, however, it can be moved much more light-footedly.

It is advisable to switch off the lane departure warning system when driving quickly and with lots of bends. He seems like he wants to be the alpha animal in the stable and often intervenes in a nerve-wracking manner. It seems as if the car manufacturer no longer trusts us to be able to drive a car.

Audi states that the Q4 Sportback e-tron consumes between 16.2-19.7kWh/100km. When driving really economically, I even reached values ​​minimum under 15kWh/100km. Compared to other electric vehicles, that's a compelling value, especially when you consider that you're moving a car that weighs over 2.2 tons. Audi obviously did a great job here and put together an efficient Audi. In a nutshell, it can be said that the Audi Q4 can be driven economically, quietly and over a long distance, despite powerful acceleration that hardly slows down. And as long as no strong braking command has to be executed, the recuperation works as desired. So the Audi Q4 Sportback is more of a touring car that sits higher up than a sporty coupé.

To the interior

Compared to the Škoda, the interior of the Audi is much more futuristic. The slightly hexagonal steering wheel, which by the way lies sensationally in the hand, and the non-existent center tunnel, which now offers many storage options for a wide variety of things, immediately catch the eye.

Again briefly to the optional steering wheel with the shift paddles. Shift paddles in an electric car? You read that right. The strength of the recuperation can be set in three stages using the rockers. Clever and takes some getting used to. I personally prefer the one pedal drive.

Unlike the VW, there are outsourced buttons for operating the air conditioning in the Audi; but without the MMI rotary pushbutton of the past Audi days including buttons for main menus, touch operation is quite complex. Fortunately, a lot can be done via voice input. However, real buttons on the steering wheel would be desirable, because the current touch operation of the steering wheel is not really intuitive and does not work 100% according to personal taste.

The trunk has a volume of around 520 liters. For comparison: 520 liters of luggage also fit into the trunk of a Fiat Tipo with a notchback. It should also be mentioned that the small Italian is a compact sedan and not an SUV.

The charging cable can be supplied under the height-adjustable loading floor. However, it would be stowed away out of reach on holiday trips with a full load. There is no extra storage space under the front hood. That means: Before loading, remove the intermediate floor from the car and only load it afterwards. The charging cable must then find a place at the top or in the passenger compartment.

However, the hooks in the trunk for shopping bags help in everyday life; they were formed from the sidewall and are sharp-edged. Sharp-edged plastics can also be found in the interior, for example in the door pockets. Even if these are not in the primary field of vision, a premium claim should go beyond the first glance. In the footwell you can usually find cheap plastic panels. Less than in the Škoda Enyaq, but still too much for the premium segment. The cockpit itself is futuristic and inclined towards the driver, which simplifies operation. It is to be welcomed that specific functions such as windscreen heating or seat heating can be found below the screen and you do not have to look for them on the screen in the menus as with other manufacturers.

What to buy

In my opinion, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is too expensive in terms of cost-benefit. Especially if you as a customer opt for a few options and accessories that are not really necessary, the total price quickly turns out to be very high. My recommendation is therefore the regular Audi Q4 e-tron, if you really want an electric Audi with a high seating position and prestige image. Or one who simply likes the Audi. For me, the regular Q4 looks more harmonious and convincing in its proportions. In addition, it offers a more usable interior for a purchase price of CHF 2,000 lower in the basic version of the e-tron 50 engine.

Even if the Audi is comparatively more economical to drive than a Polestar 2, I recommend that interested parties take a closer look at the Polestar 2. For me, the Swede still sets the bar high for electric crossovers. Otherwise, the BMW i4 offers the same utility as the Audi Q4 Sportback 50 e-tron and the i4 eDrive40 version with some optional equipment costs the same as the Q4 test car.

To end this review, I wanted to thank Audi Switzerland for their kindness to let me test-drive their Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron 50 they had in their press-car-fleet. A car, that looks especially great from the 3/4-angle (almost side angle). Otherwise, it sometimes can show some weird and unusual proportions, especially for an Audi.

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