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Audi's Q4 makes electric motoring more accessible to a greater number of user choosers. But is it any good?
LED headlights, 19in alloy wheels, Audi MMI with navigation with 10.1in touchscreen, cloth seats with sport design front seats, heated front seats with four-way electric lumbar support, Virtual Cockpit configurable digital instrument display, three-zone automatic climate control with remote preconditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, traffic sign recognition, swerve assist and turn assist, keyless go.
52kWh (net) 170hp, 77kWh (net) 204hp, 77kWh 299hp
Sport, S Line, Edition 1, Vorsprung
To date, the introduction of electric vehicles in the premium sector has been led by Tesla. Premium on price, less so on quality and with an unrivalled in-house rapid charging network, it's easy to see why technology fans and, more recently, company directors and senior management have been keen to adopt them to minimise tax.
Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have all entered the EV sector since, giving the tech company some competition, and Mercedes-Benz and now Audi have managed to launch cars in a sector not yet occupied by Tesla.
The Audi is the latest to market and offers a choice of two body styles, and three power outputs and range options, with more miles available with more power.
We're familiar with the technology underpinning the Q4 E-Tron. It's the latest vehicle using Volkswagen Group's MEB platform, which has already produced the Volkswagen ID3 and ID4, as well as the Skoda Enyaq. Soon it will also be the basis for the Cupra Born electric car.
For Audi, it means a choice of 170hp or 204hp front-wheel drive variants, or a 299hp Quattro, and the option of SUV or sleeker Sportback profiles.
While Volkswagen has gone for a deliberately different look for its ID electric models, Skoda and Audi seem keen to demonstrate their EVs belong in the existing line-up.
The Q4 E-Tron fits between the Q3 and Q5, both of which now offer plug-in models, but nothing fully electric, and sits alongside the high-end Audi E-Tron SUV and E-Tron GT.
With prices starting at just under £41,000, it's about midway between a 190hp petrol Q3 and the entry point of the Q5 range. Choose a 299hp Q4 E-tron 50 Quattro Vorsprung, though, and the price maxes out at around £65,000 - a slight overlap with the entry point to the E-Tron SUV range.
Audi believes the bestseller will be the 204hp 40 variant, offering a good balance of performance and range for the money. The entry level 170hp 35 has a 52kWh battery and offers up to 208 miles, with 316 miles for the larger capacity 77kWh battery offered on the 40. The 50 Quattro also has the 77kWh battery and uses front and rear electric motors to produce its 299hp, and is expected to offer around 295 miles of range when the WLTP homologation is signed off.
The 52kWh battery can be charged at 100kW, with 125kW permitted for the 77kWh battery. Audi says it's possible for the battery to reach 80% of capacity, from 5%, in less than 40 minutes, or around 60 miles can be added in ten minutes, should a quick top-up be needed.
The Q4 E-Tron offers a 'coasting' mode when the drive selector is in 'D', giving a driving experience that feels similar to an internal combustion engine car. 'B' mode allows extra energy recuperation when lifting off the accelerator pedal, and the steering wheel paddles (standard on Edition 1 and Vorsprung models, and optional on other grades) can be used to configure the level of recuperation. Maximum delivers significant retardation when lifting off and can reduce reliance on the brakes, helping prolong the life of pads.
For those worried about the impact of using the car's systems on range, a heat pump is also available as an option for all versions, rapidly heating and cooling the interior using the thermal losses from the electric components and temperature of the outside air.
The interior looks and feels much like any other Audi, with little in the controls having to be relearned like Volkswagen's ID range.
Despite its SUV profile, it feels agile because of the heavy battery mounted low in the chassis and inspires confidence when driving. Arriving in this sector of the market ahead of BMW and Tesla, as well as offering more choice than the Mercedes-Benz EQA, presents Audi with an opportunity to get user choosers behind the wheel who might not previously have been within reach of a premium EV.