Audi Q4 e-tron First Drive Review: Little SUV with Big Space & Sporty Dynamics

Q4 e-tron & Q4 Sportback e-tron

Audi’s Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron are smaller than a Q5, but boast the passenger room of a Q7! They also drive really well.

The Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron represent the next step in Audi’s transition to an all-electric and carbon-neutral future. The luxury arm of the Volkswagen Group is going to be producing stunning gasoline-powered cars and SUVs for quite a while, of course. But the final NEW internal combustion vehicle will debut no later than 2026.

The Q4 e-tron siblings are (and will be) Audi’s most affordable all-electric SUVs. Call them approachable premium. As members of AudiWorld know well, the 2022 Q4 e-tron models have been out for quite some time. But it was a strange model year for a few reasons. First, Audi configured every US-bound unit and sent them off to dealers to sell them (a throwback to the pre-pandemic days). Meaning, customers couldn’t custom-order them. Next, the base drivetrain wasn’t available. And then the Federal Tax Credit went away.

Q4 e-tron & Q4 Sportback e-tron

This has led to some consumer frustrations — as members have discussed and debated in the Q4 section of our forum.

But the great news is that the 2023 model year build & price configurator is live on AudiUSA.com. It’s honestly the best place to learn exact pricing and options for what you want. And you can currently head over to your local Audi dealership to order one. 2023 model year vehicles should start being available in the next few weeks.

What do YOU think of the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron?
Click HERE to join the conversation!

A Quick Disclaimer

Audi invited AudiWorld along with a couple dozen media outlets and influencers to drive the Q4 e-tron in southern California. Audi provided us with hotel and accommodations. Also worth noting, although we were mostly briefed on 2023 Q4s, we drove 2022 models and only had a few hours for testing and driving. So consider this more of a first look than a full review.

2023 Audi Q4 Pricing & Models

Q4 e-tron & Q4 Sportback e-tron

In 2023, Audi plans to offer three different models as well as three trim levels. Naturally, there will be optional packages as well. Every Q4 features an 82kWh battery pack, of which owners have access to about 77kWh. (The extra is left to preserve the overall battery health during the vehicle’s lifespan.)

The Q4 40 e-tron starts at just under $50,000. This rear-wheel-drive configuration boasts 201 horsepower. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, leather seating surfaces, a panoramic sunroof with sunshade, a 10.25″ digital gauge cluster, and an 11.6″ MMI touch display infotainment system with Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Range tops about at 265 miles. It will be available in Premium and Premium Plus trim levels.

NOTE: while the 2022 and 2022 model years are mechanically identical, 2023 models feature a few changes. The largest MMI screen in Audi history — 11.6″ — replaces the smaller 2022 screen (which you’ll see in this review). All Q4 50 models will feature S-line badging. And a few other small changes.

Q4 e-tron

Next up with have the Q4 50 e-tron, which starts at just under $55 grand and can be ordered as a Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim level. Power jumps to 295 horsepower courtesy of a dual motor quattro all-wheel-drive system. Range drops to 236 miles per charge, but these models will hit 60mph in under six seconds. 19″ 5-arm wheels are standard.

Q4 Sportback e-tron

Lastly, the Q4 50 Sportback e-tron starts at just under $58,000 for a no-option Premium model. Premium Plus and Prestige are also available. For those unfamiliar, Sportback SUVs offer a more car-like sloping roofline versus the standard SUV boxy shape. The Sportback shares the same 295 horsepower as the e-tron, but it’s slightly more efficient with 242 miles of range. Sportbacks also feature standard 20″ wheels.

The Tax Credit Question

e-tron

Based on an AudiWorld member question, I asked if there was any talk of adjusting Q4 pricing after the Inflation Reduction Act goes into effect next year.  The context is that the new law requires North American sourced battery materials and assembly to qualify for up to a $7,500 rebate, along with other hurdles like income caps. This means the Q4 will no longer qualify.

What Audi said was that they can’t comment on the pricing and the rebate other than to say what’s on the 2023 Audi.com configurator is the official pricing and that Audi “tends to keep their pricing consistent.” (I took that to mean within a given model year.)

Will the loss of the tax credit, coupled with the Q4’s premium pricing over the Volkswagen ID.4 hurt sales? It’s really hard to say in this market where there’s still more demand than available product. What do you think? Let us know HERE!

Charging

Q4 e-tron

As our testing was limited to a couple of hours on one day, we didn’t get to experience much in terms of real-world charging. But here’s how it breaks down per the manufacturer —

All Q4 variants charge at the same rate and can be charged at up to 150kWh when using DC fast charging. In perfect conditions, this translates to about 36 minutes to go from 5% to 80%. (Charging slows above 80% on most EVs to protect battery life, so it’s costly and slow to charge above 80% on a fast charger.) Audi also includes 250kWh of Electrify America credits so customers can try out DC fast charging for themselves.

4 rings

However, Audi expects that most folks will be charging at home, so they include a charging cable with every Q4. (Side note for those less familiar: some folks refer to these cables as chargers, but EV chargers are actually built into the vehicles themselves.) The included cable is good for 40 amps or 9.6kW which will charge a Q4 from 0% to 100% in 9 hours.

If customers have room to install a wall-mounted box/cable (and in their electrical system), they can install an 11.5kW system which will charge a Q4 from 0% to 100% in 7.5 hours

Interior Amenities (So Much Room for Activities)

Q4 e-tron interior

Stepping into the Q4 is an interesting experience. There are hints of other Audis — a little Q5 in the dash, a little A3 in the gear selector and center console — but at the same time, it’s completely new. For starters, the interior space is surprisingly large for a compact SUV. In context, the Q4 looks more like a Q3 or Q5 on the outside. But inside, it’s like stepping into a Q7 in terms of passenger space.

How is this achieved, you ask? By removing the gasoline-powered drivetrain and quattro components, Audi engineers pushed the electric motors into the front and rear axles. And the battery pack goes into the floor/vehicle structure. Which leaves lots of space for seats. At six-feet tall, I could easily sit behind myself with more room than the SQ5 and the A6 Allroad.

Q4 e-tron cargo space

Cargo space is also surprisingly roomy and the 40-20-40 fold-down rear sitting is a lovely bit of ergonomics for hauling gear.

The technology is all current-gen Audi, with a large customizable digital gauge cluster and the MMI touchscreen infotainment system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, as well as (with certain trims and packages) adjustable interior lighting, a head-up display with Augmented reality, and even customizable daytime running lights.

[No, that’s not a joke. In Prestige models, owners can select one of four different daytime running light configurations. My favorite is the checkered flag, reminiscent of the RS 3 we recently reviewed.]

The only thing I didn’t love was the optional Sonos 10-speaker radio system. It’s not awful by any means, but is a bit harsh up top and a touch muddy on the low end. For best results, I recommend going into the settings and turning off some of the optional processing. And I’d love to see ventilated seats as an option for Premium Plus and Prestige models.

Overall, the Q4 is modern and comfortable and well-equipped.

Regen (4 Modes)

wheels

Before we get into the driving experience, we should talk about the Q4’s multiple regen modes. Like all BEVs, the Q4 e-tron uses regenerative (regen) braking to do most of the vehicle’s deceleration. In short, the electric motors slow the Q4, turning themselves into generators in the process, recouping some of the energy spent on acceleration and maintaining speed.

The result is a mode, or style of driving, called one-pedal driving where — for most of the time — the driver simply presses the accelerator pedal to go, and lifts their foot to slow. The traditional hydraulic brakes are, therefore, preserved for emergency stops and, as we experienced, full stops at red lights.

One-pedal driving is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it experience. Some folks find regen braking too aggressive at times… Which is why Audi smartly added four different levels of regen. In standard Drive mode, one can adjust from zero to moderate regen using the steering wheel’s paddle shifters. And there’s a B mode, on the transmission gear selector, that’s the most aggressive (and therefore most efficient).

q4 interior

I mostly drove in B mode and it feels like the engine braking on a high-end sports car while driving on a track. Overall, I enjoy one-pedal driving, but I did come away with two concerns —

  • The standard hydraulic brake pedal feels VERY squishy, which isn’t particularly inspiring.
  • And, unlike some other EVs, Q4 regen doesn’t stop the vehicle fully, instead allowing the vehicle to coast at approximately two mph. To be fair, some folks might like this approach, which is closer to a conventional car. But other EVs tend to regen all the way to a full stop.

Driving Dynamics

Q4 at the beach

What does Audi mean to you? How do you define the brand and its vehicles? For me, I think of three things. Strong visual designs. Luxurious, ergonomic interiors. And sporty driving dynamics. To be fair, I spend most of my time in the S and RS world, so I’m a bit spoiled. But that performance heritage trickles into the rest of the company’s vehicles. Case in point, the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron.

As with all EVs, they’re a little heavy at around 4,800 pounds. But the secret sauce is in the low center of gravity. The heaviest part of the SUV? That battery? Yeah, it’s in the floor. So the Q4 dips and dives into corners with lots of balance and a surprising amount of grip, making it feel more like a 4,000 lb. SUV.

Q4 e-tron

Toss in 295 horsepower and 339 ft.-lbs. of instant torque, and it’s very zippy as well. Not fast in a world where the RS6 Avant exists (or even compared to the SQ5). But the power-to-weight ratio is quite good and the Q4’s sub-6-second 0-60 time is a spec sports cars from back in the day would have been happy to hit. Steering feels a bit numb, but it’s direct, and the wheel’s light in the hand. Bursts of quick acceleration are fun — especially at stoplights and highway passing — but again, this isn’t an overly fast car. Which I’d argue is a great thing for first-time EV buyers. This is an SUV where you can have a bit of fun, but it’s not going to kill you.

In short, the Q4 offers a dynamic driving experience that feels very sporty at times. But also one that can be driven slowly and gently without any sense of compromise. Well done, Audi.

Quirks and Bugs

Q4 interior

As with any step forward, sometimes engineers go too far (or not far enough). In that sense, I encountered a few features one could describe as quirky, buggy, or frustrating. Not deal-killers, mind you. Just little things I hope to see evolve and improve.

First, I’d like to see more Apple CarPlay integration on the driver’s gauge cluster. Overall, CarPlay works wonders on the MMI screen, but lacks the ability to place Apple Maps direction onto the gauges or head-up display. To be fair, Audi is debating the issue internally, but cites privacy concerns (for Audi and the customers) about letting Apple intrude too far into the system. As someone who reviews lots of Fords that do integrate CarPlay more fully, it’s a nice feature for customers.

And although Audi’s nav system has come a long way over the years, I’d argue Apple’s system is a little better.

MMI display

Speaking of the head-up display, let’s talk about its “augmented reality.” Not only does the head-up display show data like vehicle speed, and local speed limits, but it also projects objects (like arrows and such) onto the windshield to help with navigation. (It’s actually a similar idea to what Audi can do with Matrix LED headlights in other parts of the world.)

The goal is to keep the driver’s eyes on the road as much as possible.

The problem, in this iteration at least, is that it’s clunky and hard to see in the bright sunlight. Other journalists reported seeing random dot shapes during their drives. I didn’t, but couldn’t understand why an arrow had to fly around in my vision when I was driving straight through an intersection. This… needs some more development.

And if you’re wearing sunglasses, like all HUDs across most brands, polarization makes HUD reflections impossible to see in the windshield. We should probably revisit this topic at night.

Audi light

Lastly, one of our members recently asked a question about why the Q4 turns itself off when put into Park. For reference, the Q4 also powers down anytime a driver gets out of their seat (there’s a sensor).

Audi’s goal was to make life easier. Simply get in and put the SUV in gear and go. Or, simply exit the vehicle to turn everything off.

The annoyance, for a feature that can’t be turned off as I write this, is systems one might want to keep running — air conditioning and the radio come to mind — also power down, which can be disruptive. For me, I needed to photograph the Q4’s interior with the dash on. Or pop out of the car to take a photograph on the road. So one can imagine how stopping to pick up curbside goods, grabbing the mail, or all sorts of little daily activities could be interrupted by the need to press a bunch of buttons and then wait for settings to restart and phones to reconnect.

Final Thoughts

Audi Q4 e-trons

Although evaluation time was short — and limited to the outgoing model year — I’ve come away with mostly positive Q4 e-tron impressions. As our members pointed out, there are a handful of frustrating quirks and missing features. But overall, the Q4 is a terrific mix of smart internal ergonomics, modern technology, and a sporty driving signature.

The only real questions left to debate, I’d argue, are price and range.

Is this vehicle worth a premium over the Volkswagen ID.4? (Which I’ve yet to drive, so I can’t help in that regard, sorry.) And do you drive, say, under about 200 miles per day and have access to at-home charging?

If that range fits your needs, the Q4 is a terrific little SUV that feels quite big on the inside.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron Quick Specs

Audi e-tron lineup

Q4 40 e-tron

  • Base MSRP (including destination & delivery): $50K
  • Horsepower: 201
  • Range (miles): 265
  • MPGe (city/highway/combined): 112 / 94 / 103
  • Rear-wheel-drive
  • DC fast charging 5%-80%: 36 minutes
  • Trim Levels: Premium, Premium Plus

Q4 50 e-tron

  • Base MSRP (including destination & delivery): $55K
  • Horsepower: 295
  • Range (miles): 236
  • MPGe (city/highway/combined): 97 / 87 / 93
  • Quattro all-wheel-drive
  • DC fast charging 5%-80%: 36 minutes
  • Trim Levels: Premium, Premium Plus, Prestige

Q4 50 Sportback e-tron

  • Base MSRP (including destination & delivery): $58K
  • Horsepower: 295
  • Range (miles): 242
  • MPGe (city/highway/combined): 100 / 89 / 95
  • Quattro all-wheel-drive
  • DC fast charging 5%-80%: 36 minutes
  • Trim Levels: Premium, Premium Plus, Prestige

Father. Writer. Photographer. Auto enthusiast.
Current Stable: 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302, 2013 Cadillac ATS-4 3.6, LS3-Swapped 1992 Buick Roadmaster Wagon, 1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7, and usually a Press Loaner.

Top Five Audi Cars from the 1970s

Audi 100 Coupe

The Audi 100 sedan first appeared in 1970 and established a beachhead for Audi in the U.S. The strategy of positioning the 100 as a reasonably priced, upscale car with advanced features like front-wheel drive, disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering paid off in spades. It sold well, peaking at over 31K units in 1973. Most importantly, it cut a sizeable chunk out of Mercedes-Benz’s market share.

Mark Webb is fascinated by anything automotive and particularly loves cars that are unusual or have a good story. He’s owned a variety of cars from 60’s muscle, Japanese imports, and oddities like a VW Thing and Porsche 924. After 20 years in the automotive and tech industries, he’s a walking encyclopedia of car info and is always on the lookout for his next project or a good road trip.

Record-high tool theft from vans

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Car crime vehicle theft

Tool theft has soared in the last 12 months with more than a third of van drivers falling victim – up from a quarter the year before, according to a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

The average value of equipment stored per van stands at £2,500, which means UK tradespeople are footing a £4.4 billion bill for replacement tools every year.

In addition, the study found that when tools are stolen, it stops work for six days on average, causing UK businesses to lose a staggering £5.2 billion annually.

An increase in the number of van drivers leaving tools in their vehicles overnight, with three-quarters admitting to doing so compared to less than half in 2020, has created more opportunity for thieves. And just half of van drivers are taking extra precautions such as additional alarms, locks, and vehicle trackers.

While London remains the UK’s biggest tool-theft hotspot, the rate has reduced to 47% of van drivers from 55% in the previous year. That’s in contrast to Scotland (45%), the North West (41%) and North East (40%), which have recorded huge surges in tool theft in the past year. The South East is the area where van drivers are least likely to fall victim to a break-in.

Percentage of van drivers with tools or equipment stolen in the past year
Region 2021/22 2020/21
London 47% 55%
Scotland 45% 22%
North West 41% 25%
North East 40% 28%
Yorkshire and the Humber 38% 7%
Wales 36% 4%
West Midlands 36% 33%
Northern Ireland 35% 13%
East Anglia 33% 23%
East Midlands 32% 15%
South West 32% 10%
South East 28% 17%

“We’re shocked to see that cases have risen so much in the past year, as we know the impact on businesses and workers is massive,” said David Hanna, Head of Direct Sales at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

“Hopefully, these findings will prompt those with expensive equipment to take extra precautions, whether that’s additional security features on their vans, avoiding parking in secluded, poorly-lit areas, or taking an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day to unload their vans.”

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Updated Audi e-tron Hits the Road for the E-Cannonball Rally

2023 Audi e-tron

At this point, we don’t know exactly when the next Audi e-tron will debut. But we do the sheet metal has been tweaked.

It’s almost hard to believe, but the Audi e-tron has been on sale for almost five years — and that means it’s time for a through update. At this point, Ingolstadt isn’t quite ready to show off the latest version, but it did let a pre-production prototype out to play for Germany’s E-Cannonball. And while the e-tron in question was wearing a white, black, and orange livery, eagle-eyed folks can notice some changes from the model currently in Audi showrooms.

Most notably, we’re looking at revised fascias front and rear, and it also appears the newest models with be getting updated wheels. That said, Audi has been on a path of constant improvement with the e-tron since its release. For the 2021 model year, we saw a range increase of 18 miles, with meant that drivers could aim for a range of 222 miles on a full charge. Last year saw arrival of the performance-oriented e-tron S, which boasts three motors and 496 horsepower. For those keeping score, that’s 94 more ponies than the standard model.

Aside from the visual changes which are obvious from the teaser photos, everything else is speculation. But the smart money says that while we might not see a huge increase in available power, we’ll likely see a robust improvement to the range. Because while 222 miles is perfectly serviceable for the needs of many folks, especially those with at-home charging, automakers have long targeted internal-combustion vehicles to have a 300-mile range between fill ups. So that’s likely what we’ll see here.

One question that insiders are asking if whether this latest update will keep the e-tron moniker, or be changed to the Q8 e-tron. An all-new electric Q8 is already planned for production in 2026, so as Audi continues its transition to a fully electric lineup, it would make sense to start folding the electric vehicles into the company’s standard nomenclature.

Of course, the ongoing supply chain issues, not to mention the delays with Audi’s forthcoming flagship mean timetables have to be more flexible than the brass would like. Since 2023 is just around the corner, we should have pictures of the production version within the next month or so, along with specs on exactly what work the engineers have done under the skin. Stay tuned!

Photos: Audi

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Young drivers putting brakes on car maintenance

Young driver - IAM RoadSmart

New research claims that more than three-quarters of motorists aged 18-34 have delayed key vehicle checks to save money.

As drivers battle the cost of living crisis, data commissioned by the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, also shows almost a third (28%) of younger drivers have held off their annual car service and 30% have put off changing their oil.

Key tyre checks have also been put on hold, with 30% of younger drivers surveyed also admitting putting off fixing a puncture, and 28% delaying changing tyres with low tread.

But it’s not just younger drivers who are making tough choices on car upkeep. The data also found that 15% of all drivers, of all ages, said their annual car service is on the backburner thanks to the rise in living costs, with 11% avoiding paying out for necessary tyre changes.

Which of the following repairs/improvements have you put off/delayed making to your car as a result of the cost-of-living crisis?
Total Total (all ages) 18-34
Service 15% 28%
Tyre change, eg replacing a tyre with low tread 11% 28%
Tyre repair, eg fixing a puncture 7% 22%
Oil change 9% 30%
None of these 61% 21%

“This study shows that drivers are already making difficult choices about what they can and cannot afford, which could negatively impact the environment, their safety and the safety of other road users.” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

“Servicing doesn’t just look good in a log book, it’s there for a reason, and can pick up a range of issues which could present safety risks to drivers, if not spotted.

“It also ensures that your car’s engine is running as efficiently as possible, so ignoring servicing guidelines could cost you more in the long run in repairs or increased fuel consumption.

“Likewise, tyre health has a hugely important role to play in car and road safety. Tyres with low-tread depth have less road grip, and might be illegal, so it is of concern that motorists are sadly having to put off these vital repairs.

“There is no doubt that as living costs rise, motorists are feeling the squeeze, but we urge drivers to consider the safety implications of avoiding vital repairs, especially any which may be a legal requirement and could lead to more expensive costs down the line – or worse, risking their lives or other road users. Key behaviour changes, such as driving more economically to reduce fuel consumption, can be a way to cut costs without cutting safety.”