Audi Q4 e-tron review

Audi Q4 e-tron review

We get behind the wheel of the Q4 e-tron – Audi’s entry-level, all-electric car…

Launched in 2021, the Audi Q4 e-tron battles it out in the hugely competitive mid-sized SUV sector.

Its many rivals include the Tesla Model Y, Kia EV6, BMW iX1, Mercedes-Benz EQB, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Priced from £51,325, it also competes with its Volkswagen Group cousins (they share the same platform) – the Skoda Enyaq and VW ID.5.

Available in both SUV and sleeker Sportback versions, the Q4 e-tron comes with a 76.6kWh battery and two power levels – the ’40’ (rear-wheel drive single electric motor) or the top-spec ’50’ quattro (two electric motors driving all four wheels).

The ’40’ delivers 201bhp and accelerates from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds, while the ’50’ has 295bhp on tap and can hit 62mph in 6.2 seconds.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Both versions have a 135kW charge capacity, which can get you from 5% to 80% in as little 29 minutes. Like all EVs, it will also charge up overnight if you have a home wallbox.

Depending on body style and power output, the Q4 e-tron has a claimed range of 292 – 328 miles.

Naturally, the Q4 e-tron is generously equipped, but as ever with Audi, there’s still a lengthy list of options, plus three packs (Technology, Technology Pro and Safety Package Plus) in addition to the basic three trim levels (Sport, S Line and Black Edition).

Audi Q4 e-tron review

We road tested the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 quattro in S Line trim. Our car was a Sportback, which is mechanically identical to the more conventional SUV version, except for the sharply raked roofline for extra kerb appeal. Perhaps more importantly, its slippery body also delivers a slightly longer range.

Inside it’s very Audi. In other words, it’s a combination of top build quality, state-of-the-art tech, comfort and space.

As with all SUVs, there’s a high driving position, while the dashboard layout is refreshingly conventional with a user-friendly blend of 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, a 11.6-inch central touchscreen, separate (physical) climate controls and a multifunction steering wheel.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Audi’s infotainment system is as slick as ever. What’s more, it uses ‘haptic feedback’ (there’s a slight clicking sensation when you touch it), which is much better than the frustrating touch-sensitive system used by other VW Group brands such as Volkswagen and Seat.

Visibility is good and where there are deficiencies, the multitude of cameras and sensors make up for it. Oh, and kudos to Audi for sticking with a rear wiper, an essential missing from competitors such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

On the road, the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 quattro may not be as blisteringly fast in a straight line as some rivals, but it’s still swift enough for everyday driving.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

The ride is a tad stiff, but even so, it manages to stay comfortable and refined with very little wind and road noise making it into the cabin.

In fact, our test car – which was fitted with 20-inch wheels and optional adaptive suspension – only got caught out on poorer surfaces.

The Q4 disguises its weight well, for a fairly heavy car (more than two tonnes), thanks to a low centre of gravity, but also light and accurate steering with a reasonably tight turning circle. It’s only when stopping from speed that you sense how hard the brakes are working.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Push it on more challenging roads and it would be a stretch to call it the most engaging of drives, but at least it manages to remain relatively flat in faster corners, plus it grips well and traction is excellent.

There are various drive modes (Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual) and selecting Dynamic does make it feel slightly sharper and more responsive, but that’s as far as it goes.

We also like the way you can also adjust the level of brake regeneration via the paddles on the steering wheel, plus there’s a B-mode on the gear selector, for maximising energy recuperation.

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Based on a week of mixed driving, we’d estimate our Q4 e-tron has a real-world range of around 270 miles. However, if you opt for the entry level model, your range is likely to be closer to 230 miles.

The Q4 e-tron’s interior is spacious and there’s enough room for six-footers to sit comfortably in the rear which isn’t always the case with sportier SUVs.

Add 535 litres of luggage space in the boot (15 litres more than the SUV version) and 1,460 litres with the rear seats folded, and it’s a very practical proposition.

Finally, and as with most modern EVs, the Q4 e-tron is loaded with the latest technology and solidly built, achieving a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s crash tests.

Verdict: Handsome, comfortable, practical and easy to drive, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron oozes badge appeal and is one of the best 100% electric SUVs in its sector.

Audi UK

Audi Q4 e-tron review

Smart #1 review

Smart #1 review

We get up to speed with the first of a new generation of Smart cars – the awkwardly-titled #1…

The Smart #1 compact SUV is the first fruit of a new joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese giant Geely, which also owns Volvo, Polestar and Lotus.

Sharing a platform with the upcoming Volvo EX30, the #1 (pronounced ‘hashtag one’) is a class act and about the same size as a MINI Countryman, Volkswagen ID.3 or Peugeot 2008.

Smart #1 review

Clearly a departure from the iconic city car, the Fortwo, the #1 is likely to transform Smart into a serious player in the EV sector.

Of course, it’s no stranger to electric vehicles. An EV version of the Fortwo was first introduced way back in 2008 and the Smart range has been 100% electric since 2019.

Already crowned Best Small SUV at 2023 What Car? EV Awards, the boldly styled #1 is distinctive, though its rear has a hint of a scaled down Mercedes-Benz EQB.

Smart #1 review

There’s also plenty of scope for personalisation with a wide range of colour and ‘floating’ roof colour combinations.

The clever design continues inside the surprisingly spacious cabin where there’s a quality, slightly quirky feel, and it’s loaded with tech.

As is the trend (unfortunately), the Smart #1 is minimalist up front with just about everything controlled via the 12.8-inch central infotainment screen (Apple CarPlay is integrated, but Android Auto is yet to come).

Smart #1 review

Additionally, all Smart #1s also get a slim 9.2-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster for info such as speed, plus a head-up display is also available on more expensive models.

Thankfully, there are useful shortcuts along the bottom of the main touchscreen, for essentials such as climate control, but you can’t even adjust the wing mirrors without having to access the touchscreen.

On the plus side, the menu structure is intuitive and the screen is responsive. What’s more, the system will save your profile, so it will remember your individual settings every time you drive the car.

Smart #1 review

Personalising settings takes a while, but once you switched off irritating things like Driver Exhaustion Alert, Steering Wheel Re-Centring and Lane Assist, you’re well on your way.

Oh, and there’s also an animated fox lurking on the infotainment screen. It’s a fun face for the voice assistant, and you’ll either find it cute or annoying.

Awarded a maximum five stars in crash testing by Euro NCAP, the #1 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance systems.

Smart says the #1 has the same interior space as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and I don’t doubt it for a moment. There’s plenty of head and leg room throughout and the 60:40 split rear seats recline and slide backwards and forwards.

Smart #1 review

Boot capacity is not best-in-class, ranging between 273 – 411 litres (up to 986 litres with the rear seats flipped), though there is a tiny 15-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet.

Competitively priced from £35,950, there are two Smart #1 specs (Pro and Premium) and both get a 66kWh battery pack and a 268bhp motor that drives the rear wheels with 253lb-ft of torque.

Pro models get a reasonable 260-mile range, while Premium is capable of up to 273 miles thanks to the addition of a heat pump and other tech tweaks.

Smart #1 review

Both accelerate from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds, while 150kW charging speed means a 10-80% top-up takes as little as 30 minutes.

The Smart #1 is rapid enough as it is, but if you want serious performance, then opt for the range-topping Brabus #1.

Starting at £43,450, this hot all-wheel drive version gets an extra electric motor, develops a huge 422bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in a savagely fast 3.9 seconds. The downside is that the range in the heavier Brabus #1 drops to 248 miles.

Smart #1 review

We tested the Smart #1 Premium and it’s swift, smooth and refined with some of the best road manners in its class. The ride is on the firm side, but it still manages to iron out all but the poorest of surfaces, while wind and road noise are well contained.

Staying surprisingly flat in faster corners, it hides its 1,800kg weight well. Grip levels are impressive too, though it could get a little playful if you floor it in the wet.

It feels especially agile in town, and thanks to a tight turning circle of 11 metres and good visibility, it’s easy to manoeuvre.

Smart #1 review

The Smart #1 is fun on faster, twisty roads, but at its best cruising smoothly.

You can choose between three driving modes – Eco, Comfort and Sport. As ever, Comfort is best for everyday driving. In fact, only throttle response, steering weight and the regenerative brake level are altered anyway.

Like many EVs, the brakes aren’t the most progressive, and the brake regen was a tad fierce for my liking.

Talking of gripes, the driving position is on the high side, but then that’s generally the case with SUVs – particularly electric ones with a battery pack underneath.

Smart #1 review

It’s hard to assess the Smart #1’s real-world range based on a day of driving, but it held its charge well and at least 200 miles would be a reasonable expectation – maybe closer to 240-250 miles in the city.

So, while it may not have a 300-mile range, it’s quick to charge, which means that longer journeys are still a realistic proposition. That said, I suspect the majority of #1s will spend most of their time in urban environments anyway.

Finally, the Smart #1 comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, plus an Integrated Service Package which includes maintenance and MOT, and vehicle wear and tear items for three years/30,000 miles.

Verdict: The Smart #1 small SUV is one of our favourite EVs in the £35-£40,000 price bracket. Swift, spacious and safe, it has a classy, funky feel and delivers an engaging drive.

Smart UK

Abarth 500e review

Abarth 500e review

Is the Abarth 500e a proper electric pocket rocket? We get behind the wheel to find out…

If you’ve ever driven or heard one of the Abarth-tuned Fiat 500s over the years, you’ll know that they are cars that bombard the senses.

Not only do they look suitably sporty, they drive like go-karts and the aggressive exhaust note is like no other small car on the road.

Abarth 500e review

Offered as a hatch or convertible (more like a cabio), the Abarth 500e is the brand’s first fully electric car.

Priced from £34,195 and based on the Fiat 500e city car, the Abarth version certainly looks the part.

Up front there’s a deeper front bumper, there are bigger side skirts and wider wheel arches down the side, while a large roof spoiler and meaty bumpers adorn the rear.

Abarth 500e review

Thanks to a wider track and lower sports suspension, the Abarth 500e’s stance is more athletic too.

Then to top it off, there’s a choice of five colours, each with cool names – Antidote White, Venom Black, Adrenaline Red, Acid Green and Poison Blue (the latter two are especially vibrant), plus a smattering of scorpion badging.

Inside there’s a new flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara, plus sports seats. You also get the same (much improved) 10.25-inch touchscreen from the flagship 500e as standard (featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), plus a 7.0-inch digital driver’s display.

Abarth 500e review

I tested the top-of-the-range Turismo model in both hatch and soft-top body styles. The driving position is (thankfully) lower than the Fiat 500e, while the body-hugging seats are comfortable and supportive.

Underneath the Abarth’s pumped-up bodywork you’ll find the same 42.2kWh battery that powers the standard Fiat 500e, though it is now paired with a more powerful 152bhp electric motor driving the front wheels.

However, the first surprise is that it’s swift rather than blisteringly fast off the line, unlike some other EVs. With a 0-62mph time of 7.0 seconds, it’s only a fraction quicker than a petrol Abarth 595, though instant torque makes it feel faster because it’s also a second faster from 25-37mph.

Abarth 500e review

The downside of this power boost is that the Abarth’s takes a hit compared to the Fiat 500e, which on paper can manage up to 199 miles on a full charge.

For the record, the hatch has a 164-mile range, while the cabrio is up to 157 miles. In other words, the Abarth 500e is very much in urban territory, along with other EV rivals including the MINI Electric, Honda e and Mazda MX-30.

Just like the Fiat 500e, the Abarth can charge at up to 85kW, meaning you can top up 80% in 35 minutes, or in other words, you can add around 25 miles of range in five minutes.

Abarth 500e review

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Fiat 500e, but for me its weakest point is that it’s not quite as agile as it looks when pushed, so how does the Abarth stack up on the road?

Well, it certainly goes a long way to sort that issue. For instance, there’s sharper steering, which makes the car turn in more keenly.

The ride is on the firm side, but don’t worry, it’s not anywhere near as bad as Abarth 595/695s of old that used to crash over potholes.

Abarth 500e review

For the most part, the Abarth 500e feels composed, there’s plenty of grip, and body lean is kept in check on more challenging roads.

The brakes are effective, if slightly aggressive at times (unusually for reasonably-priced EV, it has discs all round). Go for it on faster, twisty roads and you’ll have the confidence to push on.

You can also choose from three drive modes – Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track. The first is more comfort-orientated, limiting power and delivering more regenerative braking via one-pedal driving around town. Scorpion Street keeps the regen but adds full power, while Track is all about performance.

Abarth 500e review

Personally, I found the regenerative braking a tad too fierce. What’s more, the settings only change with the drive mode, so there are no paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the regen, which always work better.

Overall, the Abarth 500e is settled and predictable, but I’d stop short of calling it thrilling.

For now, my benchmark urban hot hatch remains the road-going go-kart that is the MINI Electric.

Abarth 500e review

However, there’s one area where the Abarth 500e beats its rivals hands down. Its party piece is a sound generator which reproduces the exhaust note of a petrol-powered Abarth.

More than 6,000 hours was spent analysing and creating the perfect sound, and the end result certainly adds to the fun aesthetic of the car.

Unfortunately, the novelty wears off on longer runs and it’s more relaxing to switch off the drone (which sounds like an engine stuck in third gear) and enjoy the refinement that only an EV can offer.

Abarth 500e - Gareth Herincx

Irritatingly, you can only disengage it via the fiddly digital driver’s display – and the car has to be stationary. Apparently, Abarth is already looking into ways to make the process easier.

From a practicality point of view, the Abarth 500e is a mixed bag. Fantastic though the front seats are, they are bulkier than the Fiat’s and eat further into the already tight rear space. All but the smallest children would struggle to sit in the back.

Luggage capacity is limited too. There’s just 185 litres with the rear seats up, or 550 litres with them folded down. And on a personal note, I found I couldn’t rest my left foot comfortably.

Abarth 500e review

There’s virtually no difference between the hatch and convertible on the road, despite the latter being a tad heavier (25kg).

The slick electric hood mechanism can be opened and closed on the move, and apart from a slight loss of cabin refinement, it’s much the same as the hatchback.

Verdict: The Abarth 500e is an entertaining EV debut from Fiat’s sporty sister brand. There’s definitely still space for a hotter version, but for now this swift urban runabout offers a fun blend of good looks, driver engagement and everyday comfort.

Abarth Cars UK

73 plate countdown: 12 new car buying tips

New car buying tips - The Motor Ombudsman

With the imminent arrival of the new 73 registration” plate on September 1, The Motor Ombudsman is offering consumers a series of handy tips when buying a new car

The 12 key points include the importance of doing research, budgeting for longer term affordability, and reading documentation carefully prior to purchase:

Shop around and take a test drive
Spending time doing your research online and visiting showrooms can pay off, as the choice of models and fuel types available from manufacturers, which each offer their own merits and driving experiences, has grown in recent years. Once you have a shortlist of cars that are suitable for your requirements and budget, take a test drive to get practical experience of what they will be like to use on a day-to-day basis.

Emissions influence payable road tax
A car’s CO2 emissions determine the rate of vehicle excise duty (road tax) that you will need to pay during ownership of the vehicle, and this often rises every year. Electric vehicles are exempt until April 2025, but self-charging and plug-in hybrids are not, although these will be at the lower end of the scale in terms of tax due. There are plenty of online resources and the manufacturer’s vehicle specification itself to check what band your preferred car will be subject to.

Virtual vehicle purchases are classed as “distance sales”
Buying a new car online from start to finish over the phone or the web without physically visiting retail premises at any point during the purchase of a car is classed as a “distance sale”. The legislation that governs this type of transaction is the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which offers other rights to those found in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. For example, when buying a vehicle on the internet, you have two weeks to return the car from the date of delivery if you change your mind, but it is important to bear in mind that there may be deductions for any usage during the first days of ownership.

Electric vehicles offer buyers more choice than ever
The majority of manufacturers offer fully electric vehicles as part of their model line-up. Plus with new brands coming to the UK, the choice of EVs at different price points is far more extensive than it was only a few years ago. EVs do tend to be more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents, so shop around, speak to current owners about their experiences, read reviews, and try them out for yourself before buying, especially if you are looking to adopt battery-powered motoring for the first time.

Never buy a car without doing your homework
Spend time doing your research to find the vehicle that is right for you in terms of practicality and comfort. As well as reading reviews, and the plethora of information available online, use test drives to get first-hand experience of whether equipment, such as child car seats, pushchairs, bicycles, and golf clubs, all fit within your shortlisted vehicles, alongside the expected number of passengers.

The Motor Ombudsman’s Garage Finder
There are many retailers selling cars across the country, but not all will be voluntarily committed to the high standards of service required by The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales. The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder ( is a quick way to find a local franchise dealer or independent retailer that is accredited to the Code. It also means that, if you have an issue during the purchase process or beyond, that you are unable to resolve in the first instance with the business, you can then call on The Motor Ombudsman’s free and impartial Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service for independent assistance.

You need to check all paperwork carefully before signing
Prior to buying any product or service, it is important to read any paperwork thoroughly to verify that all information is correct, and that you understand the terms and conditions (i.e. the small print) in full. This applies to the order form, invoices, as well as the terms of putting down an initial deposit, which will often not be refundable once paid, as this implies that you have a contract of purchase with the seller.

There are various ways to pay for a car
Aside from being able to purchase a car outright in one lump sum payment, there are several means to fund a vehicle. These can include, taking out a loan with a bank for example, or opting for a deposit and monthly payments over a number of years via a Hire purchase (HP) or Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) arrangement.

Take the time to understand the merits and disadvantages of each type of financing, as well as associated conditions, such as annual mileage limits. Also, it is important to bear in mind that finance payments will still often be due even if the car is kept off the road for prolonged periods for repairs, as a contract will exist with the finance provider.

Have a clear picture of longer term affordability
When buying a car, it is important to take into account the longer-term running costs, not simply if a vehicle is affordable in terms of the initial deposit, especially at a time of high inflation and bills. If not part of an all-inclusive subscription that is becoming more widely available, budgeting should also be based on the monthly finance repayments, the estimated charging tariffs for EVs and plug-in hybrids (at home and on-street), and the often-fluctuating price of fuel at the pumps.

Then there is of course, breakdown cover, insurance, maintenance and the cost of replacement components, such as tyres and brake discs, which wear with vehicle usage. Equally, enquire about service plans, to get an idea of the cost of routine maintenance once any initial complementary purchase offers have expired, with the same applying to the purchase of an extended vehicle warranty.

Range varies by EV make and model
The maximum range provided on a full charge can often be an influential factor in a purchase decision when choosing an EV. It can equally vary by make and model, meaning it is important to make sure that the car suits your planned usage, i.e. whether it is going to be primarily for daily commitments or the commute. Range can also fall due to a number of factors, such as during cold weather and when using in-car systems, so it is worth speaking to the seller about how it can be affected, to make sure your needs are still met. Similarly, ask about charging times and speeds depending on the rating of the home or on-street points being used.

Every question is a sensible one
During your research, and prior to signing any documentation, this is an ideal time to ask any questions to the seller about the vehicles that you are interested in, whether this is about the specification, options and accessories, financing, or running costs. If accompanied by one of the retailer’s sales representatives, a test drive may also prompt further questions about the practicality of the car in terms of its functions and performance when out on the road.

Expect a possible wait for delivery
Although global supply chain issues have subsided in recent months, and delivery times of new vehicles have reduced, there may still be a wait of a few months from the point of ordering before the car arrives at the retailer for handover. Therefore, you may have to run your existing car for longer before it is handed over to the retailer as a “part-exchange”, or when you can indeed sell it, particularly if you rely on your existing vehicle as your sole form of transport.

“A brand new car is, for many, a significant financial commitment, even more so at a time when there are ever-increasing pressures on household budgets,” said Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman.

“Therefore, spending time doing research on different makes and models, buying from a reputable Motor Ombudsman-accredited retailer, budgeting effectively, and reading the small print, are all factors that are imperative for consumers to keep front of mind before signing on the dotted line.”

The Italian Job: Kia EV6 GT finishes 1000 Miglia Green in style

Kia EV6 GT completes the 1000 Miglia Green 2023

The Kia EV6 GT has completed the 1000 Miglia Green 2023, dubbed the “most beautiful race in the world”.

Finishing as the highest-ranking performance electric vehicle entered and sixth overall, the 1000 Miglia is a true test of endurance for both car, driver and navigator, requiring performance, precision and skill in order to score well throughout the race.

The 1000 Miglia Green is a sub-category of the historic Italian event, open only to fully electric cars.

The 2023 event was the longest in the race’s near 100-year history, spanning five days and more than 2,000 kilometres.

Kia EV6 GT completes the 1000 Miglia Green 2023

Not only was the Kia EV6 GT the first Korean car to ever compete in the 1000 Miglia Green, but the pro rally driver pairing of Jade Paveley and Ross Leach was the only team to represent Great Britain in the race.

In addition, the event marked the first time that an EV6 GT has been entered into a competitive, FIA-approved motor race.

Designed from the outset as a true GT car, the EV6 GT offers blistering performance from its twin electric motor setup that together deliver 577bhp and 740Nm of torque through all four wheels.

That power translates into a 0-62mph time of just 3.5 seconds, and an official top speed of 162mph.

Mated with a powerful 77.4kWh battery, the car is capable of covering 263 miles (WLTP combined) per charge.

Kia EV6 GT completes the 1000 Miglia Green 2023

Charging is equally rapid, thanks to the car’s E-GMP platform that supports 800V charging, enabling 10-80 per cent charge in as little as 18 minutes at the fastest charge points.

Importantly and despite the considerable distance and demanding nature of the roads and speeds required for the race, each of the timed legs travelled during the event were completed using a single charge of the car.

Charging was completed using public charge points, plus destination charging where possible at hotels at the end of each day.

The 1000 Miglia Green’s blend of rapid road driving under police escort along with precision time-trial and special stages on closed roads were the perfect test for the car’s considerable performance.

“The 1000 Miglia Green is a fantastic challenge that blends fast open road driving with time-trials and special stages,” said Ross Leach, rally driver and navigator

“It’s a great way to put any car through its paces and although incredibly demanding, the EV6 GT never skipped a beat and was a constant pleasure to be in. Particularly where outright speed and handling are concerned, the GT is able to easily hold its own, even against those in the supercar segment.

“We’re delighted to have participated in this year’s event, put the EV6 GT to the test and come home in sixth place overall but as the highest-scoring performance EV.”