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Q4 e-tron, they got it right.

As most of you know, we like EV's at DLS. Of course, there is some getting used to, but we've driven so many EV's now that we're totally fine with them. In the past, we've driven Audi's e-tron Sportback 55 and e-tron S Sportback, with which we had one fundamental problem; the range. Has Audi solved this problem with its new Q4 e-tron? Read along to find out!

Let's start with the name, Q4 e-tron. Audi kind of messed up with their naming scheme by naming its Q7-sized EV just the "e-tron". Having a prefix like "Q4" is better suited in our opinion. Audi has an SUV in its lineup that's just called to e-tron, but the Q4 also has e-tron in its name, confused? The Q4 kind of sits between the Q3 and Q5, so it's reasonable to call it the Q4. The e-tron part states that it's fully electric. And Audi has finally figured out that this is the EV that they should've built a long time ago. The sub-compact size is what the people want, not a Q7-sized SUV with barely 320km of range. Its size and form factor, combined with an 82 kWh battery means that the Q4 e-tron gets a comfortable 420km range. When we picked it up (with a 95% charge), it showed 450km. Range anxiety is absolutely of no concern.

The Q4 e-tron is an EV that you expect from Audi. While being compact, the interior feels spacious. Audi's new MMI infotainment is finally put to good use. A huge screen helps you to do your usual things, but the climate-control is still separate, which we love. With a car like this, you appreciate the things you'd normally ignore in a performance vehicle. The lane-keep assist is on par with Volvo's Pilot-Assist, if not even a little bit better in handling sharper corners and approaching roundabouts.

While mentioning Volvo, a direct competitor of the Q4 e-tron is the Volvo XC40 Recharge. They are very similar in size and they are both the only "usable" EV's from the German and Swedish giants. They are both expecting to get big numbers from each car respectively. But more about that later, let's get to the performance of the Q4. The usable battery capacity is 76.6 kWh and it gets permanent AWD from two electric motors at each axle. Our tested Q4 e-tron 50 is the top-of-range model (at the moment). 300hp and 460nm are the magic numbers, but it feels quicker than that. Low down the Q4 e-tron is surprisingly rapid, especially considering that it weighs an astonishing 2400kg. 0 - 50km/h is done in no more than 2.3 seconds, after that the pulling power drops off. 0 - 100km/h is done in 6.2 seconds. This is weird because the initial pull is very promising, but this shows that the weight is substantial. If you want to attack corners, you can, but expect a lot of body roll and tire squealing. It's possible to drive dynamically, but you feel that it doesn't like it. Oversteer is very possible if you wrestle it, or do the old "Scandinavian flick", which we found very amusing for a car that isn't made for corners. If you're a normal human being, you're probably driving this to work, to the shops, and through town. Which is all very pleasant in the Q4 e-tron, it's made for this kind of stuff. Of course, it's going to be comfortable and sensible, it's an Audi!

This brings us back to its main rival; the XC40 Recharge. While having 100 horsepower more and a whopping 660nm, the driving experience itself is very similar. Comfortable with the normal stuff and rubbish in the corners. They're both not sporty and dynamic in any way. Straight-line speed suits the XC40 even more, with its 4.7s to 100km/h time. But they are essentially not performance cars, despite being fast in a straight line. They both set the new EV standard for the respective companies. Both Volvo and Audi have announced and launched the "Coupé" version of the Q4 and the XC40; the Q4 e-tron Sportback and C40 Recharge, one of which we have already had the chance of driving. We'll have to wait for both cars to reach our front doors, but we're looking forward to driving the swoopier-coupé versions next year. Which one would we take? Probably still the Volvo, because it's a full 25'000 cheaper than the Audi and because we're kind of in love with Volvo's, sorry. The Audi starts from 62'000 and the XC40 P8 that we tested was 66'000. The entry-level Q4 e-tron gets no AWD and some puny 300km of range. In the past, if you wanted the more premium car, you'd get the Audi, but nowadays you're paying a lot more to get that premium compared to other cars. Considering the Q4 e-tron is based on the VW ID.4, it also has the same plastic buttons and gear lever. Interior quality is better, but the XC40 was up there with the Q4 e-tron in terms of quality.

Our verdict; the Q4 e-tron is a fantastic car and it's one of the most surprising EV's of the year, definitely in the top 3. But the competition is catching up, and they're doing it fast. Our bet; look a Volvo and Peugeot in the upcoming years, they'll be up there with the Germans.


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