Drives well, comfortable, high-quality. Not as compromised as you might think
Still a bit compromised. Plus it's pricier. More testing required to measure efficiency
What is it?
It’s exactly what it looks like – a coupe-ified Audi Q4 e-tron. Possibly the most significant car Audi’s released since the original A3 hatchback – with a slipperier four-door coupe-style body that sacrifices a bit of space (and a lot of rear visibility) in the name of style. It’s called the Q4 ‘Sportback’, just like the coupe-ified versions of Audi’s other SUVs (the Q3 Sportback and recently-launched Q5 Sportback, for example).
More generally, the Q4 is Audi’s first ground-up electric SUV. The bigger e-tron SUV, that’s been with us for a few years now and is too available in Sportback form, sits on an older platform shared with combustion-engined cars. So it’s inherently compromised. The Q4 is based on the Volkswagen Group’s EV-only ‘MEB’ platform which also underpins the VW ID.3 and ID.4, Skoda Enyaq iV and Cupra Born.
HOW BIG IS THE BATTERY, AND WHAT’S THE RANGE?
Just like the Q4 SUV, the Sportback comes in three flavours. The cheapest ‘35’ version has a single 168bhp electric motor that draws power from a 52kWh (net) battery. Claimed range is up to 211 miles WLTP.
The ‘40’ – the longest-range Q4, and likely to be the best-seller – marries a slightly more powerful 201bhp e-motor to a 77kWh (also net) battery. Audi hasn't supplied range figures for this version yet - but ought to be fractionally better than the SUV's claimed 316 miles.
Then there’s the ‘50’, which shares the 40’s 77kWh battery but adds all-wheel drive via a second e-motor on the front-axle. Combined output is 295bhp and you’re looking at up to 309 miles of claimed range.
As with all EVs, subtract 25 per cent from the claimed range for a better idea of how far the Q4 can actually travel between charges.
HOW MUCH LESS PRACTICAL IS THE SPORTBACK THAN THE Q4 SUV?
Coupe-ified SUVs like the Sportback tend to sacrifice a significant amount of U in pursuit of more S, but happily that’s not really the case here.
Obviously the Q4 SUV’s boot is a more useful shape than the Sportback’s, but there’s honestly not much in it when it comes to sheer volume (just 30 litres with the seats folded). As for the back seats, somehow the Sportback has enough headroom back there that six-footers can sit bolt upright without brushing the headliner. They’ll have enough legroom too. Really is well-packaged, this thing.
IS IT EXPENSIVE?
Relative to a Dacia Sandero, yes. Yes the Audi Q4 Sportback is very expensive. But relative to its key rivals, no, it really isn’t.
Prices start at £42,825, making the Sportback £1,500 more expensive than the equivalent Q4 SUV.
Rivals are the same as the Q4 SUV – Mercedes EQA, Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge (the forthcoming C40 Recharge is a closer match for the Sportback, with its coupe-ified rear-end). Also worth looking at the VW ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.
WHAT SPECS HAVE YOU TESTED SO FAR?
You can order one now, but the Sportback doesn’t officially arrive in the UK until September, which is when we’ll drive all the other versions. For now the only one we’ve tested is a top-of-the-range e-tron Sportback 50 Edition 1, fitted with every conceivable optional extra and thus costing north of £60,000. We have however tested the Q4 e-tron 40 in SUV form.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Quality interior, good (claimed) range, excellent tech and reasonably priced relative to the competition – the Q4 is sure to do very well indeed. Audi reckons that from 2022 the Q4 will be its second best-selling model behind the A3 hatchback, with the Sportback accounting for around 16 per cent of Q4 sales.
We were expecting to give it a bit of a kicking for having an unacceptably tiny boot and about as much rear-headroom as a two-man tent. Because it’s a coupe-ified SUV and, well… that’s just what they’re like.
But then we sat in one. Sure the Sportback’s boot is a less useful shape than the Q4 SUV’s, but in terms of outright capacity it’s barely any smaller. You can fit actual adults in the back too – there’s loads of legroom and more than enough headroom for a six-footer to sit up straight. That’s clever packaging. Kudos Audi.
We’d still have the SUV, though, because it’s that little bit more practical, cheaper to buy and feels exactly the same to drive as the slipperier Sportback. Which as you’ll have read in our review of the Q4 SUV, is pretty good in a comfy and reassuring, if unengaging, kind of way. Whatever bodystyle you go for, though, rest assured the Audi Q4 is A Good Car.