‘SPORT- ELECTRIFIED’ - Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron Independent New Review (Ref:1513/12391)


Car and Driving’s Independent New Review of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron.

By Jonathan Crouch Added 29th September, 2023

With the Q4 Sportback e-tron, Audi widens the appeal of its mid-sized all-electric EV. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

The Q4 e-tron is an important model for Audi, so important that Ingolstadt feels the need to create two distinct variants, this Q4 Sportback e-tron derivative being the more dynamic-looking one. Like its standard counterpart, it's built on the Volkswagen Group MEB chassis for volume all-electric cars, but pushes the boundaries of that platform in terms of the premium prices being charged here for the size of car delivered. Still, you certainly get a very up-market feel that'll help ease you into your new electrified phase of motoring ownership. Two years into its production life, it was usefully updated to create the car we're going to look at here.



Audi's all-electric e-tron range continues to widen as more is revealed of the company's capabilities when it comes to EV technology. The e-tron sub-brand once designated PHEVs. Then it was set aside for all-electric models, the first three of those being the e-tron large SUV, the e-tron Sportback large five-door GT and the e-tron GT quattro sports saloon. But these were merely preludes to the BEV model that really matters to Ingolstadt, the Q4 e-tron, offered with a choice of body shapes, this Q4 Sportback e-tron obviously being the sportier one. It was launched back in 2021, then improved in Autumn 2023 in an update coinciding with the movement of part of production to Audi's dedicated EV factory in Brussels (which previously had only made the larger Q8 e-tron).

Where the standard Q4 e-tron takes on the plushest versions of boxy compact EV crossovers like the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Škoda Enyaq iV, the Q4 Sportback e-tron takes aim more directly at sportier contenders in this class like the Volkswagen ID.5 and the Škoda Enyaq iV Coupe. Actually, all the engineering bits that matter are common between these five cars, namely the MEB platform and the battery tech. Yet Audi claims to have put its own stamp on the way this car drives and feels. Let's see.

Driving Experience

With its Q3 and Q5 Sportback models, Audi slightly differentiates the suspension feel compared to the standard SUV variants but there's none of that here, so the Q4 Sportback e-tron drives in the same way as the conventional Q4 e-tron model. For both rear-wheel drive and quattro all-wheel drive versions of this updated model, Audi has installed a permanently excited synchronous machine (PSM) on the rear axle. The update is supposed to release higher efficiency and greater power. And, sure enough, there's 286PS now on tap from the base rear-driven version now badged '45' (as opposed to the 204PS offered by the previous '40' model). Yet the driving range figure has risen over that previous variant, the Q4 Sportback e-tron 45 capable of up to 339 miles between charges (it was 316 miles with the previous '40' model). Rest to 62mph takes 6.7s (it was 8.5s before): and the top speed (as with all Q4 e-trons) is 112mph.

The battery is the same as that fitted previously, 77kWh in usable capacity and also used by the top AWD Q4 variant, also now re-badged and now known as the Q4 e-tron 55 quattro. This flagship derivative now puts out 340PS (up from the 299PS figure of the previous e-tron 50 quattro). Which means that the 62mph sprint can be dispatched in just 5.4s (up from 6.2s before). Expect driving range for this quattro model to be just over the 300 mile mark.

There are other changes too. Audi says it has re-tuned the chassis across the range for greater driver involvement. As part of this, the steering's now sharper. The engineers have tinkered with the suspension, aiming for greater comfort and stability; as before it's a MacPherson strut front and five-link rear arrangement, with sports suspension available (which lowers ride height by 15mm) and adaptive damping offered further up the range.

Audi's also created what it calls a new 'character sound', which is offered as an option and emitted via two exterior speakers at the rear and two interior speakers in the rear doors. This 'soundscape' varies according to load and speed. There's a new camera drive assist feature too, which allows assisted lane changes above 56mph.

Otherwise, things are pretty much as before. This Q4's pretty straightforward to get to grips with behind the wheel. You select drive using a slider-type shifter situated on the centre console and once underway, there's the kind of instant throttle response you'd usually get from an EV of this sort. Across the range, there's the same kind of suspension set-up you'd find in other mid-sized Audi SUVs - a MacPherson strut front and five-link rear arrangement, with sports suspension available (which lowers ride height by 15mm) and adaptive damping offered further up the range.

Design and Build

There haven't been any visual changes as part of this model update. as before, the Q4 Sportback e-tron is definitely a sleeker thing than its standard-shape counterpart - and not just visually - the drag coefficient drops from 0.28 to o.26Cd. This sportier variant's more sharply swept back silhouette culminates in a roof spoiler that sits much lower on the split and steeply raked rear window, and as the area in which the air swirls as it comes off the vehicle is restricted to the zone beneath the spoiler, that area is significantly smaller than in the ordinary Q4 e-tron. This not only highlights the more unique design of this SUV coupe, but also enhances its range by around 7 miles, while also reducing the lift on the rear.

Inside, the front of cabin experience is, of course, the same as that of the ordinary Q4 e-tron, so there's a 10.25-inch instrument display and an 11.6-inch central monitor. Premium materials are generously applied around the cabin and Audi's keen to highlight the extensive interior storage areas. To accommodate the battery, the back seat is mounted 70mm higher than the front. Boot space in this Sportback actually rises slightly over the ordinary model - 535-litres rather than 520-litres; but capacity when the 40:20:40-split seatback is lowered falls slightly - 1,460-litres, rather than 1,490-litres.

Market and Model

There's a £1,500 premium to pay for Q4 Sportback e-tron ownership over the price of an ordinary Q4 e-tron. So you'll need to find from around £52,000 for a 45 e-tron model with this sleeker body style. You'll need from around £58,000 upwards for the top 55 e-tron quattro 4WD Q4 Sportback model.There are lots of model options if you want to pay more, with variants ranging right the way up to just under the £63,000 price point. Yes, really.

There are three main trim levels - 'Sport', 'S line' and 'Black Edition'. Base 'Sport' variants get 19-inch Graphite Grey alloy wheels, those rims upgraded to 20-inches in size with the mid-level 'S line' trim level most customers will choose. Even base 'Sport' trim includes LED headlights, front sports seats, 3-Zone air conditioning and an 'MMI navigation Plus' media system with an 11.6-inch centre screen. The later includes navigation, a WiFi hotspot and Amazon Alexa integration. There's also a 10.25-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument screen, an 8-speaker 180-watt sound system, rear parking sensors and cruise control.

Across the line-up, there's lots of sophisticated equipment available - much of it optional. Like the Matrix LED headlights with their 16 individually activated LEDs. And the bespoke Sonos sound system upgrade package. We'd also want to look at the optional heat pump, which rapidly heats and cools the interior using the thermal losses from the electric components and the temperature of the outside air. It uses eco-friendly CO2 as a refrigerant, which flows through the circuit at high pressure. The heat pump can reduce losses in range caused by usage of the climate control system, especially in winter. Its strengths come to the fore on long drives.

Cost of Ownership

What about battery replenishment for the 76.6kWh (net) battery of the Q4 Sportback 45 e-tron and Q4 Sportback 55 e-tron quattro? Well those variants have been engineered for charging speeds of up to 11kW during AC charging; for DC charging, standard rear-driven models charge at 135kW, while quattro versions can charge at up to 175kW. With a rapid public charger, WLTP testing has confirmed that in only 10 minutes, the Q4 45 e-tron can recharge enough electricity to cover a distance of about 80 miles. Charging at 135kW in ideal conditions, the battery can achieve an 80% state of charge from a 5% starting point in 29 minutes. If you're using a conventional 7kW garage wallbox, a Q4 45 e-tron can charge 255 miles of range in eight and a quarter hours. For the first time, the Q4 e-tron model family also features post-conditioning. Here, the vehicle's thermal management system cools the battery, for example, if it exceeds a fixed temperature threshold after driving or charging.

Using the myAudi app, owners can activate charging remotely using a smartphone. The app also provides access to the comfort remote preconditioning system, which enables remote adjustment of the cabin temperature and seat heating functions to ensure that the cabin climate is always comfortable well before a journey begins.

Accessing and paying for electricity while on the road can be easily taken care of using the 'e-tron Charging Service', which provides UK subscribers with one RFID payment card that is accepted at a vast number of charge points operated by 18 suppliers across the UK and Europe, and offers a choice of two fixed price charging tariffs.


Within the Q3 and Q5 ranges, the Sportback body shape tends to out-sell the conventional SUV version and we expect the same trend to be replicated here. After all, the Q4 Sportback e-tron doesn't cost vastly more than its boxier showroom stablemate, yet makes a significantly more dynamic driveway statement. There's no real penalty for the more slippery shape in terms of either boot space or rear cabin head room either.

In this form, the Q4 is more likely to appeal to premium EV customers who might be looking at more stylised rivals like the Polestar 2, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai IONIQ 5. Arguably, this Audi can shade all of these competitors when it comes to cabin ambiance - it has the finish, the luxury and (to some extent) the driving dynamics of an electric crossover from next class up. The kind of thing you'd get from larger EV models like the Jaguar I-PACE and the Mercedes EQC. But of course you pay for that. With Audi, it was ever thus.

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Styling
  • Build
  • Value
  • Equipment
  • Economy
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Total (69/110)

Time to review the car for yourself

Book A Test Drive

Terms and Conditions:

  1. Emissions and efficiency data taken from official test results, where available, when new. Data shown is intended to provide a standard figure for comparing the relative fuel economy of different vehicles of a similar age and condition, and does not represent the average fuel consumption that will be achieved on the road. Actual figures will depend on factors including the age of the vehicle, how it has been maintained, road and weather conditions and driving style.