Volkswagen is transplanting its SUV seedlings based on the modular electrical construction kit (MEB) across almost the entire group. There are two of them in Audi packaging. In accordance with the intended brand role, they should pick up those customers who expect a certain amount of extra from a considerable additional investment. Our test with an Audi Q4 e-tron 50 should clarify exactly what this is.
Set up independently
“More” initially means conservative: the Q4 e-tron is optically an SUV, as one knows and expects from Audi. The VW ID.4 differs significantly from the VW Tiguan in terms of design, and Skoda Kodiaq (driving report) and Enyaq also differ considerably. At Audi, the e-SUV nestles inconspicuously between Q3 and Q5. The shape is, to put it benevolently, brawny, with which Audi has embarked on the sure path to many hearts: The majority of the target group will probably welcome that just as much.
In the interior, too, Audi remains a long way from the comparatively futuristic designs that VW and Skoda have submitted. There are more buttons and a conventional instrument cluster that is not very easy, but can be configured extensively. We don’t know why Audi had to bury the decision which layout it should be so deep in the infotainment system. That was already solved more easily. At least the customer can adjust something here. In the technically related Skoda Enyaq, which is in the editorial office while this text is being written, this is not possible.
Similar to Skoda and completely different from Volkswagen, there are a few keys that are permanently assigned and thus shorten the way to frequently used functions. I would have liked freely assignable buttons even better, but even BMW, the pioneer of this idea, is currently doing away with them in connection with the “Operating System 8”. Basically, a lack of keys is not a big problem, as long as you include excellent voice control. A lot has happened here, in the Q4 e-tron it works much better than in earlier Audi models a few years ago. The problem is, however: Mercedes and Android Automotiv have already moved on again and show what is currently possible. Viewed in isolation, the Audi solution is still okay, even if understanding and processing speed lag behind the best systems.
The seats are very comfortable and the space is generous. In some places, and this may irritate or disappoint the target group described above, the Q4 e-tron does not look as high-quality as the ambitious prices would have suggested. Many a plastic part has a remarkable simplicity. At least the workmanship in the test car was impeccable.
There is no storage compartment under the front hood, often called Frunk in modern German, because Volkswagen simply did not plan this in the design. There is, of course, a positive side to this: Customers mostly don’t see the fact that in a self-proclaimed luxury car – in the case of the very, very extensively equipped test car, which cost almost 78,000 euros – it wasn’t even enough for a gas pressure spring on the hood. I found another austerity measure to be more annoying. In many models there are two buttons, one to close the motorized tailgate and one that closes the hatch and locks the car at the same time. The latter is missing in the Audi.
All of this should not and must not distract from the fact that cars are basically pretty good at one thing on this basis: Driving! The maximum expansion stage of the drive was installed in the test car. That means a system output of 220 kW in boost mode and a battery with a net energy content of 77 kWh. The synchronous motor on the rear axle offers 150 kW, the asynchronous motor on the front axle 80 kW. The maximum torque is 310 Nm at the rear and 162 Nm at the front.