A2

Audi Q4 E-tron 40 2021 UK review | Autocar

Matt Saunders Autocar
22 June 2021

What is it?

This is the mid-level longest-range version of the new Audi Q4 E-tron[1], which itself could be thought of as Audi’s[2] first mass-market electric car. Coming after the bigger, pricier and more luxurious E-tron SUV[3] and the Porsche Taycan-related E-tron GT[4] pseudo sports car, this is the model that, Audi will hope, will begin to give the vast majority of its customers an affordable – but also still a desirable, usable and versatile – route into EV ownership. 

In smaller-batteried 168bhp form, the Q4 E-tron can be had from just a whisker over £40,000. The version we’re testing is slightly more expensive, but it combines a 201bhp rear-mounted electric motor with a drive battery of a usable 77kWh of capacity, and advertises some 316 miles of WLTP-lab-test-verified range. That’s a figure competitive with the longer-range version of the Polestar 2[5], albeit not quite equal to the very longest-range versions of the Tesla Model 3[6] and Ford Mustang Mach-E[7] (both of which can currently be had for a little more outlay than our Q4 test car). For a sub-£45,000 EV, however, it’s decent battery range for the money, while 125kW fast-charging ability as standard on bigger-batteried cars makes long-range usability all the easier to contemplate. 

The Q4 E-tron becomes Audi’s electric sibling for the Volkswagen ID 4[8] and Skoda Enyaq[9], taking the VW’s Group’s MEB specialised electric car platform as its mechanical basis and slotting into the wider Audi showroom range just where you’d expect it to: as a mid-sized crossover SUV sized between the Q3[10] and Q5. Audi’s key claim for the car is that it has outstanding interior packaging, though: passenger space that makes it feel much more like a full-sized SUV on the inside, despite measuring less than 4.6m in length on the outside, thanks to that space-efficient architecture.

The other notable departure here is to do with mechanical layout. While the range-topping E-tron 50 version of the Q4 will have two drive motors and independently controlled quattro four-wheel drive, the lower E-tron 35 and mid-range E-tron 40 become the first Audi mainstream production models in modern history with rear-wheel drive (not counting the rear-driven versions of the R8 supercar[11]).

What’s it like?

Audi clearly isn’t afraid of the potential of electric drive to rewrite the rulebook on how its cars are laid out, then – or even how they look. Making EVs will mean embracing change for every ‘legacy brand’, after all – and Audi has the advantage of being part of a manufacturing group in which the cost and risk of making the switch can be shared around. Sounds very sensible.

Even so, the Q4 is quite a strange-looking car. When you stand back and take it in, you’ll quickly see that it looks much less like either a Q3 or Q5 from some angles than some slightly angry, high-rised, 150%-scale modern take on the original A2 hatchback[12]. The car’s bonnet and front overhang are very short, its cabin and wheelbase are both very long in proportion to its overall length, and its waistline is high, with an awful lot of metalwork on show below it.

Luxury car design convention has held for decades that the length of a car’s bonnet, and the distance presented between the front wheel arch and the base of the windscreen – ‘the premium gap’, as it has become known – are key in defining the visual appeal of a car you might be inclined to pay a premium for. Well, the Q4 E-tron hasn’t got one; couldn’t really have less of one, actually. 

It has, instead, a slightly stunted, snub-nosed look in profile, those busy body surfaces and two-tone arches and sills all clear attempts to disguise the sort of proportions that would otherwise look awkward and bulky. It might have been fair enough, of course, if the Q4 had come along earlier, for Audi to have simply declared that “electric cars are different” and that it isn’t fair to judge them for aesthetic appeal as you might an equivalent combustion-engined car. Ten years ago, or even five, we might have swallowed that. 

But today – when EVs like the Jaguar I-Pace[13], Honda E, Polestar 2 and Hyundai Ioniq 5[14] have all showed us differently? Surely, it’s for Audi to justify its standing as a design brand, and its premium positioning, with a better-looking electric car? In my view, they’ve missed the target by a distance here.

The view from the inside of the Q4 outwards isn’t much more familiar. You sit at a midway compromise of normal- and SUV-typical eyelines, but your view of the front of the car and the wider world outside is hampered by steeply raked A-pillars, a steeply raked windscreen, and by that short bonnet that slopes away from you as it advances, whose forward extremity is therefore quite hard to judge. The car’s windscreen angle is like that in order to provide good aerodynamics for the Q4, no doubt; also to provide room to accommodate the projector for the car’s augmented-reality head-up display, which Audi touts as a major technical selling point, ahead of the driver.

There is, however, certainly plenty of room inside the Q4. Both head room and leg room in the front row are very generous for a car of this size, likewise occupant space in the back. You won’t find the potential to slide or to individually fold the back seats down, but taller adults could nonetheless still travel very comfortably. Storage space is equally good, the car’s angular door console design including angled bottle holders at a higher level, as well as decent-sized pockets further below.

The Q4’s dashboard is of a bold, angular, geometric design, which extends even to include a slightly off-circular steering wheel with flattened-off top and bottom sections. There’s a three-tier centre stack, with the infotainment system on its top level, the  gear selector and drive mode controller on the second level, and extra storage on the lowest one.

It looks imaginative and attractive enough, but the Q4’s interior doesn’t impress so much on a tactile level, or with the attention to detail that Audi usually lavishes on perceived quality. Our test car had trim materials lacking in a bit of variety, relying a lot on glossy black panels, which are vulnerable to smudgy finger marks. It also featured quite a lot of hard, dull, plain-feeling moulded plastics, many of which – around the steering wheel, centre console and door consoles in particular – had been left with sharper raised edges and fitted together a little imprecisely. The door pockets, which would typically have a felt or rubber lining in an Audi, had been left hard and slippery, for their contents to slide around noisily within as you drive. Those bottle holders, meanwhile, don’t have the sprung retaining supports that you’ll find in the in-board cupholders, and so their contents can rattle and roll around similarly. Is this Audi cabin quality? It’s debatable.

The Q4 certainly has plenty of on-board digital technology to pique your interest, of course: fully digital instruments, touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, and that head-up display, whose graphics do occasionally help you to spot a side road that you might otherwise have missed, or to get the right exit on a busy roundabout. It’s as easy to drive as EVs increasingly are, with the moderate, sure-footed and reassuring dynamic character you’d expect of an Audi, rear-wheel drive or not.

Our test car had optional 20in wheels and adaptive dampers. It handled accurately, riding with a firm-edged restiveness that made it prone to fidget a little over uneven surfaces, but maintaining reasonable body control regardless, even at higher speeds, and avoiding any sense of aggression about its damping or lumbering heaviness about its primary ride. The car’s rolling chassis can be a little bit noisy over rougher asphalt and sharper edges, the front suspension liable to clunk around just a little over the worst lumps and bumps. Perhaps it’s your proximity to that axle that makes it all the more noticeable when it does. 

The car’s performance level isn’t particularly assertive or sporty-feeling in the broadest of terms, but it’s responsive and feels quite potent when accelerating below about 50mph, and it suits a mid-market family SUV well enough. At motorway speeds, there’s enough performance to pull off a lorry overtake sufficiently quickly, and the car never feels anything less than amply powerful, but it only has any real urgency at lower speeds.

Audi gives you the option to let the car manage its own coasting and regenerative braking depending on what’s coming up on the road ahead, or to flick those regeneration settings up and down using paddle shift levers. Learn to do that well – to let this two-tonne car coast when it can and conserve energy, only to recapture it with the electric motor rather than the brakes when you need to slow down – and you’ll find you can beat an indicated 4.0 miles per kWh when running around town at low speeds, making for more than 300 miles of range when you need it, while 70mph motorway cruising is typically done at around 3.0mpkWh, allowing for more like 230 miles of range between charges.

Should I buy one?

This is a quiet, refined, mature-feeling and fairly precise-handling zero-emissions family car. In many ways, it’s precisely the sort you’d have expected Audi to make – but not in every way. It has impressive space and practicality and creditable electric range, too, but it doesn’t have the classic Audi design appeal you might have expected of it, nor quite the detailed, materially inscrutable cabin quality. 

The Q4 performs and handles a little unmemorably, but without major fault. It doesn’t attempt the dynamic agility of a Tesla Model 3, say, or even a Ford Mustang Mach-E. But it does have the secure, predictable dynamic assurance of a modern Audi – and from a car whose driven axle is at the opposite end of the chassis from the one at which Audi is used to having it, and in a package weighing what it does, that’s no mean achievement.

Does it do enough to stand apart from its cheaper MEB Volkswagen[15]– and Skoda[16]-brand platform buddies as a premium product, though, or simply to feel, in its own right, like Audi’s extra-special, premium-worthy, zero-emissions vision for the near-term future of family transport? I’m not so sure it does. It’s a start, and an important one at that in what’s rapidly becoming the big-volume part of the EV market. But, from a firm built on technical innovation, it does seem like a slightly tentative, conservative first step.

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References

  1. ^ the new Audi Q4 E-tron (www.autocar.co.uk)
  2. ^ Audi’s (www.autocar.co.uk)
  3. ^ E-tron SUV (www.autocar.co.uk)
  4. ^ E-tron GT (www.autocar.co.uk)
  5. ^ the Polestar 2 (www.autocar.co.uk)
  6. ^ Tesla Model 3 (www.autocar.co.uk)
  7. ^ Ford Mustang Mach-E (www.autocar.co.uk)
  8. ^ Volkswagen ID 4 (www.autocar.co.uk)
  9. ^ Skoda Enyaq (www.autocar.co.uk)
  10. ^ the Q3 (www.autocar.co.uk)
  11. ^ the R8 supercar (www.autocar.co.uk)
  12. ^ the original A2 hatchback (www.autocar.co.uk)
  13. ^ Jaguar I-Pace (www.autocar.co.uk)
  14. ^ Hyundai Ioniq 5 (www.autocar.co.uk)
  15. ^ Volkswagen (www.autocar.co.uk)
  16. ^ Skoda (www.autocar.co.uk)
  17. ^ Log in (www.autocar.co.uk)
  18. ^ register (www.autocar.co.uk)

Six miles of traffic on M2 after lorry overturns

There are six and half miles of traffic on the A2/M2 as work to recover a lorry continues.

The incident happened at around 10.30pm on the London bound carriageway of the A2 near Cobham.

The overturned lorry on the A2. Picture: UKNiP

The overturned lorry on the A2. Picture: UKNiP

The overturned lorry on the A2. Picture: UKNiP

There are delays of around 45 minutes and queues are stretching back to junction 3 of the M2.

Lane one and two remain closed.

A statement from Highways England said: “This is likely to take a few more hours to due to the complexity of the recovery and the damage to infrastructure.

“Please allow extra time for your journey if planning on using this section of road. If possible please consider alternate routes.”

Police were called at 10.39pm and closed a lane to ensure public safety. No serious injuries were reported and officers left the recovery effort to Highways England shortly after.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent’s roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog. [1][2]

Listen to kmfm for regular travel updates.[3]

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend[4]

Nine mile queues for Dartford Crossing

Drivers heading to the Dartford crossing should expect delays of up to an hour in 9-mile tailbacks.

Traffic on the M25 to get into Essex is stretched as far back as junction 4 for Orpington.

Long delays on the M25

Long delays on the M25

Long delays on the M25

One lane of four remains closed between Junction 1A and 1B at the Princes Road Interchange.

It is reportedly due to a crash involving multiple vehicles.

Fire crews were called to attend reports the tyres of a lorry had caught alight near junction 1A shortly before 4pm.

One fire engine attended and the vehicle’s tyres were said to be smoking on arrival.

Crews then cooled the wheels down with hose reel jets.

Long queues for the Crossing remain. Photo: Highways England

Long queues for the Crossing remain. Photo: Highways England

Long queues for the Crossing remain. Photo: Highways England

There are currently hour long delays and the volume of traffic is also affecting the A2.

According to traffic service Inrix there has been a further report of a breakdown in the queues.

Yesterday there were eight-mile queues at the Crossing.[1]

Kent Fire and Rescue have been contacted for comment.

More to follow.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent’s roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog. [2][3]

Listen to kmfm for regular travel updates.[4]

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford[5]

References

  1. ^ eight-mile queues at the Crossing. (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ latest traffic and travel news here (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  3. ^ following our live blog. (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  4. ^ Listen to kmfm for regular travel updates. (www.kmfm.co.uk)
  5. ^ Read more: All the latest news from Dartford (www.kentonline.co.uk)

Crossing delays due to crash

A crash has brought traffic to a halt on the approach to the Dartford[1] Crossing.

There are long queues on the anti clockwise carriageway due to a collision between a car and a lorry.

Traffic is building on the approach to the Dartford Crossing due to an earlier crash. Photo: Highways England

Traffic is building on the approach to the Dartford Crossing due to an earlier crash. Photo: Highways England

Traffic is building on the approach to the Dartford Crossing due to an earlier crash. Photo: Highways England

Lanes one and two are currently closed at the Thurrock junction.

It is causing more than five and a half miles of tailbacks with queues extending onto the A2 near Bexley.

Traffic officers are at the scene.

Highways England has advised motorists to allow plenty of extra time if travelling this afternoon.

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford[2]

References

  1. ^ Dartford (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ Read more: All the latest news from Dartford (www.kentonline.co.uk)

Miles of queues after crash and blocked Dartford Crossing

Three incidents – including a crash which led to a woman being taken to hospital after a two-car crash on the A2 – are causing miles of queues.

One lane has been closed following the incident on the coastbound carriageway near the Cobham services between Gravesend[1] and Medway[2].

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

Traffic is queuing between the A227 and start of the M2, according to Highways England.

Queues are expected to remain until 1pm while the crash is cleared.

Police spokesman Martin Very said: “Kent Police was called at around 10.35am on June 1 regarding a collision involving two cars on the coastbound carriageway of the A2 near Gravesend.

“Patrols and South East Coast Ambulance Service attended and a woman who reported an injury was taken to a local hospital for medical attention.

“Highways officers remain at the scene arranging vehicle recovery.”

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

Queuing traffic on the M25 from Swanley towards the Dartford Crossing after a tunnel was blocked. Picture: Highways England

The woman’s injury is not said to be serious or life-threatening and recovery work is ongoing.

Meanwhile, traffic in the opposite direction of the A2 towards London is moving slowly following an earlier incident at the Dartford Crossing, which saw a lorry block the western tunnel.

A spokesman for Highways England said: “The tunnel had to be shut for the lorry to reverse out at 10.45am, with the tunnel closed for around 20 minutes.

“Once the lorry was out, it went down the other tunnel and everything was back to normal.”

But jams have been building between the A2260 junction near Bean and the A296 at Bluewater as a result.

On the M25 anti-clockwise there are queues between Swanley and the Lakeside junction in Essex.

Traffic is expected to take about half an hour to clear the area.

In a separate incident, a broken down vehicle in the outside lane of the M25 at the Darenth Interchange is also adding to heavy traffic.

All lanes are now reopen.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent’s roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here[3] or by following our live blog[4].

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend[5]

References

  1. ^ Gravesend (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ Medway (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  3. ^ latest traffic and travel news here (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  4. ^ live blog (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  5. ^ Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend (www.kentonline.co.uk)

Road partially blocked following crash

A crash between two cars and a lorry has left access to a major carriageway partially blocked.

The accident was reported on the Londonbound A2 at Brenley Corner at around 8.35pm.

It is not known if anyone is injured.

The accident is at the Brenley Corner roundabout. Stock picture

The accident is at the Brenley Corner roundabout. Stock picture

The accident is at the Brenley Corner roundabout. Stock picture

Traffic is said to be moving slowly at Boughton under Blean, with the collision recorded just before J7 of the M2, on the roundabout.

It comes just hours after a crash[1] involving two cars and a motorbike between J6 and J5 of the M2.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent’s roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog.[2][3]

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury[4]

References

  1. ^ just hours after a crash (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ latest traffic and travel news (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  3. ^ live blog (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  4. ^ Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury (www.kentonline.co.uk)

Pair charged with fuel thefts

Two men have been charged with theft after fuel was siphoned from a lorry.

Officers were called at 12.45am on Friday to a layby on the A2 near Canterbury[1].

Officers arrested the pair in Dover

Officers arrested the pair in Dover

Officers arrested the pair in Dover

Officers identified a suspect vehicle and arrested two men in Whitfield, Dover[2] shortly after 1.30am.

Constantin Eftimie, 41, and Ionut-mirel Pantazi, 25, have been charged with theft.

They have since been released on bail to appear at Margate Magistrates’ Court on June 24.

Inspector Guy Thompson, of Canterbury’s Community Safety Unit, said: “We urge lorry drivers to remain vigilant to this type of offending and call us on 101 if they see suspicious activity or 999 if a crime is in progress.

They will appear before Medway Magistrates' Court in June

They will appear before Medway Magistrates' Court in June

They will appear before Medway Magistrates’ Court in June

“Parking in well-lit areas covered by CCTV or close to other vehicles to restrict access to your fuel tank is recommended.

“Fuel cap alarms can also be fitted which are activated when your vehicle is tampered with.”

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here[3]

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury[4]

References

  1. ^ Canterbury (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ Dover (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  3. ^ To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here (www.kentonline.co.uk)
  4. ^ Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury (www.kentonline.co.uk)