The Audi Q4 E-Tron doesn’t channel the charm or the appeal that those loyal to the brand have come to expect. To them or to the EV-savvy, it reveals itself as a rebadge of the Volkswagen ID.4, priced $10,000 higher.
I’m one of those Audi fans. My family has owned multiple vehicles from the automaker’s peak over-engineered era, and we’ve loved them. A 2001 Audi A6 once lived in my garage (I used to be cool, it was a V-8 widebody model).
Spending a week with a well equipped $64,765 2023 Audi Q4 E-Tron quattro shocked me in its cheap materials, questionable build quality, and homely design. It’s not all bad, but the Genesis GV60 makes a much better impression, and frankly so does its cousin the ID.4.
Pro: The Q4 E-Tron’s efficient enough
My dual-motor Q4 E-Tron tester with a quattro badge had an EPA range rating of 236 miles, which is enough though it won’t set records or raise eyebrows in any impressive manner. With 77 kwh usable from its 82-kwh battery pack, that puts the Q4 E-Tron dual-motor’s efficiency at more than 3 miles per kwh. In cold Minnesota winter weather of about 13 degrees I averaged 2.4 mi/kwh over the course of 221 miles of mixed suburban driving. Given the temperatures of usual range and efficiency drop of one third, the Q4 E-Tron’s efficiency was admirable in the cold weather.
Pro: The Q4 E-Tron wakes up and goes to sleep
The Q4 E-Tron operates how an electric car should. When I slid into it the vehicle woke up. When I locked it and walked away it turned off and went to sleep. No buttons were needed as in the Genesis GV60, Kia EV6, or Hyundai Ioniq 5. For Tesla owners this may sound ridiculous, but there are plenty of models still asking for drivers to run internal-combustion engine hoops.
Con: Q4 E-Tron build-quality concerns
Our 2001 Audi A6 was built like a tank. It was 18 years old with over 100,000 miles on it when we sold it, and that thing didn’t have a single squeak, creak, or rattle. The doors featured shims so you could align them to ensure they were 100% straight and true with the bodywork throughout the car’s life. Wild stuff. The Q4 E-Tron tested had less than 3,000 miles on the odometer and there was a consistent squeak from the steering column and a rattle from the passenger side rear hatch area.
Pro: Q4 E-Tron’s packaged well
The Q4 E-Tron, just like its ID.4 sibling, has a roomy interior. The front seats are comfortable with plenty of stretch-out space, and the rear seat isn’t as high as what’s found in the Genesis GV60. A 6-footer can comfortably sit in front and back at the same time, which is another feat that can’t be said about the Genesis.
Con: Q4 E-Tron’s design gives pause
The ID.4 looks fun and cheeky, like the future should. The Genesis GV60 looks attractive. Heck, the EV6 looks sporty and the Ioniq 5 looks like a throwback. The Q4 E-Tron looks like none of those things. Using the ID.4’s hard points, the designers gave it a blocky, blunt front end and boring rear end. It’s not pretty; it’s not fun; and it’s not nearly as good looking as the Q8 E-Tron.
The dashboard is familiar, but it juts out into the front passenger’s space intrusively in a weird way, and cheap, hard plastics make up the Q4 E-Trons center console. And why is the steering wheel a squircle? What’s wrong with a round steering wheel, people? Somewhere my old A6 weeps and laughs at this Q4 E-Tron’s interior.
Pro: Q4 E-Tron’s turning radius
With large wheel wells and wheels pushed to the corners, Audi gave the Q4 E-Tron a notably tight turning radius—33 feet in rear-drive form. That’s six feet less than a GV60 or Tesla Model Y require.
Con: Q4 E-Tron’s ride comfort
My wife Karen, who daily- drove that 2001 A6, rides in every vehicle I test, and rarely speaks up, asked what was wrong with the Q4 E-Tron as it lumbered over the broken pavement in the Target parking lot.
“This doesn’t ride like an Audi,” Karen said.
She was right, which she nearly always is. I’ve ridden in every one of my family’s Audis and driven many of them. The Q4 E-Tron rides as if someone simply ordered, “Crank the ID.4’s firmness up for the Audi”—and left it at that. The front-strut and multi-link rear suspension needs softer damping.
The Q4 E-Tron is the mass-appeal entry-level electric car Audi needs, but it’s not the one it deserves. With a base price of $50,995 it’s nearly $10,000 more than the ID.4 almost to the dollar. Sadly this Audi simply isn’t worth the premium over a Volkswagen. Not even to this Audi fan.
2023 Audi Q4 E-Tron
Base price: $50,995, including destination
Price as tested: $64,765
Powertrain: 295-hp dual-motor, single-speed transmission, 82-kwh battery pack (gross)
EPA range: 236 miles
The hits: Tight turning radius, good interior space, wakes up and goes to sleep
The misses: Middling build quality, cheap materials, intrusive dashboard, poorly tuned suspension
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