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2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron First Drive: Sophisticated, Stylish, And Serene

With the addition of the 2022 Audi E-Tron Q4 and Q4 E-Tron Sportback, Audi now has five all-electric models available in the US, and that's more than any other automaker. 

However, even though sales for the brand's three existing all-electric offerings continue to rise, the total still represents less than 10% of Audi's overall US sales. That's not great numbers for a company that has committed to introducing its final new combustion model only three years from now and pledging to have a fully electric portfolio by 2033.  

Quick Stats 2022 Audi Q4 40 e-tron RWD
Motor AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous
Output 201 hp
Battery 82 kWh (total capacity)  77 kWh (usable capacity)
Range 265 miles
Base Price $48,800 

If Audi can make good electric vehicles, why haven't more electric Audis ended up in garages across the country? The answer is pretty simple: the price. The brand's first three BEV models; the E-Tron, the E-Tron Sportback, and the RS E-Tron GT have starting MSRPs of  $70,800, $74,000, and $104,900, respectively. Optioned up the average price of all three combined is probably in the $85,000 to $90,000 range. Even with available federal and state incentives, those vehicles are out of reach for the vast majority of Americans. 

Enter the Audi Q4 E-Tron and Q4 E-Tron Sportback. The Q4 E-Tron line will be Audi's most affordable all-electric offering, beginning at $48,800 for the rear-wheel-drive Q4 E-Tron 40. That's $22,000 - nearly one-third less than the cost of the least expensive current E-Tron.

But price alone won't sell the Q4 E-Tron, it will need to stand out among the growing list of BEVs in this category. There is a lot of competition in the electric compact crossover SUV segment, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Ford Mustang Mach-e, the soon-to-launch Nissan Ariya, and even the Q4's cousin, the Volkswagen ID.4.

Looking at the premium electric vehicles in this segment, the Genesis GV60, the Tesla Model Y as well as the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Volvo C40 Recharge will likely be the Q4 E-Tron's top competitors. 

Gallery: 2022 Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback

The Q4 E-Tron utilizes the Volkswagen Group's popular MEB (Modular Electric Drive matrix) platform that underpins six other electric vehicles around the world (Audi Q5 E-Tron (Currently available in China only) Cupra Born, Škoda Enyaq iV, Škoda Enyaq Coupé iV, Volkswagen ID.3, and Volkswagen ID.4).

The Q4 E-Tron arrives in three flavors: 

  • Q4 40 E-Tron: Rear-wheel-drive; 265-mile EPA range rating
  • Q4 50 E-Tron Quattro: All-wheel-drive; 236-mile EPA rating
  • Q4 Sportback 50 E-Tron Quattro: All-wheel-drive; 242-mile EPA rating

The only real difference between the Sportback and crossover versions is the aggressive rake of the rear hatch and the rear cargo volume. Oddly enough, the Sportback is listed to have slightly more cargo volume, even though that seems to be counterintuitive. 

Audi lists the Sportback as having 26.1 cubic feet of volume behind the rear seats and 54.4 cubic feet with the 40/20/40 rear seats folded down. The crossover versions are listed as having 24.8 cubic feet and 53.1 cubic feet., respectively. A few of the other journalists at the media event and I tried to figure this out with the two vehicles parked next to each other because visually, it appeared that they were the same, and if anything, the edge should go to the hatchback. 

Our instincts were correct, and an Audi rep explained that the way the EPA measured the cargo area is the cause for the difference. The interior of Sportback's hatch is more concave so it measures slightly longer than the crossover, however, that measurement doesn't really add any usable space. The crossover will actually accommodate larger boxes and provide more usable cargo space as its opening is taller and so is the volume above the seatback, which doesn't count in official EPA volume measurements.

Battery and charging

All versions of the Q4 E-Tron utilize the same 82 kWh battery pack that the ID.4 employs, which is comprised of 24 modules with each module containing 24 pouch-style battery cells. Like the ID.4, Audi is making 77 kWh of the 82 kWh battery pack available for use and holding the remaining 5 kWh as a battery buffer to help extend the battery's usable capacity life.

Audi Q4 e-tron (all versions)
Charging Source Charging Time
150 kW DC Fast Charger 5% to 80% in 36 minutes
48-amp Level 2 Charging 0-100% 7.5 hours
40-amp Level 2 Charging 0-100% 9 hours
120-v Household Outlet 0-100% 55 hours (estimate)

Charging the Q4 E-Tron will take about nine hours when using the supplied dual-voltage 40-amp portable charging cable that comes with the vehicle. However, when using the 120-v adapter and charging from a household outlet, the Q4 E-Tron will need about 55 hours to charge from 0 to 100%.

As with all BEVs, the 120-v charging cable can work in a pinch, but most owners will find 240-v level two home charging to be the most convenient. Audi has teamed up with Qmerit to simplify the EV charging installation needs of Q4 E-Tron owners. 

The Q4 50 e-tron quattro at an Electrify America DC fast charge station

When charging on the go, the Q4 E-Tron has a maximum DC fast charge rate of 150 kW and Audi claims a 5% to 80% fast charge time of 36 minutes when charging from a 150 kW DC fast charger. We had the opportunity to test that claim during the first-drive event and it took us 37 minutes, which is close enough to confirm the automaker's claim.

During our charging session, we saw a peak charge rate of 140 kW. So perhaps in ideal conditions, the Q4 E-Tron may even charge slightly quicker from 5% to 80% than Audi claims. 

Audi has teamed up with Electrify America to include 250 kWh of complimentary charging for all Q4 E-Tron customers. That should be enough for 4 or 5 "fill-ups" and provide the power for roughly 800 miles of driving. 

On the road

We drove a Q4 E-Tron 50 Quattro around Southern California and the dual-motor setup delivering 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque provided enough punch for a spirited driving experience. Audi states a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds for the Quattro versions of the crossover and Sportback, and 7.9 seconds for the RWD Q4 40 E-Tron. 

We did, however, notice a slight hesitation in power delivery when you hit the accelerator hard. It wasn't much, but we've become so used to feeling the instant torque of electric motors take over before the accelerator even reaches the floor, that any hesitation is noticeable. It wasn't much, but it is there, and probably costs the Q4 about 0.1 seconds in its 0-60 time. 

While we didn't have any track time with the vehicle, the Q4 felt planted and well equipped to handle as much spirited driving as most potential owners will ask of it, although when pressed, it's not too hard to initiate a fair amount of body roll. It took the s-curves along our route with aplomb, and the braking system (which, like the ID.4, includes drum brakes in the rear) slowed down the vehicle effortlessly when called upon to do so. 

The regenerative braking system has two levels, drive, and B-mode which increases the level of regeneration, and the Premium Plus package includes regen on-demand paddles that increase or decrease the level of regeneration. There is, however, no on-pedal-driving mode available, and the Q4's regenerative braking will only slow the vehicle down to about 2 mph and crawl about at the speed until you use the physical brakes to bring it to a stop. 

  Q4 40 e-tron RWD Q4 50 e-tron Quattro Q4 50 e-tron S-Back Quattro
Horsepower 201 295 295
Top Speed 99 112 112
Drivetrain RWD Quattro Quattro
Battery Capacity (tot/net) 82/77 82/77 82/77
Range 265 236 242
MPGe (city/highway/comb) 112/94/103 97/97/93 100/98/95

The Q4 40 E-Tron comes standard with the Premium package and has an optional Premium Plus. The Q4 50 (crossover and Sportback) also add an optional Prestige package that adds animated headlights and taillights, an augmented reality head-up display, LED Matrix headlights, and a headlight washer system. The animated headlight system offers four different light lamp configurations for daytime running lights. 

We used the navigation system to route us to charging stations and it worked fine. We even entered destinations that were well beyond the available driving range of 236 miles and the Q4 suggested the most convenient DC fast charging stops along the route. 

We used the adaptive cruise assistant with lane guidance on the highway and it worked very well. The Q4 remained centered in the lane without any "ping-pong" effect that some lane-centering systems have that causes the vehicle to bounce between the lines a bit.

The interior does have a little more hard plastic than we'd prefer, but there are also plenty of soft touches. The seats, for instance, were very comfortable and supportive, and the center armrest has two levels of adjustable height. There are plenty of places to hold cups and bottles and Audi has even added bottle holders in all four doors that are big enough to hold liter bottles.  

Overall, its road manners were what we have come to expect from most Audi vehicles. You feel connected to the road but the primary consideration is comfort and in that vein, the Q4 feels and drives like an Audi. Customers that are new to electric drive will appreciate the benefits that EVs offer, like the quiet cabin and smooth liner acceleration, but also get the fit, finish and feel expected in an Audi. 

Gallery: 2022 Audi Q4 e-tron

The Q4 E-Tron is a compelling offering. Yes, it does enter a segment that's very crowded with no less than eight direct all-electric competitors, but it does so with the style and sophistication that few others in the class have. We love the E-Tron, but after driving the Q4 E-Tron for a day we can't help but think we'd take a Q4 50 E-Tron Quattro and keep the $17K in a heartbeat. 

The combination of Audi quality, driving characteristics, comfort, and a relatively affordable starting price of $48,800, (which, while may still seem expensive is actually the price of the average new car in the US) should add up to the Q4 being a breakthrough electric vehicle for Audi. We suspect the Q4 will bring new buyers into the Audi brand as well as offer existing Audi enthusiasts an easier entry point to transition to electric. 

And that's important for a brand that has pledged to be all-electric by 2033. While the E-Tron and RS E-Tron GT may have proved that Audi can make great EVs, they still needed to show that they could make great EVs that you didn't have to sell your house to afford. The Q4 E-Tron and Q4 E-Tron Sportback do that, and that's good news for consumers as well as for the brand.

Audi Q4 E-Tron Frequently Asked Questions

Is the 2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron available?

Yes. After some production delays, the 2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron has been on sale for a few weeks now. Oddly, order books for the 2023 model are open, though with only minor trim and detail changes.

Is the Audi Q4 E-Tron fully electric?

Yes. The Audi Q4 E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback are both fully electric. Audi claims it has the largest EV lineup on the market, with the Q4 and its Sportback variant, the larger E-Tron SUV and its Sportback variant, and the sleek E-Tron GT sedan.

Is the Q4 E-Tron all-wheel-drive?

Actually, the Q4 E-Tron is one of the few Audis in history to offer rear-wheel drive – the base model comes only with a rear-mounted electric motor. Upgrade to the dual-motor variant if you want all-wheel drive.

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