Currently reading: Video | Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: through the lens of an FPV drone pilot
Discover how 323 miles of all-electric range, responsive performance and advanced in-car tech are the perfect match for a new creative vision

Advanced aerial drones have revolutionised filmmaking, offering never-before-seen perspectives that elevate visual storytelling to the next level. Now, first-person-view (FPV) drones are changing the game again, using VR goggles to put the pilot directly in the hot-seat for even-more dynamically thrilling results.

It’s a similar game-changing story with the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: the latest in Audi’s fast-growing line-up of advanced all-electric e-tron models. It sports up to 323 miles of range (WLTP) and ultra-rapid 125kW charging that delivers big boosts of range in just a few minutes. Equally, its impressive performance and advanced driving tech – including a digital cockpit and fighter-jet-style head-up display – are perfectly complemented by a refined cosseting ride and lots of practical space.

That’s why we gave an Audi Q4 Sportback 40 e-tron to FPV drone pilot Chris Wilkinson: asking him to help us tell the story of the car from a fresh point-of-view, while also finding out if it’s the perfect car for his busy dynamic creative lifestyle.

Learn more about the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

Perfect for long-haul travel

“I’ve always been fascinated by things that fly,” says Chris. “Before drones existed, I loved the idea of capturing images from above. So, I ended up strapping a camera to a helium balloon! First-person view is an awesome way of flying a drone. Wearing the goggles, it’s like you’re in the cockpit, so it’s much more connected and you tend to capture much more dynamic shots.”

When it comes to working on busy film productions, the range to get you to far-flung locations is everything. The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s high-capacity 82kWh (gross capacity) lithium-ion battery boasts a range of up to 323 miles (WLTP) on selected models – with the Audi Q4 Sportback Edition 1 40 e-tron we gave to Chris offering up to 313 miles. 

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As the crow (or the drone) flies, that’s the distance from London to Carlisle, giving Chris the confidence to travel to shoots right across the UK.

A choice of advanced driving modes let you pick more dynamic or more efficient power delivery to maximise range. Equally, advanced regenerative braking – which captures unused energy while decelerating to extend your range – can easily be dialled up or down to suit your mood or need.

“We cover around 30,000 miles a year travelling up and down the country, so I’ve been apprehensive about using an electric vehicle,” he says. “I was really impressed with how little the battery depleted after what seems like a lot of driving. Plus, you can conserve energy with the different driving modes, so that’s really handy.”

If you do need to top-up your battery, the option of 125kW ultra-rapid recharging delivers big boosts of range in a short time that fits around your day – whether it’s charging from 5% to 80% in as little as approximately 38 minutes (giving Chris the perfect pause to grab lunch, recharge the drone and check footage and emails), or adding 80 miles in just 10 minutes, letting you grab a coffee to give your creative energy a fresh boost.

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Chart your route through the cloud

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s in-car navigation makes finding charging points easy. Audi’s innovative Virtual Cockpit and large central MMI Navigation Plus touchscreen with Audi Connect internet connectivity let you share info across the two screens by intuitive voice control or fingertip command – including high-res Google Earth satellite images that offer a crisp, clear view of the world around you.

An ‘e-tron’ route planner calculates your optimum route based on the best balance of journey time, efficiency and the location of appropriate public charging points. Audi’s advanced navigation system even shares data with other Audi vehicles through the cloud to deliver accurate traffic information, while offering data for on-street parking alongside apps for news, weather and travel updates.

Using the advanced remote connectivity offered by the myAudi smartphone app, you can even prepare the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron for long days of driving and shooting before you’ve left the breakfast table. “We’re often up super-early to catch the light,” Chris admits. “It’s one of the best times to be out with a camera.”

The myAudi app lets you control charging of the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron remotely from your smartphone – as well as pre-heating or pre-cooling the battery and cabin temperature while it’s still plugged in to ensure you set off with maximum range.

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Turn left for first-class comfort

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron certainly stands out from the pack with its striking aerodynamically honed lines, confident SUV stance and sleek compact coupe styling. “It looks really modern, and I love the sporty rear end,” says Chris.

Equally, with its extended wheelbase, low-slung battery and lack of a conventional drivetrain, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s flat-floor interior delivers similar levels of space to that of a mid-size SUV from the next class up.

The result: lots of up-front comfort and rear legroom for long-haul journeys, an impressive 25 litres of cabin storage for odds and ends like FPV goggles and camera lenses, and between 520 and 1490 litres of luggage space for packed shoots. “The boot is huge,” says Chris. “There’s more than enough room for all my kit.” 

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s interior is also as plush as it is practical. Alongside a range of premium interior trims, you can pick eco-friendly seat materials that deliver ‘feel-good’ comfort in every sense of the phrase. The suede-like Dinamica microfibre and elaborate yarn-like Pulse upholstery are made from up to 50% recycled materials, giving around 26 large 1.5-litre plastic bottles a new purpose in life.

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Seamless smartphone and app connectivity with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto help you fill your journey with your favourite music and podcasts, or maximise your time by staying in touch with work, friends and family through safe hands-free voice calls. 

Equally, Audi’s new partnership with acclaimed audio specialists Sonos gives you the option of a new premium sound system that blends advanced algorithms and a 10-speaker layout with 580-watt amplifiers to generate three-dimensional surround sound that feels like you’re in the heart of the orchestra or band.

Allied to whisper-quiet all-electric drive, it all serves to make the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron wonderfully cossetting for long-distance travel. “I was amazed how smooth and quiet it is,” says Chris. “The interior is so solid and luxurious. And, when you close the door, you’re in a bubble. As it’s so comfortable, I ended up arriving at the shoot really relaxed. It makes you far more productive and creative.”

Ready for take-off

Much like flying an FPV drone with VR goggles, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is all about putting the driver in the hot-seat. Take Audi’s sporty new-generation double-spoke steering wheel, which breaks new ground with smartphone-style backlit controls that let you use touch and list-friendly swipe gestures with instant response.

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Also available is an all-new and pioneering augmented reality head-up display. Working just like the head-up display in a fighter jet, it projects key driving data – whether it’s dynamic animated floating arrows for navigation, or visual prompts for driver assistance functions such as lane assist – directly onto the windscreen, right in your eyeline, helping you focus more keenly on the road ahead.

“One of the great things about this Audi is that the driving position feels natural,” says Chris. “Everything is angled nicely to the driver, everything is in reach, you can use the touchscreen easily, and you really feel you’re in control. The Virtual Cockpit is great, as it gives you all essential information right in front of you, while the head-up display means you don’t even have to look away from the road.”

When you’re ready to start your journey, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron offers a range of powertrain choices all the way from the Q4 35 e-tron with 170PS and 310Nm of torque, right up to the electrifying 50 e-tron quattro with 299PS, 460Nm of torque, confidence-inspiring all-wheel-drive and a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds. Each powertrain offers immediate electric torque and incredible responsiveness.

The low-slung position of the battery delivers near 50:50 weight distribution for perfectly balanced handling, while the sport suspension on selected models reacts to the road conditions at five-millisecond intervals for a more refined and confidence-inspiring ride. At higher motorway speeds the car can even hunker closer to the ground by 15mm to deliver a more aerodynamic and efficient profile. 

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Even for someone used to the impressive acceleration and nimble aerobatics of an FPV drone, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron’s performance has proved impressive to Chris. “Precision handling and instant bursts of power are essential for great shots with a drone,” he says. “With the Audi, I was amazed by the instant response. Plus, the handling is so precise, you really feel connected with it and totally in control.”

Sit back and enjoy the flight

Intense and heavily skill-reliant, piloting an FPV drone is no relaxing affair - that’s where the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is different. Crammed full of advanced driver assistance technologies – both inside and out – the Q4 Sportback e-tron is as cossetting as it is engaging, as safe as it is confidence-inspiring on the road.

Starting up front, optional Matrix LED headlights help carve a path through dark, rain and fog with precision. A total of 16 individual LED lights cut through the horizon – like a drone blade cuts through the air – to help make all your journeys easier and safer.

When on the road, systems like lane departure warning, collision avoidance assist and turn assist help keep you on the straight and narrow, while intelligent radar and camera systems can deploy emergency braking if an imminent collision is detected – helping to keep you relaxed around town.

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Traffic sign recognition and speed limiter both come as standard, helping you always stick to the appropriate speed, while adaptive cruise control with adaptive cruise assist – helping with lateral guidance – can help you always maintain a safe distance to the car in front while staying totally calm. 

When you arrive at your destination, surround view cameras give you a helicopter view that helps make parking easy and safe, while exit warning is an extra pair of eyes that will warn you not to open your door if a car or cyclist is approaching. 

Ultimately, when it comes to going electric, the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron has got Chris excited by the prospect of making the switch. “I’m a cyclist and a big believer in reducing our impact on the environment, but we all need cars to get around,” he says. “It’s a balance. But driving this car has made me really excited about the future of electric vehicles.”

Learn more about the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

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