Most elaborate version of Audi’s first foray into the electric family crossover market arrives in UK

What is it?

The Q4 E-tron SUV first bobbed up as a concept in 2019 and is already well recognised as Audi's first foray into EVs for ordinary motorists, as is its close relationship under the skin with Volkswagen's well-received ID 4

Yet despite these everyman connections, it would still be decidedly out of character if Ingolstadt’s purveyor of premium didn’t offer a blingier, go-faster version of its everyman model – especially in the UK, where extras are a way of life and nearly always make a lucrative contribution to a manufacturer’s bottom line.

Step forward the Q4 E-tron 50 Sportback Quattro, which comes with fastback styling, four-wheel drive, the bigger of two offered battery packs, two electric motors instead of one (one front, one rear, producing a combined 294bhp) and delivering brisk 0-62mph acceleration of 6.2sec.

You can get this package in each of four different trim levels, but our test car came, very sensibly, in the relatively elaborate £57,565 Edition 1 trim that many UK buyers will choose, a step below the ultimate £65,000 Vorsprung.

Audi is proud of what it believes are the car's new, snub-nosed proportions, the short front overhang and long wheelbase enabled by compact motors and the low-mounted battery pack between the front and rear axles.

2 Audi q4 e tron sportback 2021 uk fd hero side

What's it like?

For a very well-equipped and relatively high car of roughly Ford Focus dimensions, the Q4 E-tron Sportback is spacious, especially in the rear; and, at 2100kg, around 100kg lighter than some rivals at the kerb. Audi says there’s as much cabin room as in a conventional SUV from the class above.

On the road, the Q4 E-tron Sportback feels instantly quick, mostly because its four-wheel traction is so effective off the mark, in the wet or dry. The car always feels neutral, well-planted and responsive, although not exactly agile, perhaps because of its fairly long (2764mm) wheelbase. 

The steering is quick and decently responsive around the straight-ahead, and although the ride is adjustable through five different regimes (that also control steering effort, accelerator response and deceleration), it always offers good wheel control, absorbing bumps with one cushioned impact, without echoes. This and excellent build quality give this Audi a feeling of modern, reassuring quality and solidity.

The performance may be accessible, but if deployed without care, the claimed 309-mile range (doubtless achievable with gentle city driving) can fall well below 250 miles. 

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7 Audi q4 e tron sportback 2021 uk fd cabin

Should I buy one?

Even so, this is a practical and spacious family EV, pleasantly brisk yet quiet.

It's not truly sporty, because of its height and bulk, but it is smooth and serene to drive. A successful future in the UK surely beckons.

3 Audi q4 e tron sportback 2021 uk fd hero rear


Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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rob26 28 June 2021

How do cars this hideous get into production? The estate Q4 is fussy but ok. This Sportback is in utter Quasimodo territory. Half of all Mercedes, Audi and BMW SUV coupés look awful. It's basic proportions that surely a chief designer should veto. Does an accountant say "we need a coupé version" and "you can only change 5 body panels"? I know some people will buy this shocker. Audi buyers are not particularly choosy. But don't designers have some self respect? The Q3 sportback is perfectly ok but this Q4 makes me wince!