Watching as the cars we all know, and the companies behind them, switch from reciprocating pistons to electric motors over the coming years will probably feel strange and unsettling at times.
As the market’s landscape is made anew, very few of those familiar, bankable automotive-market truths that we’ve always taken for granted are likely to remain fixed. This week, another one bites the dust as Audi branches out into the business end of the market for electric cars for the very first time.
The Q4 E-tron – Ingolstadt’s third all-electric model following the larger Audi E-tron SUV of 2018 and the E-tron GT four-door sports car that was introduced in the UK earlier this year – becomes Audi’s first-ever volume-selling, rear-wheel-drive car. The firm, whose association with front-wheel drive extends back to the 1930s and which famously branched out to develop quattro four-wheel drive in the 1980s, has only ever made rear-driven derivatives of the R8 supercar before.
Its refusal to follow the classic mechanical type of its luxury-level rivals with its regular passenger cars has, at times over the decades, bordered on pig-headedness. Now, with so much that’s new and unfamiliar about its first affordable EV, perhaps Audi is hoping that we won’t notice as one of the technical principals that it has always clung to falls by the wayside – or perhaps that we won’t care.