The Q4 E-tron is an all-electric mid- sized crossover SUV that majors on interior space, on-board technology and, of course, typically refined, responsive zero-emissions running. Dynamic performance and handling and design appeal are important strengths for the car too, says Audi – although, as we’ll see, those claims are a little more open to question.

The car has sprung from the Volkswagen’s Group’s strategically vital MEB electric car platform, and will be built not in an Audi factory but instead alongside the closely related VW ID 4 in Zwickau, Germany. It splits the difference between Audi’s Q3 and Q5 SUVs almost perfectly on height and length. Being an EV with a heavy under-floor drive battery stretching almost the full width and length available within the wheelbase, the Q4 weighs more than either a conventionally powered Q3 or Q5, though: 2050kg in running order in the case of our test car, and up to 2135kg for a range-topping version.

Brands like Audi have spent decades developing cars with a ‘premium gap’ – a space between the front axle and windscreen base in which a powerful engine might notionally reside. The Q4 E-tron doesn’t even have a little one.

The car comes in three mechanical derivatives, two of which have a single permanently excited synchronous motor cradled above their rear wheels that drives those rear wheels exclusively. In the entry- level Q4 E-tron 35, that motor makes 168bhp and draws power from a drive battery with usable capacity of 52kWh. In the mid-range 40 (as tested), it makes 201bhp (but the same 229lb ft) and has 77kWh of usable electricity storage to draw on.

The range-topping 50 quattro, meanwhile, adopts the bigger battery but has a second, front-mounted electric motor mounted within its chassis (an asynchronous one this time), giving it 295bhp and 339lb ft in all – as well as dual-motor four-wheel drive. In the range-topping trim, then, the Q4 E-tron has a 112mph top speed and can knock off 0-62mph in a little over six seconds. In as-tested mid-range form, though, those claims are a less Tesla-rivalling 99mph and 8.5sec respectively.

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Ingolstadt’s design efforts to make the Q4 fit in as a modern Audi and stand out as a premium offering include an octagonal grille (which many testers felt looks a little strange, featuring as it does on a largely sealed front end) as well as the firm’s habitually busy, edgy body surfacing.

A long-wheelbase and cabin-forward, short-bonnet proportions all work to undermine Audi’s plan to slot this car smoothly into its familiar showroom range, however. This is not a typical-looking Audi SUV by any stretch; nor might it seem a natural choice among its competitors for fans of bold, appealing exterior design of the kind that the firm has built its brand on for so long. There is a sleeker Sportback bodystyle on offer for Q4 buyers primarily concerned with how their cars look, but that shouldn’t be expected to address many of the EV’s aforementioned design idiosyncrasies.