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2023 Audi Q4 e-tron Review: A Positive Drive, With Some Caveats ...

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron | Photo: V.Aubé
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Vincent Aubé
The bitter early-February cold affected the new small electric SUV on a few levels
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Profile
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Profile | Photo: V.Aubé

•    Auto123 reviews the 2023 Audi Q4 e-tron.

•    The new model’s range was greatly affected by the intense cold of early February.

•    Driving pleasure is the greatest strength of this new “affordable" EV from the German brand.

In 2023, Audi is no longer limited to the e-tron SUV duo and e-tron GT super sedan (based on the same skeleton as the Porsche Taycan) in its EV offering. For some time now, Audi has featured in its lineup the Q4 e-tron and its Sportback sloping-roof variant.

The newcomer is for all intents and purposes a fancier version of the Volkswagen ID.4. The two German crossovers share many components, including the MEB (Modular Electric Drive matrix) platform. 

Nuts and bolts are one thing, but the Audi and VW cousins had to have distinct identities. After all, to convince consumers to spend several thousand dollars more on a vehicle, Audi needed to have some pretty arguments to make. 

It’s with this in mind that we test-drove the new electric crossover, which is joining a category that's in full expansion mode right now, needless to say.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Three-quarters rear
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Three-quarters rear | Photo: V.Aubé

New identity
Beyond its technical similarities to the Volkswagen ID.4, the Q4 e-tron is very Audi in appearance, the brand's designers successfully disguising the model's VW origins. The bumper still makes use of a prominent “grille”, but it's a single panel, as is the case with a majority of electric vehicles. I particularly like the way this panel fits into the front of the crossover, while the S-Line exterior package adds a dose of aggression to the lower portion of the bumper.

On the flanks, the ridges in the front and rear fenders recall Audi’s motorsport heritage. The 20-inch wheels are just the right size to fill those bulging wheel arches. 

The rear portion of the crossover is more conventional, with a rear window that's fairly limited in height and a parking light that spans the width of the vehicle. Most notably, the design of the Q4 e-tron allows it to blend in quite well on the road with its reserved compact crossover look.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Interior
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Interior | Photo: V.Aubé

Typical Audi interior
It's a bit of a similar story inside, which is recognizably Audi, especially in the first row. There the dashboard quickly makes you forget about the Volkswagen ID.4’s problematic touch-sensitive buttons. Indeed, you may have noticed from our images that in the centre of the dashboard, a series of traditional buttons are grouped together to control the climate control and seat heating seat functions. Yes, those buttons are small, but they’re simple and easy to use on a daily basis. 

The other difference with the VW is that the screen is actually integrated into the dashboard, as opposed to the tacked-on ID.4 screen. In fact, the slightly slanted angle towards the driver is another strong point of the Q4. The screen is very responsive, as are the quality of its graphics. The icons are of good size, but there are a lot of them. I sometimes had to stop to figure out the multiple applications of the infotainment system.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Seating
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Seating | Photo: V.Aubé

Other qualities of the Q4 up front include the almost rectangular steering wheel that's super comfortable to hold; Audi is frankly unmatched at designing ergonomic steering wheels. I should also mention the small rectangle that serves as a gearshift lever, although a good old-fashioned one would have been more appropriate here, but considering the limited space available, it's easy to see why the designers opted for this solution.

The bucket seats in the first row are surprisingly comfortable for what we've become accustomed to over the years. They’re comfy as well in back, except maybe not if you squeeze three adults in there for any length of time. Three kids, no problem, but adults… 

Finally, cargo space is exactly the same as in a Q5. The Q4 e-tron also offers underfloor storage for a charger or any other valuables that need to be hidden from view.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Dashboard
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Dashboard | Photo: V.Aubé

On the road?
The Q4 e-tron’s output is the same as the ID.4's most-powerful trim - 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of peak torque. Fitted with a pair of motors, the Q4 e-tron is exclusively four-wheel drive in Canada. The 82-kWh battery is the same as in the ID.4 model, which equates to a Natural Resources Canada (RnC) calculated range of 380 km in the Audi. 

For now, that's a little less generous than VW's crossover, which offers a possible 410 km with all-wheel drive. However, we can expect an upgrade for the Q4 e-tron similar to the one given the ID.4 model for 2023, which could lead to a slight increase in range.

On the other hand, the Q4 e-tron does leave the ID.4 behind in terms of the more engaged driving experience it delivers. That comes via quicker, heavier steering and a suspension that, while designed for comfort first, is firm enough to allow for high-velocity cornering. And unlike the VW, this crossover offers an all-wheel drive system that allows for disconnecting the front axle to increase range.

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Wheel
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Wheel | Photo: V.Aubé

Unfortunately, braking isn't the Q4's greatest strength, as the vehicle uses drums on the second axle, like the Volkswagen. Will we see an SQ4 e-tron variant equipped with brakes that really bite? We can hope.

Overall, the Audi Q4 e-tron is no match for the competition's crossovers (Tesla Model Y, Volvo XC40 Recharge, etc.) when it comes to range or even the power available under the right foot. 

And just how good is that range in winter, you ask? Well, the cold snap we were under for the duration of our test drive sapped the range of our tester. On a full charge, the on-board computer gave us 260 km, which represents a loss of about 30 percent compared to the optimal range of 380 km for the Q4 e-tron 50 Quattro variant. On the coldest Saturday morning of the winter (about -40°C), the theoretical range displayed on the screen even dropped to 210 km, almost half of the official range. To be fair, these conditions only happen very rarely. 

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Logo
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Logo | Photo: V.Aubé

The final word
Now with a more affordable EV in its lineup, Audi can finally hope to entice more EV-ready motorists, for whom the two current e-tron-badged models are just too darn expensive. 

Whether the Q4 is as attractive as other electric SUVs of comparable size is debatable. The model should do well intitially, because at hte moment demand is vey high and supplies are still pretty low. Some consumers may be choosing a particular model simply because it is available.

But when inventories of electric SUVs start to grow again, and as more models hit the market, that could hurt the Q4 e-tron and its Sportback variant a bit more.

Still, given its lower asking price compared to other e-tron models, the Q4 e-tron is likely to become Audi's top-selling EV in the near-future.

The competition

BMW iX
Cadillac Lyriq
Genesis GV60
Jaguar I-PACE
Lexus RZ
Mercedes-Benz EQB
Tesla Model Y
Volvo XC40 Recharge/C40 Recharge

Some of your questions about the Audi Q4:

What is the base price of the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 Quattro?
The starting price for this EV is $59,950.

What is the theoretical range of the German SUV?
For the moment, we're talking about 380 km (Q4 e-tron) and 389 km (Q4 e-tron Sportback). We can expect an update equivalent to the one received by the VW ID.4 for 2023, that is, a slight increase in range.

Specifications sheet of 2023 Audi Q4 e-tron

2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Detail
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron - Detail | Photo: V.Aubé

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Photos:V.Aubé
2023 Audi Q4 e-tron pictures
Vincent Aubé
Vincent Aubé
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 60 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists