Home Reviews First Drives Audi Q4 E-Tron: Out of Spec Reviews’ First Impressions

Audi Q4 E-Tron: Out of Spec Reviews’ First Impressions

The Audi Q4 E-Tron is the smaller relative to the existing E-Tron SUV and E-Tron S. Not only is it smaller, but it’s also considerably more affordable and impressively capable. Based on the same MEV platform as the Volkswagon ID.4, many have speculated without seat-time as to how similar it actually is. Well, Kyle sought to find out. As seen in Kyle’s new video on Out of Spec Reviews, he puts it through some real-world driving scenarios, including highways, cities, and winding French hillsides. 

Why Electrify the Q4?

Kyle starts the video with a walk-around, showing the design, including the stunning deep bronze wheels and unique two-tone color scheme. The Q4 40 is the rear-wheel drive variant, featuring 201 hp and 229 lb-ft torque, starting at under $45,000 before incentives. Kyle’s media car, however, is the upgraded Q50, with all-wheel drive and more power, 295 hp and 339 lb-ft torque, bringing the grand total to over $50,000. Still, it’s an impressive value and can easily be configured cheaper than the internal combustion Audi Q5. 

Both trims feature a 77 kWh battery (82 kWh gross), with DC Fast-Charging of 125kW speeds and a range of up to 241 miles for Q50, most likely more for the Q40. Kyle notes the Matrix LED headlights, fully functional on the European spec, but we do not get split-beam in the US due to the regulations. Radar sensor is hidden in the Audi logo on the front grill, which is entirely closed off for aerodynamics. 

Quality and Finish

The Q4 E-Tron certainly adds the Audi flare to the otherwise subdued ID.4 design. The OEM wheels are definitely a look, and most of us at Out of Spec agree on their excellent styling and color choices. Kyle then steps into the interior to note the flattened steering wheel, with top and bottom being flattened, though not completely parallel. Seating position is identical to ID.4, albeit without the massaging seats in this case. US version should have the glass panoramic roof. The heads up display with augmented reality is for Europe, though Kyle points out it certainly has its gimmicks. 

Window switches are normal, much to our relief. ID.4 has a unique toggle switch to determine whether the two buttons control front or rear windows. The Q4 fortunately retains the standard one-button-per-window approach. To start the Q4 E-Tron, you can simply press on the brake until it starts up, assuming the key is in proximity. There is no need to use a power button in standard scenarios. Now let’s get to driving…

Driving Impressions

Luxurious Highway Cruising

Kyle left Italy, crossing into France, embarking on his first AWD adventure in the MEV platform. He’s driven RWD ID.4 extensively, and this adds an induction motor to the front, retaining the permanent magnet motor on the rear. It’s definitely a RWD-biased system, allowing for the AWD version to retain most of the range metrics of the RWD one. He starts by testing regenerative braking, noting the 1-4 scale on levels of regen, the weakest of which results in simply coasting. The strongest helps approach a nearly one-pedal driving, also recovering as much energy as possible. An interesting feature is the adaptive regen, giving stronger regen recovery in traffic scenarios as you brake for a car in adaptive cruise control, but lessens the regen for normal un-obstructed driving. Using efficiency mode, it restricts power to 60%, though when pushing it to the floor, you can always access the full power on tap. 

With the Audi adaptive cruise system, much like ID.4, it uses a capacitive steering wheel to detect hands being on the wheel. This is highly preferred to the traditional torque-sensing systems that require you to jiggle the wheel. Kyle points out the dangers of those who may try to “overcorrect” and jostle the wheel too much, highly dangerous at high speed. Beyond the afore-mentioned efficiency mode, you also have B-mode for the strongest regen braking when off throttle, and S-mode for boost functionality in spirited driving. Speaking of which…

Spirited Canyon Runs

After arriving in France, Kyle scurried up the hillside roads to put it through its paces with some performance-minded driving. There is occasionally some understeer when pushing hard through a corner, but it is generally well-balanced, providing ample power from the rear and blending in the front where needed. In performing a launch, the front induction motor doesn’t provide as much immediate power, but does ramp up with time. So the initial launch feels more RWD, but does prove to be quicker once mid-power bands are reached. 

Another differentiator from the ID.4 is the ability to turn traction control entirely off. It will still retain some rollover stability control, but it definitely enhances the spirited driving capabilities. Even in full dynamic mode, Kyle points out the suspension soaks up an impressive amount of bumps once he hit a dirt section of the road. It’s not crowd-stunningly powerful, but it has ample power for most people. Once complaint was the brake pedal itself, being a bit stiff at times, though very useful in emergency braking where the blending is full-on throwing everything it can to stop you safely. But suspension and throttle calibration is excellent. 

driving in countryside

The front brakes are discs, and the rear features the interesting choice of drum brakes. Audi considered it a feat of engineering, using drum brakes in tandem with the electronic limited-slip differential for its own vectoring. In coming down the mountain, Kyle noted long-term regenerative braking didn’t show any signs of overheating or overwhelming the E-Tron. 

Monotonous City Commutes

Kyle headed down to Monaco to wrap up the video with some basic city driving. Switching it back to comfort mode, the steering wheel became light and airy, and he also realized his SoC (state of charge) had hit 35%. At this point, power was reduced and it would not allow for the use of the full boost. 

In city driving, Kyle mentioned the Sonos Sound system, which is better than the ID.4 offerings, but not as good as the Bang & Olufsen offered in “big brother E-Tron SUV”. In all, it’s simply a more grown-up version of the ID.4 in many ways. Where the ID.4 has simplicity and even a fun, light-hearted interior and infotainment, the Audi Q4 E-Tron carries a more sophisticated presence, not unlike the button-up shirt Kyle chose to wear in the video. A sharp contrast to his usual dress code.

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I love the trajectory of transportation. It's always fascinating to see the emergence of technology within vehicles, and how they compete. I have a tremendous appreciation for EVs and old British all-mechanical roadsters alike. My personal daily driver is a NC Miata, but hoping to add an EV to the mix soon.