We are at the dawn of the “electrify all the things” era in the automotive industry, and Audi is off to a great start. As of the 2023 model year, in addition to the standalone e-tron SUV (in regular and sportback versions) and the e-tron GT sports sedan, Audi offers the Q4 e-tron, which also comes in a sportback version. They sent us a Navarra Blue 2022 Q4 Sportback e-tron with the Prestige package to drive for a week. Let’s see what’s what, and whether this new luxury EV should be on your shopping list.
2022 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron Overview
The Q4 e-tron was brand new for 2022, and the two-row five seater shares it’s technical bits with the Volkswagen ID.4. As I noted above, our tester was a 2022, but most of the information I will show you in this section for the current 2023 model should be pretty accurate. The only big changes were a larger 11.6-inch touchscreen (up from 10.1-inches for 2022) and updates to the augmented reality tech for infotainment system on the inside, plus standard S-Line touches on the outside for the base model. So, not drastically different…except for the price.
Importantly, for 2023, the sportback is $8,400 more than the regular Q4-etron, starting at $58,200. The Prestige, like our tester, adds enough to ramp things up to $65,900 before additional options.
It’s at this point that you’ll notice that there is a price discrepancy between 2022 and 2023. The base for 2023 starts at $58,200, up six grand from last year. Out the door (in the past) was $60,090 for a 2022, while the “price as built” for the same vehicle in 2023 is $67,690. We’ve seen some upward adjustment on other EVs, particularly premium models, so I suppose that’s not a big surprise.
Still, it comes with a boatload of stuff, you can peruse the Monroney above. Other than the Prestige package, the only other add-ons were $595 for Navarra Blue metallic paint. Let’s get deep into the experience of the Q4 e-tron sportback to see if it’s worth the price (well, the one in the past).
2022 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron Inside & Out
The Q4 has a nice slippery shape, the overall profile reminds me of the Genesis GV60 EV that I reviewed recently. I’m not always a fan of the “coupe” style SUV, but Audi has perfected it better than some others (looking at you X4). Up front a big Audi grille exists for no other reason than just to blend into the lineup vs. provide any improved cooling. It looks pretty good though, with a tasteful pattern and premium touches across the exterior.
The split five-spoke wheels look good, always good to see something other than black. A note on that for 2023, the Black optic plus package ($950) is only for the interior for the Q4 vs. some other Audi models which include dark trim on the outside as well. Navarra Blue is a great color, with a deep tone that looks good in any light. Also interesting, the only other color choices for the Q5 e-tron are black, white, and gray (all $595 upgrades except gray).
The inside is also upscale and laid out fairly well with a sweeping dashboard. Wow, so much dashboard, I’d estimate that it’s probably the better part of three feet from tip to tail. The infotainment screen is angled towards the driver, which may make for an interesting debate over music settings out on a long road trip.
The “button” interface (or lack thereof) is much better than the Volkswagen setup. There are actually some real buttons for HVAC/comfort controls while in most new VWs, it’s all smooth touch controls. The steering wheel has haptic touch controls, you swipe up to turn up the volume for example. There is another other option, a circular controller mounted on the panel that juts out of the dash that also houses the shifter and start/stop button. You can slide your finger around it to turn the volume up or down or you can press down for track, power, or mute. It’s fine. I couldn’t get good images of the interior with the screens switched on since it would shut off as soon as I got out. I suppose that might make sense to save battery.
However, just like the fantastic Audi RS 3 I just reviewed (and still want badly), the temperature up and down buttons for the HVAC are completely dark at night. No clue which one is which, but you’d likely get used to that as an owner. Other criticisms on the interior were minimal, the piano black surrounding the doorhandles on the other side of the car are distracting while driving (as well as always dirty). I regularly found myself glancing at reflections that made me feel like there is a vehicle or object right beside me. Another reason to hate piano black.
Passenger and cargo room were ample, with 37.2 inches of legroom in the back and 26.1 cu-ft of space in the rear cargo area. That is, befuddlingly, more than the standard Q4 e-tron which only has 24.8 cu-ft. Most sportback models have less space because of the sloping rear, which is the case with the e-tron, but not in this case. Length, height, and wheelbase are all the same, while the sportback is .7-inches shorter.
Witchcraft. Though the “reg” Q4 e-tron has another inch of rear legroom, so that’s likely where the difference lies.
2022 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron On The Road
My first drive in the Q4 sportback e-tron wasn’t ideal. There was an issue with the electric system, and I had very little power the first time I drove it. I’m not 100% sure what happened, you could literally floor it off of the line, and it would ever so slowly pull away from a light. When I stopped it gave me a warning notice and a restart fixed it and it never came back. I guess IT support was right, just restart it.
The gearshift felt pretty intuitive and is easy to feel when you reach down, plus it looks looks slick,. However, when I went to put it in reverse at one point to pull out of a parallel spot, I accidently put it in drive. Likely one of those things you’d get used to as an owner. Like most Audis, the Q4 e-tron has a variety of driving modes. It’s interesting that the range estimate does not change based on what drive mode you choose. However “efficiency” does limit you to 80mph!
I don’t quite understand the infatuation with putting steering wheel paddles on electric vehicles, maybe it is cost savings since it is already there on other vehicles? This one does some sort of battery regeneration, I didn’t really notice a difference in performance. When you click the left pedal, it slows you down using regenerative braking as if you are downshifting a petrol-powered car. In dynamic mode it would stay in the same “gear” you select, again similar to an ICE vehicle.
Out on the highway, the lane keeping system isn’t super intrusive, however it does make a funny little red curve on the heads up display encouraging you to move that direction. Similar to the e-tron I drove not too long ago, the Q4 e-tron sportback drives like a pretty normal SUV, which is a good thing.
2022 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron Summary
While the Q4 may look like that e-tron, it’s significantly smaller. How much smaller, well it’s 12.3-inches shorter (less long?), and a few inches more narrow (less wide?). It’s significantly cheaper though, the e-tron sportback starts at just over $89,000. So, the Q4 slots in (as you would expect) between the Q3 and Q5. Neither of those has an e-tron version yet, though you can get the Q5 as a plug-in hybrid. The value proposition for the Q4 sportback e-tron then is one of size and cost. It drives well, has a decent amount of features and options. So, if it fits into your budget, perhaps it is a “just right” size in the current Audi lineup. Just realize that the 2023 is going to cost you a good bit more than this 2022 would have.
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