Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron concept steers sensible electric SUV toward “dynamic elegance”

The upcoming Audi Q4 won’t include just one body style but two, the brand revealed on Tuesday. With the Q4 Sportback E-Tron concept, Audi presents a sexier alternative to the Q4 E-tron SUV concept, both of which it’s now confirmed are heading to production in summer 2021. 

Unlike the larger E-Tron SUV and E-Tron Sportback, the Q4 models will be built on the VW Group modular (MEB) foundation that will underpin a generation of compact and mid-size vehicles. They’ll also be closely related to the Volkswagen ID.4 crossover that’s still due for first deliveries in the U.S. around the end of the year, but compete at a somewhat higher price point likely more closely aligned with the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E.

The Q4 Sportback concept is 181.1 inches long, 63.0 inches tall, and 74.8 inches wide, and it rides on a 109.1-inch wheelbase. Audi confirms that it’s just 0.4 inches longer and lower than the Q4 concept SUV, which made its debut at the 2019 Geneva motor show.  

Audi teases future MEB models next to Q4 E-tron

Audi teases future MEB models next to Q4 E-tron

Except for some subtle trim choices, the  Sportback and SUV models look virtually identical from the front, but the differences are readily apparent in back, where the SUV has a chopped-off roofline and larger rear window and the Sportback has a roofline that follows one clean arc. 

Instead of the Q4 concept SUV’s blacked-out lower-body and window trim, the Q4 Sportback concept opts for more brightwork. 

Although we haven’t seen the Sportback in person, it looks like this sleeker version might play with perspective and look somewhat longer and lower. Audi calls the design theme “dynamic elegance.” The positioning of the Sportback concept’s 22-inch wheels out to the corners, its punctuated fenders, and the accentuated rocker panels create the impression that this is a performance vehicle, although Audi didn’t say it will be tuned for better performance. 

It promises to be spacious enough for four adults and cargo in production form. As our editors can attest from sitting in the Q4 SUV concept, building this vehicle on an electric platform not meant to  accommodate an engine helps make the cabin feel a size larger in usable space—comparable to the brand’s best-selling Q5 model inside. 

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept

A 12.3-inch touchscreen system sits within the dash and is tilted toward the driver, with a strip of physical climate-control buttons directly below, and the large-format head-up display has an “augmented reality” feature that inserts navigation guidance directly onto the windshield where the driver can see it while looking at the road.

Mechanically and electrically, nearly everything about the Q4 Sportback is carried over from the Q4 SUV. Per what Volkswagen and Audi have previously revealed about the MEB platform, the Q4 has a permanent-magnet motor in back, which it primarily uses, and a front asynchronous motor getting traction to the front wheels when needed. Together they make a total of 302 horsepower. The suspension is a front strut, rear multi-link layout with adaptive damping. 

Both concept versions of the Q4 will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 6.3 seconds and have a top speed of 112 mph. Expect similar performance in production form as Audi says the concept offers a clear look ahead at the top-of-the-range engine line-up of the coming series production model.”

The 82-kwh battery pack can be fast-charged at 125 kw to 80% in just over 40 minutes. It weighs 1,124 pounds, and gives the utility vehicle a center of gravity that’s comparable to an internal-combustion sedan. Audi also claims the weight distribution is close to 50/50. 

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Range clocks in at 280 miles according to the European WLTP standard. If we use the E-Tron SUV’s original ratings as our guide, that might suggest an EPA rating of about 220 miles. Audi says the Sportback’s coefficient of drag is 0.26, versus 0.28 for the SUV, so the new variant might squeak by with a few more miles. 

Audi notes that the Sportback concept incorporates a heat-pump system, which should help maintain driving range in cold weather, and it has “a sophisticated recuperation strategy, leaving out no possibility for optimizing its range.”

The Q4 Sportback E-Tron will be the brand’s seventh electric model. Audi also says that by 2025, when electrified (hybrid and fully electric) models combined will make up 40% of its sales, it will offer more than 20 all-electric models globally.

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