Is it worth the premium over an ID.4? Kind of.
While we were enamored by the BMW iX M60 and its 610-horsepower electric motors, its $108,900 price tag is too far out of reach for most buyers. The same goes for many luxury-branded electric vehicles; the Cadillac Lyriq is $62,990, Jaguar I-Pace is $71,300, and even the "affordable" Tesla Model Y is $65,990. What this segment needs is an entry-level model with a decent badge and reasonable performance. Perhaps the 2022 Audi Q4 e-tron can be that entry?
The specs look pretty decent on paper, since the Q4 shares a platform and powertrain with the more affordable Volkswagen ID.4. CarBuzz had an early chance to drive the Q4 thanks to Audi North Orlando, and from our brief experience with the car, we could see this being a hit for Audi. Unfortunately, some issues need to be addressed before we'd call it a smashing success.
Here's what we love and hate about Audi's most affordable EV in America.
Customers in the United States can only order the Q4 with a single powertrain for 2022, the dual-motor 50 e-tron quattro variant producing 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque (the same as the dual-motor ID.4). Performance in this version is brisk, hitting 60 mph in around 5.8 seconds, which we feel is completely acceptable. With an 82 kWh battery pack, the Q4 e-tron 50 is rated to go 241 miles on a charge by the EPA.
Audi will offer a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version called the Q4 e-tron 40, but it won't be available until the 2023 model year. Remember that, as it will become important later. The e-tron 40 delivers 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft (again, the same as the single-motor ID.4), yielding a 7.9-second 0-60 mph time. Official EPA range for this model is not available yet, but based on the ID.4, we estimate it will travel 10 miles more than the e-tron 50 quattro.
We can see the Q4 succeeding in the US because it doesn't look like an EV at first glance; it may as well be a gas-powered model slotting between the Q3 and Q5. It wears a silver "grille" up front that makes it look just like a conventional Audi model. In fact, we'd go so far to say that the Q4 perfectly hides its ID.4 roots, and few buyers will be able to tell that the two vehicles are related. The Glacier White Metallic is a bit vanilla, but there's a much more eye-catching Navarra Blue Metallic color available.
Since this is an Audi and not a Volkswagen, image-conscious buyers in the US will be more likely to consider the Q4 over the ID.4. Combine the more mature looks with Audi's superior dealership experience, and the Q4 seems like (on the surface) it could be a winning formula. And, if you don't like the regular model, it's available in Sportback form, too.
Like the e-tron GT, Audi hasn't strayed too far away from its typical interior formula with the Q4. You still get a 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen, a 10.25-inch Audi virtual cockpit, a conventional steering wheel, physical climate controls, and even a usable volume control (albeit a unique rotating touch affair, not a knob). So many modern EVs, especially the ID.4, forgo conventional controls in favor of touchscreens and haptic controls. By keeping the Q4 more like its other models, Audi won't alienate its customers who are considering their first EV.
In terms of space, the Q4 is (unsurprisingly) positioned between the Q3 and Q5. Interior volume is great for a vehicle of this size thanks to the electric architecture not requiring a big engine up front or transmission tunnel intruding in the back seat. It's certainly not a massive family hauler, but it doesn't feel as tiny as the Q3.
From our limited time behind the wheel, the Q4 feels like a proper Audi, not a gussied-up Volkswagen. Sure, it shares a platform and powertrain with the ID.4, but the Q4 feels noticeably quieter and more refined inside. Even with the larger 20-inch wheels, this small crossover makes short work of imperfect roads, not beating up the driver like some other compact German luxury vehicles.
The steering has a nice heft to it, more so than gas-powered models like the Q3 and Q5. And thanks to the instantly-available electric torque, it feels quicker in the real world. Though a Q5 with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is technically a tenth of a second quicker to 60 mph, the Q4 will run away from it in a sudden acceleration run since it doesn't have a transmission that needs to downshift. We wouldn't call the e-tron 50 a performance model, but the power is more than suitable for the average crossover driver.
Now we move on to what's not so great about the Q4, starting with its charging speed. Audi says the car will go from 5% to 80% in 38 minutes, which sounds OK on the surface. However, the car will only hit a peak charging speed of 125 kW, which was the same as the ID.4 before it received an over-the-air update to charge at 135 kW. For the 2023 model year, the ID.4 will bring its charge speed up to 175 kW.
Though the ID.4 is still not the fastest-charging EV out there, at least it's quicker than the more expensive Audi. If Audi wants customers to take the Q4 seriously, it needs to do something about those charge speeds as soon as possible. Who wants to pay more to get a car that charges slower? Also, remember that non-luxury EVs like the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 offer similar power and features with 250 kW charging speeds (10% to 80% in only 18 minutes).
With the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Audi Q4 e-tron no longer qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit since it is not assembled in North America. Perhaps Audi can shift production to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the ID.4 is built, but that won't happen overnight.
Currently, the cheapest Q4 e-tron 50 Premium starts at $53,300, around the same price as the Genesis GV60 ($58,890) and Volvo XC40 Recharge ($53,550), although both vehicles provide more power and the Genesis has greater range. This base price isn't terrible, as it's a hair cheaper than the most well-equipped ID.4 AWD Pro S Plus ($53,995) and has the prestige of an Audi badge.
It's also worth noting that Audi originally promised a starting price of $49,900 for the e-tron 50. With the Premium Plus Package and a few other options, the Q4 we tested carried a sticker price of $62,530, which is far less "affordable" and more in line with the luxury EVs mentioned in the opening.
Audi originally promised a $43,900 starting MSRP for the incoming RWD 40 model, which was only a few thousand dollars more than an ID.4. However, the car will now arrive with a $48,800 starting price, nearly $5,000 more than the original number.
For $49,000 to $64,000 (depending on powertrain and options), the Q4 e-tron seems like a fine, but not stellar entry to the luxury EV space. We were excited to see a vehicle enter this space with a luxury badge and a sub-$45,000 price tag, but thanks to supply chain issues and higher cost of production, it appears that will not be the reality. The Q4 boasts inoffensive styling, a classy interior, and enjoyable driving dynamics, but it's held back by slow charging, average range, and no tax credit.
With a few changes, the Q4 could have been a smash hit in the US, offering a luxury EV at a non-luxury price. But as of right now, it feels like an under-the-radar option that won't draw many buyers away from Tesla.