Audi unveils Q4 Sportback e-tron concept
At this point, most top manufacturers have at least one flagship electric car in their range — Mercedes-Benz has the EQC, Audi itself has the e-tron and Porsche has the Taycan. All of these are expensive, but they are meant to showcase what is possible when it comes to mass market electric technology. Now though, we are seeing a shift toward the more affordable end of the market — Audi showcased its intent for the same with the Q4 e-tron concept almost a year ago, and now it has added the Q4 Sportback e-tron concept to the roster. Both these cars do still carry the concept name, but make no mistake, in just a year's time the Q4 Sportback e-tron will be hitting roads internationally, and we have our first look at what it will look like, both inside and out.
The Q4 Sportback e-tron concept gets the ever-popular coupe-SUV styling, with other details staying largely similar to the standard Q4 e-tron. The front-end is butch, dominated by a large ‘Singleframe’ grille, however since it is electric, it isn’t actually a grille. The headlights are slim and flow into the grille, like we’ve seen on the Q8. There is a silver accent on the lower half which makes this look less like a futuristic electric vehicle, and more like a regular car, a philosophy also followed with the original e-tron. Down the side, the fenders are accentuated by the strong shoulder line on all four corners, harking back to the Audi Quattro. The swooping roofline flows neatly into an integrated spoiler at the rear, which reduces drag. At the rear sit a pair of LED taillight units which are joined by a light bar. There’s a lot going on on the bottom half, with a glowing e-tron logo, a mix of silver accents and a neat diffuser. The Q4 Sportback e-tron concept rides on 22-inch rims, with a flower petal like design on them. Strip away some of the fancy lighting and the large wheels and this “concept” is very close to how the production model will look.
In terms of dimensions, the Q4 Sportback e-tron concept is very similar to the Q4 e-tron concept showcased earlier. Both measure in at around 4600mm in length, with a height of 1600mm, although the Sportback is 10mm longer and a tad bit shorter, owing to its coupe-like roofline. Both, the standard Q4 e-tron and the Sportback, are equally wide at 1900mm, share a wheelbase of 2770mm, and they’re underpinned by Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform for electric vehicles.
On the inside too, the Q4 Sportback e-tron is not far from production. Leather has been replaced by microfibre, to drive home the sustainability angle of the car. The cabin is fairly simple, dominated by a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, but not much else. There are sharp surfaces, and neat metal touches but it isn’t cluttered with buttons. However, Audi has been listening to its customers and has given the Q4 a dedicated panel for the air conditioning controls. Granted, they look like capacitive buttons as opposed to proper physical ones, but it's better than rummaging through menus to change the temperature.
The lack of a transmission tunnel has led to the engineers utilising that space for clever storage and further decluttering the cabin. Again, expect the production car to look much the same.
Under the errr... frunk?
Powering the Q4 Sportback e-tron and the Q4 e-tron will be two electric motors, one for the front-axle and one for the rear. Under normal driving, only the rear motor will be used. This is done because the rear motor is a permanently excited synchronous motor, allowing for higher efficiency while the front motor is asynchronous. When more power is needed or when a slip is predicted, the front motor automatically kicks in to do the needful. And yes, the system doesn’t just detect a slip, but can predict one before it happens to imperceptibly provide more traction whenever required. The rear motor produces 201bhp and 310Nm of torque while the motor in the front produces upto 100bhp and 150Nm of torque. The total system output is 301bhp. There is an 82kWh battery in the floor, allowing for a WLTP-tested range exceeding 450 kilometers. The charging rate is 125 kilowatts( this should be kWh I think. Just check), allowing it to be charged to 80 per cent in just over 30 minutes when plugged into a fast charger. Both models will be able to sprint to 100kmph in 6.3 seconds, and onto a limited top speed of 180kmph. This is the top-spec powertrain that will be offered on the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron, expect there to be less powerful, and therefore, more affordable options in the future too.
Audi has said that the Q4 Sportback e-tron will go into production in 2021, and hit the roads around this time next year. It will go up against the likes of the upcoming BMW iX3 and a more affordable Mercedes-Benz EQ SUV when that comes out. This is only the start for Audi’s electric range however, with a total of 20 all-electric models slated to be part of their lineup by 2025, including estates, hatchbacks and even luxury models. Audi is going all in with their e-tron range of electric cars, and judging by the popularity of electric vehicles internationally, it is only a matter of time before we see the revolution come to India too.