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Q4 e-tron Sportback joins Audi's zero-emission range

Q4 e-tron Sportback joins Audi's zero-emission range

Audi this week unveiled the Q4 Sportback e-tron concept, a more swoopy version of the Q4 e-tron concept electric car that made its debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

That will give Audi fans the choice of a regular SUV or a coupé variant when the Ingolstadt-based German automaker brings its high-performance electric duo to international showrooms next year.

The Sportback still has four doors, but it’s been a long time since a coupé referred only to a car with two passenger portals. What it does have is a curvier roofline that slopes down at the rear to give the car a more sporting edge.

Their dimensions are almost identical except that with a length of 4.60m and height of 1.60m the Sportback is 1cm longer and flatter.

Pumped-out fenders that recall the original quattros from the 1980s follow the modern Audi styling trend as do the supersized octagonal grilles — except these grilles have no air vents, which is the obvious styling giveaway to identify them from their fuel-burning siblings.

The two Q4 e-trons share the same drive technology, comprising a pair of electric motors that put out a combined 225kW and put the power down via quattro all-wheel drive. Both versions silently zip from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds and on to a governed 180km/h top speed.

There’s an electric motor at each axle, with the 150kW/310Nm aft-mounted one doing most of the work to provide rear-biased handling. When extra traction is required, the other motor supplies up to 75kW/150Nm to the front wheels.

Audi has focused on giving these large EVs decent driving dynamics. Though they are heavy vehicles with the batteries alone weighing 510kg, having the batteries stored in the floor provides a low centre of gravity to combat top-heaviness. The front-rear weight distribution is balanced at almost 50:50, and adaptive dampers set the suspension to firmer cornering or softer cruising as driving conditions demand.

Audi quotes a 450km driving range for the cars, with the ability to charge up to 80% of total capacity in just over half an hour.

The digitised cabin is designed with clean minimalism as per Audi’s modern trend, including a digital instrument panel and a large head-up display with an augmented reality function. There are almost no physical buttons in the uncluttered cockpit, and even the control panels on the steering wheel are touch-operated.

Apart from being pollution-free and having lag-free acceleration, electric vehicles have space advantages too given there’s no gearbox or driveshaft taking up space. With no transmission tunnel the Q4 e-tron has plenty of legroom, and with the centre console lacking a gear lever or hand brake, it’s designed as a spacious stowage compartment that includes a cellphone charging cradle.

The Audi Q4 e-tron is now under consideration for SA but the timing, and which models will be offered, is still to be confirmed.

By 2025, Audi plans to offer more than 20 all-electric models across its range, from the compact to the luxury class.