2023 Audi Q4 50 e-tron Quattro – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
If Steven King is looking to update Christine, he need look no further than Audi's Q4 e-tron. This is a car with a mind of its own. During our week-long acquaintance, the Q4's impetuous AI system micromanaged our tenancy in nefarious ways. Despite the presence of an "On/Off" ignition button on the dash, we could never tell whether the Q4 was actually On or Off, or lingering in some undefined state between these poles. Like the VW ID 4 upon which it is based, the e-tron had the unnerving habit of unlocking itself as I approached, opening its door automatically, while turning the radio on. All these actions were unbidden by the key fob holder (me). At one point, I was seated in the driver's seat after returning home from a shopping trip. When I reached behind the passenger seat to collect some items, the radio turned itself on. But when I straightened up and faced the windshield, the radio turned itself off. It did this two more times in succession as I gathered the rest of my stuff. The key fob remote only sporadically locked the Q4 from a distance. Sometimes one push did the job, but most times it refused the command, or operated only after two pushes.
For the most part, Audi designers have declared war on the simple knob, replacing 20th century tactile controls with 21st century smart phone commands so obtuse they distract your attention from driving. Thankfully, the Q4's instrument panel still contains a row of physical flip switches for temperature, fan and AC settings. Everything else is subsumed in a central MMI touch panel 11.6 inches long. While entertainment system setting and volume can be controlled by the driver from the steering wheel, a tiny circular disc on the center console inadequately adjusts these common functions instead of a proper knob. But then, Audi seems more concerned with appearance than function in cockpit design. A clean sweep of black plastic is their preferred look these days. The symmetry of that look, however, was vitiated by an incongruous slab of "Silver/Gray lime sediment natural wood inlay." Back in the 1960's, we had plastic imitating wood interior trim. Now we have wood made to look like plastic.
Other than its laundry list of quirks, the Q4 is a serviceable electric SUV, with plenty of acceleration, decent handling, and a big enough storage area to take a full-size mountain bike without a struggle. The quattro stands foursquare on a set of Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S (235/50R20) all-season rubber. These tires are part of an $800 "20-inch wheel package" that provides "5-Y-spoke design wheels" finished in an eye-popping "graphite gray finish." Thusly equipped, the Q4 50 is good for a surprisingly quick trip up sinuous Route 1 without so much as a squeal of protest. In fact, the Bridgestone fortified quattro system offers so much lateral grip through the twisties that the Q4 is capable of staying with ostensibly faster traffic without even breathing hard.
The only hint the driver gets that he's commanding a near 5,000-pound SUV and not a sports car is the head toss the tall (64 inch high) Q4 issues as it bobs and weaves like a heavyweight prize fighter. Brakes, however, are not up to the performance level of the suspension, with a spongy pedal yielding unpredictable engagement points. On the freeway, the e-tron is the ideal silent skimmer, with no wind noise, no motor intrusion, and no tire whine to sully an interior quieter than Thoreau's cabin in Concord.
Audi offers two versions of the Q4 e-tron. The base model is designated Q4 40, which offers a single 201hp motor powering only the rear wheels. The 295hp Q4 50 we tested uses front and rear electric motors
powering all four wheels (hence "quattro"). The Q4 40 provides a 77kWh battery pack, while the Q4 50 includes an 82kWh pack. The Q4 40 offers a range of 265 miles, while the Q4 50's range drops to
236 miles. When delivered to us, the Q4 50 showed a range of 220 miles, and that number fluctuated wildly depending upon whether we were hard into the throttle or driving like gramps. When called upon for When called upon
for sudden punch, the Q4 50 will turn the 0-60mph trick in 5.6 seconds, run the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 98mph, and drain your battery in a matter of minutes. Top speed is governor limited to 113mph.
Level 2 home charging takes 9 hours to complete.
2023 AUDI Q4 50 e-tron quattro
MOTOR: 2 (F/R) Induction Asynchronous Front/ Permanent Magnet Synchronous Rear
FUEL ECONOMY: 100MPGe City/89 MPGe Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $63,710
HYPES: Green With Envy
GRIPES: Spirit of Christine
STAR RATING: 6.5 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman