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Audi unveils slick Q4 Sportback e-tron as part of EV offensive

John Law

Audi unveiled the Q4 e-tron concept at the 2019 Geneva motor show as a wagon-bodied, mid-size EV SUV concept and, naturally, that car has now been joined by the slicker Sportback interpretation seen here.

This new Sportback model is set to become Ingolstadt’s seventh series production EV when it launches in late 2021 and forms part of the 20-strong EV lineup rolled-out by 2025.

When it does arrive in Australia, you might be surprised to find that the Q4 e-trons won’t share their underpinning with the recently launched e-tron SUV and Sportback.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept pair
The pair of Q4 e-trons.

Instead, Audi has built the more compact pair of crossovers on the Volkswagen Group MEB platform. It’s a modular platform that will sit under the coming Volkswagen ID.3, and we presume many more on the horizon.

The platform itself is modular, and the brand says it will be used “from the compact class to the superior mid-size class”, which gives an indication to the divers future of electrification within the Volkswagen group.

Powering the Q4 Sportback e-tron is the same pair of motors in its wagon-bodied brother. The rear electric motor takes most of the strain with outputs of 150kW/350Nm, while the front motor will kick in when needed with an extra 75kW and 150Nm for a combined 225kW and claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 6.3 seconds.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept side
The Sportback is 10mm longer and lower than its wagon-bodied sibling.

Most of the time Audi says Q4 Sportback e-tron will rely on its rear motor to conserve energy, though depending on the drive-mode and conditions the Q4 can shuffle power just as you would expect an Audi to.

Beneath the sleek exterior, Audi says there will be a skateboard-style battery pack with a total capacity of 82kWh. Fast charging up to 125kW means 80% charge can be reached in just 30 minutes, and range for the Quattro models is claimed at around 450km.

Audi says rear-drive only models – presumably pitched as a more affordable option in the future – will be able to return 500km from a full charge.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept pair FRONT
We like the incorporation of the corporate grille.

Those numbers are still somewhat adrift of a long-range Tesla Model 3 variant, though the 400-500km range figure is about on par with what other manufacturers like Hyundai are achieving consistently.

As for the looks which – let’s face it – a concept car is really all about, and Audi has done a great job. Compared to the wagon-bodied Q4 e-tron, the Sportback is 10mm longer and lower overall, adding to the car’s already squat appearance.

The way the designers have aggressively sloped the tailgate and bisected the rear glasshouse is pleasing in images and reminiscent of the achingly cool but before-its-time Audi A2. As for the nose, we think it’s a slick integration of the brand’s halo grille.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept Rear
Anybody else see the ill-fated Audi A2?

That car was designed for maximum efficiency, and it seems that Audi allowed the wind-tunnel to dictate design for the Sportback, which drops its CD to 0.026, or 0.01 lower than the wagon-bodied offering.

The virtual cockpit is here, configurable steering-wheel touchpads, and the 12.3-inch touchscreen with separate climate controls.

Inside the Q4 Sportback e-tron is just concept car enough in our eyes and we hope it reaches production in this guise. The brand’s Virtual Cockpit is present, as is a 12.3-inch touchscreen. The infotainment will be able to be controlled with configurable touchpads on the steering wheel, too – a nice touch.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron concept interior
The interior looks just game-changing enough.

As for remaining specification, we know it will be suspended by conventional steel springs (with adaptive dampers) and boast wireless charging. However, the price is still, understandably, up in the air.

With the e-tron and e-tron Sportback prices starting at $137,700, we expect the smaller Q4 e-trons to come in at a more affordable price, though exact details will be confirmed closer to the car’s arrival.