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Review: Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron is shockingly normal

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A lot of European SUVs come in two versions these days.

There’s the practical, boxy one and the pricier model with the swoopy rear end that’s supposed to make it look sportier.

It’s an established trend that’s already migrating to electric SUVs. The Audi e-tron comes in both styles as does the smaller Q4 e-tron.

The Q4 Sportback e-tron goes beyond the look and is only offered with a 295 hp all-wheel drivetrain, while the Q4 e-tron can also be had in a 201 hp rear-wheel-drive model.

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It’s a $3,000 jump from the AWD Q4 e-tron to the Sportback, which has starting prices ranging from $59,395 to $67,095 for the top-of-the-line Prestige trim tested here. That lines it up with competitors like the similarly-sized Genesis GV60 and Tesla Model Y.

The Sportback has an EPA rated range of 242 miles of driving, which is close to the GV60’s 248 miles, but far short of the Model Y’s 330-mile rating. It takes about 36 minutes to recharge at the fastest public charging station, while the GV60 can do it in half that time.

The Sportback’s interior looks and feels very much like an Audi. The designers didn’t go out of their way to try to make it seem futuristic at the expense of function.

There is a full digital instrument cluster, which Audi was one of the first to offer in its internal combustion engine models, but the 11.6-inch central touchscreen seems small compared to some of the jumbo-trons showing up in many EVs these days.

It’s subtly integrated into the dashboard and has a row of buttons and knobs below it for the climate controls. The oddest interface is a round touchpad on the center console that might remind you of an old iPod. You rub your finger in a circle to adjust the volume, and click the cardinal points to change tracks, mute and power it on and off.

The Sportback’s relatively long wheelbase makes for a spacious interior, with more rear legroom than you get in the larger, conventionally powered Q5 and plenty of headroom to go with it. The upholstery and trim are all up to Audi’s typical snuff.

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That’s also true of the ride quality, which is a perfect blend of comfort and handling, despite the lack of any electronic suspension controls. It’s just as happy on old rutted pavement as a perfectly smooth highway and exceptionally quiet. Audi resisted the urge to pump a lot of fake motor noise into the cabin and the pedestrian alert it projects at low speeds isn’t intrusive.

The Prestige comes equipped with an extensive suite of electronic driver aids that includes a lane-centering adaptive cruise control. It doesn’t have a 360-degree camera, but its head-up display features augmented reality that can highlight cars in front of you and trace the lane markers with red lines if you’re getting too close to them.

Despite the shape of the roof, the Sportback’s measured load area is actually larger than the standard model’s, and while some tall items won’t fit as well, the overall difference is minimal. There’s covered storage under the floor, which can be dropped down to expand the space. 

Unfortunately, the Sportback is made in Germany. That’s usually a selling point for an Audi, but in this case it means it doesn’t qualify for the new federal electric car purchase incentives. It’s possible they could get wrapped into the lease price, however.

Either way, I expect a lot of Q3 and Q5 owners coming off their leases will be driving home in one of these. Aside from the adjustment to electric car ownership, the transition to a Q4 Sportback e-tron won’t be much of a shock for them at all.

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2023 Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron

Base price: $59,395

As tested: $67,095

Type: 4-door, 5-passenger, all-wheel-drive SUV

Motor: dual electric

Power: 295 hp

Transmission: single-speed

Range: 242 miles per charge

MPGe: 95 combined

Note: The car tested was a 2022 model, but pricing and specifications are for the mechanically identical 2023 vehicle

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