Visibly Audi, visibly e-tron: the exterior
The Q4 e-tron concept is identifiable as an Audi at first glance by the Singleframe with the brand logo, the four rings. And it will take no more than two glances to see that this is an electric Audi e-tron: Like the first production Audi with electric drive, the new concept vehicle also features a structured closed surface within a broad, almost upright octagonal frame in place of a traditional radiator grille. Air is supplied via large inlets that extend from below the two matrix LED headlights all the way down to the front apron.
The prominently modelled fenders of all four wheels are a further classic Audi design feature that distinguishes the brand. The widened features of the Q4 e-tron concept are designed to be highly organic and flowing, and they add a characteristic touch to the side view. The accentuation of the rocker panel area between the axles, where the battery and thus the powerhouse of this SUV is located, is a typical feature of the e-tron. Large 22 inch wheels leave no doubt about the potential of the Audi e-tron concept. Its roof line slants down slightly toward the back, giving the silhouette a particularly dynamic look.
The striking broad light band that connects the two lamp units on the rear end of the Audi Q4 e-tron concept was incorporated to reflect an element of the Audi e-tron. The relation within the e-tron family becomes visible even here. This also applies to the inside of the lights, where the significant sweep of the LED segments is also reminiscent of an element of the older brother.
Finally, the body paint in “Solar Sky,” a shade of blue that changes depending on the angle of the light, is a sustainable innovation in two senses: The paint, which was developed specifically for the Audi Q4 e-tron concept and produced under environmentally friendly conditions, effectively reflects a short-wave fraction of sunlight, near the infrared spectrum. This reduces the build-up of heat on the surface of the body and the interior significantly. This benefits the subjective well-being of the occupants while at the same time reducing the energy input required for the air conditioning, which is then not needed as much to cool the vehicle interior on warm days. This, in turn, improves the range and the global carbon footprint of the Q4 e-tron concept.
Compact on the outside, spacious on the inside: dimensions and interior
4.59 meters long, 1.90 meters wide, 1.61 meters tall: With its dimensions, the Audi Q4 e-tron concept takes its position in the upper third of the compact class. Its road space requirements thus qualify the electric SUV as an agile all-rounder that is suitable for city driving as well. In terms of the interior, by contrast, its wheelbase of 2.77 meters puts it at least one class higher. As there is no transmission tunnel restricting the space, the Q4 e-tron concept offers unsuspected spaciousness and comfort, especially in terms of legroom both at the front and in the rear.
The sense of spaciousness is underlined by the color scheme. While light, warm colors dominate the upper section of the cabin, the dark carpet in the floor section provides a contrast. The headlining, the window pillars and the upper section of the door rail and dash panel are fitted with white and beige microfiber textiles. In the Audi e-tron concept, sustainability is the top priority not only in terms of the electric drive: The floor covering is made of recycled materials. Instead of chrome-plated metal decor frames, the surfaces are covered with a high-quality multi-layer paint finish. The painted frosted Plexiglas on the applications creates an intensive depth effect. Four seats with integrated head restraints are upholstered with comfortable Alcantara material manufactured with exquisite workmanship. Double seams stitched with thick yarn adorn the upholstery.
The display of the virtual cockpit with the most important display elements for speed, charge level and navigation is located behind the steering wheel. The large-format head-up display with an augmented reality function is a new feature. It can display important graphical information, such as directional arrows for turning, directly on the course of the road.
Control panels designed as touch elements on the steering wheel spokes can be used to select frequently used functions. In the middle above the center console, there is a 12.3 inch touchscreen via which the infotainment and vehicle functions are displayed and operated.
Efficient performer: drive system and suspension
The modular electrification platform (MEB) offers a broad range of drive variants and power levels. The performance version of the electric drive is installed in the Audi Q4 e-tron concept. The front and rear axles are each powered by an electric motor – the Q4 is a quattro. There is no mechanical connection between the axles. Instead, an electronic control ensures that the torque distribution is coordinated optimally, and it does so in fractions of a second. That enables the electric SUV to achieve optimum traction in all weather conditions and on any type of surface.
In most cases, the Audi Q4 e-tron concept mainly uses its rear electric motor, a permanently excited synchronous motor, in order to achieve the highest efficiency. For reasons of efficiency, the drive torque is generally distributed with a rear-axle bias. If the driver demands more power than the rear electric motor can supply, the electric all-wheel drive uses the front asynchronous motor to redistribute the torque as required to the front axle. This also happens predictively even before slip occurs in icy conditions or when cornering fast, or if the car understeers or oversteers.
The electric motor in the rear end has an output of 150 kW and mobilises a torque of 310 newton meters; the front engine supplies the front wheels with up to 75 kW and 150 newton meters. The system power is 225 kW. The battery in the vehicle floor stores 82 kilowatt hours, which allows for a range of more than 450 kilometres according to the WLTP standard. The battery is charged with a maximum of 125 kilowatts. As a result, it takes hardly more than 30 minutes to return to 80 percent of the total capacity.
However, the recipe for this excellent range involves far more than just a battery with a large capacity. Like the first member of the family, the Audi e-tron, the Audi Q4 e-tron concept is also a versatile artist when it comes to efficiency. From the low aerodynamic drag of the body, whose Cd value is 0.28, to the sophisticated recuperation strategy, the compact SUV uses every opportunity to optimise its range. The complex thermal management of the drive and battery, which involves a CO2 heat pump, also contributes to this.
Sporty, precise handling
A key factor for the sporty character and outstanding transverse dynamics is the low and central position at which the drive components are installed. The high-voltage battery system is optimally matched to the dimensions of the Audi Q4 e-tron and is located between the axles in the form of a flat, broad block beneath the passenger compartment. The battery system weighs 510 kilograms. The centre of gravity of the Audi Q4 e-tron concept is therefore at a similar level to that of a sedan with a conventional drive system. Axle load distribution is perfectly balanced at almost 50:50. The front wheels of the Q4 e-tron concept are guided on a MacPherson axle with adaptive dampers. In the rear, there is a multi-link axle with separate springs and adaptive dampers.