Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback – long term review – Report No:2 2022

Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback - long term review - Report No:2 2022

VW ID.4 vs Audi Q4 e-tron: same cars, different outcome?

Jack Rix: Mr. Horrell, we meet again… outside the exact same coffee shop we did 18 months ago comparing Honda e and BMW i3. We really need to get new locations.

Paul Horrell: Well, the coffee is good here. And at least we have some new cars to discuss. The i3 and e were both designed as short-range compact cars, but they achieved that goal through very different technical and design solutions. Not so this time. Here we have two electric family crossovers that are: precisely technically the same. They are even made in the same factory in Zwickau, Germany. But I’d rather have the better deal. The differences are appearance, price, maybe even image.

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JR: It’s true, when they’re parked side by side and you fully appreciate the identical proportions and shared technology, it’s hard to spend more on the Audi… but Audi is the master at doing just enough to to raise its prices. And it doesn’t even come close to the looks for me, there’s an amorphous blobbiness to the rear of the ID.4 that’s slightly offensive, while the Q4’s creases and stubby nose aren’t adventurous but certainly understated and premium – bang in the short term.

pH: All those creases and chrome? Hardly ‘understated’. But yes, the Q4 looks like it fits neatly between the Q3 and Q5. That’s why I hate it. For most owners, a premium SUV does only one kind of mountaineering: the social kind. I don’t want to be associated with that. I want something that looks as little as possible like a normal German crossover, and more like it’s electric. That said, I have to admit your point about the amorphous blobbiness of the ID.4. The principle of the design suits me, but the execution does not. Now opening the door to their interior…

JR: This is where the Audi certainly pulls a few car lengths ahead. I love the way this interior looks – from the chunky bits of metal on the steering wheel to the tightly integrated screen and padded seats. All very smart, all very Audi. However, Audi is also very good at putting the expensive parts where you see and touch them, and save money elsewhere. So there are cheaper plastics lower and manually adjustable seats (on a £62k car! The horror). The infotainment works great except for the touch sensitive thumb pads on the steering wheel, they are crappy although I have to be honest and point out that I only use the wireless Apple CarPlay 98 percent of the time, risking the built-in navigation only when I’m in the deepest Normandy with no phone signal, and the radio when I feel like a special trial match instead of a podcast.

pH: I like the cab trim and decorative simplicity of the ID.4. And when I stopped outside the cafe, you couldn’t help but say you liked the color scheme. (Unfortunately, that was a launch pack and dropped out of the configurator.) Ah, but Jack, I love the Q4’s interface and screens so much. The ID.4 has VW’s usual awfully laggy touchscreen and an info-deficient driver display. I see you’ve set the Q4’s binnacle to display 13 different numerical values, which might be a bit much. But the four of the ID.4 – speed, set cruise speed, range estimate and ETA for navigation – are too few. And don’t get me started on the idiocy of giving the driver only two switches for the four power windows. grrrr. I need to calm myself… by taking a little ride in the traffic chaos in South London.

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JR: Breathe Paul, just breathe through it. In fact, throw me your keys, here’s mine. Ah yes, I remember this interface from my drive to Scotland and back in the ID.3, less said the better. The way it drives is fascinating – generally there’s a mouse fart between this one and ‘my’ Audi – but it does feel a little softer, softer and softer (it’s a word when I say it’s a word) . I have to say I prefer the slightly sharper steering and firmer ride in the Audi as it’s not quite as firm at all. How do you enjoy that premium experience PH?

pH: As you say, there is so little to distinguish these two cars. Strange to think that this is the only Audi, except for an R8 RWD that is only driven by the rear wheels. Not that you would notice. Like the VW, the Q4 is a household appliance rather than a driver’s car. Dynamic engagement has been completely sucked out of the couple. But they are relaxing in the city. Spacious and efficient too so they served us both well for long trips with lots of people and chatter. Now the money. The VW feels cheaper inside, and it’s cheaper whether you buy by sticker price or financially. Is the Audi worth the extra? It thinks it is better; I don’t think it is. Still, editor Jack is in charge, so I’ll let him have the last word.

JR: Bizarre isn’t it, how you find yourself defending your own long-term fighters over rivals, like taking the keys for six months you’ve sworn to uphold their honor…which we didn’t. But I’ll stick to my guns here, I’d take the Audi any day of the week. At least for a fairly joyless bunch of cars, it gives me illusions of grandeur. That’s what being an editor is all about, isn’t it?