A lot of electric vehicle concepts and announcements turn out to be vaporware. By contrast, Audi’s electrification strategy is taking actual shape. At the Geneva auto show, Audi is launching the Q4 e-tron concept, a design study that is a thinly veiled variation of the actual production car that is slated for a late 2020 global launch.
Unlike the current e-tron, which is loosely based on the modular longitudinal MLB Evo architecture, the Q4 e-tron is based on the Volkswagen Group’s fully electric MEB platform. That means it can take full advantage of the packaging possibilities offered by full electrification, and it can harness the economies of scale associated with spreading out MEB models over several of the VW Group’s brands.
There are two motors, a synchronous electric motor in the rear and an asynchronous motor up front; they are not connected. A rear-biased torque distribution, the 50/50 front/rear weight balance and an ultraquick torque management system help to make the Q4 e-tron extraordinarily agile and sporty. It stands on 22-inch wheels and 265/40 Pirelli P Zero rubber. There is a MacPherson front and multilink rear suspension, both with adaptive dampers.
At 180.7 inches long, 74.8 inches wide, and 63.4 inches tall, the Q4 e-tron fits right into the compact-crossover SUV segment. The 109.1-inch wheelbase allows for a generous interior that belies the compact exterior dimensions. We expect it to offer as much room as a Q5 inside. The drag coefficient of 0.28 is impressive for a crossover SUV.
Stylistically, the Q4 e-tron concept carries Audi’s e-tron design language a step forward: The grille features horizontal slats, the rear is dominated by a new interpretation of a horizontal light bar, and the flanks are dominated by muscular fenders that evoke the traditional Quattro blisters. There are no electronic, camera-based rearview mirrors, and that’s probably a good thing; we were not convinced by the feature on the production e-tron we recently drove.
The cockpit is futuristic, with a fully electronic cluster, an updated gear selector that mirrors that on the e-tron GT concept, and four Alcantara seats.
The production car could be at U.S. dealers in early 2021, where it will meet a growing number of competitors—including the recently announced Tesla Model Y.