Test Drive: The New Audi Q4 e-tron
Ian Lamming goes back to the future in Audi’s latest e-tron
WHEN I was a lad I was a tele addict yet, strangely, there wasn’t that much to watch compared to the youth of today’s 24/7 digital world.
There were only three channels and none of them devoted much time to kids’ programmes. Keeping us short kept us keen so when our favourites aired it was like we were inside the tele-box itself living the experience, especially when it turned from black and white to colour.
I was hooked and my main dealer came in the form of‘Supermarionation’ created by visionaries Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. If you are young, you are going to have to Google it; if you are old, you may also have to Google it as your memory fades.
But I remember it with such awe and affection – Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Joe 90 – sci-fi puppetry with brilliant models, backdrops and effects so good it was easy to ignore the strings. CGI? Pah, who needs it? It was enough to shape a malleable young mind forever.
Indestructible Captain Scarlet would fight the body-snatching aliens the Mysterons chasing them hither and thither in his SPC, that’s Spectrum Patrol Car to the uninitiated. It was red, it was fast, it was powered by a powerpack and I wanted one so badly, but had to make do with the Dinky toy version, and that was still great.
More than five decades later I’m living the Anderson dream in the nearest thing yet to the SPC, courtesy of Audi, the brand new Q4 e-tron; e-tron, that even sounds like a Captain Scarlet word.
And guess what? It is powered by a powerpack because it is full electric and the steering wheel isn’t even round, it has a flat top and bottom and looks like something Spectrum operatives would use. Supermarionation indeed, especially with the gloriously hi-tech virtual cockpit and dashboard – wonderful.
Back then electric power was the future not internal combustion engine and it has taken 50 plus years to become a reality. Not sure what happened in the interim but now the penny has dropped it’s hard to see us going back.
The starkest contrast comes one day when I drive the Q4 to Yorkshire to test another member of Audi’s parent family, a Lamborghini Huracan, a snarling beast of a sports car powered by a petrol-guzzling V10. The journey there is swift yet serene, comfortable and without fatigue, while the journey back is even better. The Lambo experience in the middle is fun, yes, but frenetic and taxing. It feels like driving something from an earlier epoch. Yes, of course, you’d have one, but not as your only car, obviously.
The Q4 you would happily live with every day because it is all the car you need. Typically Audi, it is smart and modern with a fabulous interior.
In the time it takes to play with a Lamborghini, the complimentary Porsche-branded rapid charger at the posh hotel (Grantley Hall, if you are interested, very nice) has topped up the range to a very impressive 345 miles and the long twisty drive home through the Dales to the Lakes trims off about 100. So no range anxiety for me and that feels wonderful.
Also, after the aural assault to the senses that is a V10, the syrupy smooth torque of an electric is a blessed relief. I’m really into sparky motors, they are just so, smooth, so quick, so green – I’m a true convert.
They are also half the price to power than petrols which has genuine appeal for this Yorkshire-blooded hack. Up to now it has only been the limited range that has put me off buying BEV (battery electric vehicle) and manufacturers are certainly addressing that. The following week I’m back in a diesel? What is that all about? It’s like driving a tractor.
The other thing I really appreciate in the Q4 is the service interval – 19,000 miles and/or every two years – that’s what you get when a machine has fewer moving parts and that makes it cheaper to run too.
I love the Q4 e-tron which is a car of the moment that harks back to a time of moon travel, science fiction becoming fact and boundless optimism. How pleased am I to see e-trons appear in my latest onscreen obsession, Marvel movies. They are the chosen chariot of Ironman Tony Stark for goodness sake. That’s me doubly sold then.
Audi Q4 e-tron 40
Top speed: 99.4mph (limited)
Electrical range: 308 miles
Transmission: one-speed auto, rear wheel drive
CO2 g/km: 0
Price: £51,165.00 (including extras)