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LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—When Dieselgate made headlines in 2014, it fundamentally changed how Volkswagen Group and its associated sub-brands, from Volkswagen to Lamborghini, had to think about cars. Diesel got a big black mark, and electric vehicles got a much-needed bump in the race for a more sustainable way to meet the ever-growing demand for personal transportation.
The scandal accelerated Volkswagen’s push to go completely electric by 2033 and encouraged investment in a US network of EV chargers (which still leave a lot to be desired), but the rollout of the EVs themselves has been slow, to say the least.
Audi, one of the VW Group’s luxury automakers, has been slowly rolling out a suite of new EVs that began with the e-tron SUV, the e-tron Sportback, and the e-tron GT sport tourer and most recently includes the Q4 e-tron in both typical crossover and Sportback form. The Q4 e-tron was announced in February of 2021 and was originally slated to make its stateside debut in mid- to late-2021.
Fast-forward through the current state of world affairs, and the entry-level crossover from Audi is only just beginning to arrive in the States. The delays were a direct result of everything from the ongoing war in Ukraine to pandemic-induced chip shortages. While it's strange to get a first drive of a 2022 model in July of 2022, the short time we spent with the compact crossover on the roads around Malibu, California, and again with a Sportback version around the sprawl of Los Angeles, proves that it has been worth the wait.
We spent three short hours tooling around the hills of Malibu and Topanga Canyon on a sunny afternoon in July with some of the very early builds of the 2022 Audi Q4 50 e-tron in the mid-level Premium Plus trim. All of the Q4 e-trons in the US will be called "Q4 50 e-trons," but there are three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The 2022 Audi Q4 50 e-tron gets an 82 kWh capacity battery pack (77 kWh usable—the same as the Volkswagen ID.4) and an EPA estimated battery range of up to 241 miles (388 km). Audi says that both the crossover and the Sportback version will do 0–60 mph in 5.8 seconds. An asynchronous motor at the front and a permanent synchronous motor at the rear offer standard all-wheel drive for the full lineup, with 295 hp (220 kW) and 339 lb-ft (460 Nm).
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