The VW Groups is about to have an interesting familial competition, once both the Audi Q4 e-tron and Volkswagen ID.4 hit dealerships. Both cars are built on the same chassis, both are fully electric, they both have similar ranges, and both are similarly priced but they’re also both very difference cars. So which one should customers buy?
This isn’t your typical VW Group badge engineering at play. In the past, many Audis looked and felt like posh-badged VWs. I’ll admit that my own B6 Audi A4 is remarkably similar to the Volkswagen Passat of its time. However, the new Audi Q4 e-tron looks absolutely nothing like the VW ID.4, its interior is entirely different, and it also comes equipped differently.
So of the two MEB-based electric crossovers from the VW Group, which is the better buy?
Price, Power, and Range
Obviously, the Volkswagen ID.4 is a bit cheaper than the Audi; the VW starts at $39,995 before tax incentives in the ‘States, while the entry-level Audi Q4 40 e-tron starts at $45,000 before incentives.
Despite being more expensive, the Q4 e-tron doesn’t come with any more power or range. Both cars use the same 77 kWh net (82 kWh gross) battery pack and both have claimed ranges of around 250 miles. Additionally, both cars come with a single, rear-mounted electric motor as-standard, making them rear-wheel drive. They also both use the same 201 horsepower electric motor, so neither has a power advantage.
Both cars will get dual-motor, all-wheel drive versions but Audi hasn’t released pricing on the bigger A4 50 e-tron just yet.
Advantage — Volkswagen
Styling and Interior
Let’s face it, the biggest driver of sales in the premium crossover segment is design. Customers that buy these sorts of pseudo-luxury crossovers buy them so they can look more posh than their neighbors.
While the Volkswagen ID.4 isn’t a bad looking car, it’s a bit of a jelly bean and lacks any sort of real emotion. It looks fine but it’s a bit boring. The Audi Q4 e-tron, on the other hand, is one of the best looking crossovers on sale, full stop. The Q4 is sharp, muscular, and premium looking. Obviously, as a small crossover, it’s not exactly thrilling to look at but it’s about as good looking as such a car can be.
Same goes for the interior. The Volkswagen ID.4’s cabin is fine. That’s about it. It has a sort of BMW i3 look, with its funky column-mounted drive selector and minimalized digital instrument panel, especially in its commonly spec’d white color scheme. The Audi Q4 e-tron looks fairly similar to most other Audi cabins but that’s mostly a good thing, as it’s not only a good looking one but it’s also a familiar one for current Audi customers.
Audi definitely has an ergonomic advantage, though. Its touchscreen MMI system is easier to reach than the ID.4’s, the climate controls are physical buttons instead of a sub-menu in the ID.4’s infotainment, and its drive selector is a bit easier to use. I’ve had a quick go in an ID.4 and my biggest takeaway wasn’t its electric drivetrain or how it handled but instead how annoying its ergonomics and infotainment system were.
Advantage — Audi
Technology and Infotainment
The second biggest reason why customers buy cars in this segment is tech. Customers love their in-cabin technology, especially millennial customers, who are both the Q4 e-tron’s and ID.4’s main targets. Which means their technologies are going to be a bigger deciding factor than ride, handling, or performance.
In that regard, the Audi Q4 e-tron crushes the Volkswagen ID.4. Along with feeling that the VW’s interior ergonomics were a bit annoying, its infotainment system is infuriating. It’s confusing, unnecessarily complicated, and requires digging through sub-menus to get to the simplest of tasks, such as adjusting the climate controls.
Audi’s MMI system is far more intuitive, easier to use, quicker to respond, and even easier to reach comfortably. It’s a more sensibly laid out system that flat-out works better. Another straw in Audi’s cap is the fact that the Q4 e-tron uses physical climate controls, meaning there are actual buttons (buttons!) to control the climate. If you want the fan speed higher, you don’t have to click the climate icon on the touchscreen and then adjust the fan speed, you simply reach over and click the button. Same goes for temperature controls and heated seats. It’s far simpler in the Audi and, while it might not be as snazzy looking, is so much better to use.
Additionally, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is better than Volkswagen’s digital gauges. It has more functionality, customization, and better visual range indicators, showing you how far you can drive on the map itself.
Advantage — Audi
If you just check their specs on paper, it seems that the Volkswagen ID.4 is the better value. It’s about $5,000 cheaper, comes with the same powertrain, same battery, and same range. It’s built on the same chassis and even seems to have more interior space. However, in reality, the Audi Q4 e-tron is likely going to be well worth the additional money. Not only does it look so much better, its interior is significantly nicer, and its technology is miles ahead. The Q4 e-tron will be the nicer car to live with on a regular basis.
Admittedly, I haven’t driven the Audi Q4 e-tron yet, only the Volkswagen ID.4 (I briefly test drove one at a VW dealer while waiting for service) and I came away disappointed with the VeeDub. I was expecting more from it but it felt sluggish, lazy, uninspired, and surprisingly dull. I mostly love VW’s current crop of cars, especially MQB-based cars such as the VW Golf and Tiguan (the latter of which I currently own), but the ID.4 left me feeling cold and disappointed.
From what I’ve heard about the Audi Q4 e-tron, it seems to be a great little crossover to drive. Of course, it’s no sports car but, for a little crossover, it’s said to actually be quite fun.
All things considered, it seems that the Audi Q4 e-tron is worth the few extra thousand dollars. It’s the more premium, better looking EV with a better interior, better technology, and a supposedly better drive. We’ll revisit this comparison when we can actually drive the Q4 e-tron but, for now, it’s the winner.