Audi's take on the electric family SUV is cool and classy
Audi has revealed full details and prcies of the new all-electric Q4 E-Tron. It's the company's first electric car based on the same technology as the Volkswagen ID.3 and Skoda Enyaq iV and as well as being available as a regular SUV, you can also specify a coupe-like Sportback version.
The Q4 E-Tron introduces some new technology and offers some choice in terms of price and range. Firstly, there will be three variants from launch, the 35, 40 and 50 Quattro. As you may have already guessed, the 50 Quattro features all-wheel drive as standard – the 35 and 40 versions are rear-wheel drive only.
Rivals? There are a few that include the Skoda Enyaq iV, Volkswagen ID.3, BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQA and EQC. The market for mid-sized electric SUVs is really starting to heat up.
What it's like inside?
Details new to the Q4 E-Tron include a steering wheel with a flat top and bottom (with haptic touch panel buttons) on S Line models and additional storage cubbies, including bottle holders in the door armrests. The central MMI touchscreen (10.1-inch as standard, 11.6-inch as an option) still has haptic feedback like most larger Audis, but there is only one touchscreen, with manually-controlled air-con switchgear below it.
Much like Volkswagen’s ID.3 and ID.4, along with the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Q4 will be available with an optional augmented-reality head-up display. The AR-HUD actively displays navigation directions in your field of view, gives you markers for the car in front when you have the adaptive cruise system active and even flags up the edges of your lane if you stray out of them.
Audi is particularly promoting the practicality aspect of the new Q4 E-Tron, saying that while it has the rough exterior dimensions of a Q3, it has space inside akin to the Q5 and quality like a Q7. The Q4 has a sliding rear bench, allowing for a boot volume of 520 litres in the non-Sportback variant.
What models and trims are available?
The Q4 E-Tron is available to order now and UK deliveries are expected in June 2021. Trims available at launch will be the Sport, S Line and Edition 1 forms. Every battery and powertrain combination is available with each equipment level.
Even though Sport is the entry level, it still comes equipped with LED headlamps, a 10.1-inch MMI infotainment screen and aerodynamic 19-inch alloy wheels. The S Line model will undoubtedly be the most popular – as is the case with all other Audi models – and gains 20-inch alloy wheels, sportier-looking front and rear bumpers and lowered suspension. The special Edition 1 trim will be a more elaborate offering, with Matrix LED headlights and unique interior and exterior trim.
Expected to join the range after the initial launch in June 2021 will be the Q4 E-Tron Vorsprung. Audi has confirmed It’s priced from £54,450 and gains 21-inch wheels, Nappa leather-trimmed seats and a more comprehensive driver-assistance package.
What else should I know?
The Q4 E-Tron can support 11kW AC charging and up to 125kW DC charging, with Audi claiming around 80 miles can be zapped into its new EV in just 10 minutes using those fastest of chargers.
Very little has changed between the production Q4 E-Tron and the concept car that debuted a couple of years ago. The Q4 SUV’s relatively boxy shape is emphasised by clean-cut wheelarches, a blocked-out grille in a very familiar Audi shape, and a single light panel that stretches across the rear. If you choose the optional matrix LED lights, you can customise the way the daytime running lights look with four distinct patterns.
Audi also offers something called ‘E-Tron Charging Service.’ It’s not an unheard of concept from manufacturers – you’re essentially given an RFID card and sign up to a tariff that gives you streamlined access to chargers from different networks, saving you the pain of signing up to individual ones.
Should I order one?
If you like the look of it. the Audi Q4 E-Tron is available to order now, with prices starting from £40,750. That figure soon balloons by choosing plusher models, larger batteries and optiona extras. The question is how much you think it's worth the premium over its Volkswagen Group sister cars, the ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq iV. We can't really answer that until we've driven it.
No model in the Q4 E-Tron range is eligible for the government's £2,500 plug-in car grant. We do like the sheer breadth of models available and the classy interior – and look forward to driving it. You'll be able to read about that here first.
The development of CO2-free propulsion technologies has become a top priority for the BMW Group. In addition to purely electric, they are now working on the development of hydrogen propulsion systems, which will first be implemented in the current BMW X5. The total power of the system will be almost 400 hp.
Like all electric cars, fuel cell models (FCEVs) use electricity to power electric motors. Unlike other electric models, FCEVs do not use energy from a battery but from a hydrogen fuel cell. In it, a chemical reaction takes place between hydrogen and oxygen, and thus a current is created that drives the engine. Thus, the use of this technology can help further decarbonization.
The BMW Group will launch small series of so-called Hydrogen NEXT models from 2022, and the new drive will be implemented in the current BMW X5, which will emit only water vapor as a by-product.
A key role in this is played by the Landshut Technology Center (LuTZ), which produces the most important components for hydrogen-electric propulsion, which will be installed in the BMW X5 models.
The system will use hydrogen and will generate up to 125 kW of electricity for an electric motor that is mounted on the rear axle. The tanks will be able to store 6 kg of hydrogen and oxygen, and the filling time is only 3 to 4 minutes.
The electric motor is the same as in the electric BMW iX3 SUV, and the total power of the system will be 275 kW, or 374 hp.
There is a reason why a 1993 Opel Calibra cost 300,000 German marks. It is a special specimen that came out of the workshop of the famous Günter Artz, a German car dealer, also known for, to put it mildly, the extravagant projects he made.
The Opel Calibra was produced from 1989 to 1997, and was an example of a car that, combining aerodynamics with a striking design (it had a record drag coefficient and then an outstanding appearance), gained a reputation as a cult coupe among enthusiasts.
But one of them, very special, under the sheet metal was actually the famous Opel Lotus Omega, which we recently wrote about.
The unique car was created by Günter Artz, a German car dealer who initially used Volkswagen models as a basis, after which he started using Opel. The goal, Artz says, was to pack performance and speed against all rules and amplify the impression of surprise.
Probably Artz's most famous car is the Golf 928. On the chassis of the damaged Porsche 928, he built a huge 240 hp Golf, which was 21 centimeters wider and 30 centimeters longer than VW's standard model.
In the test, it reached a top speed of 232 km / h, and its price was 150,000 marks, which is more than the original Porsche 928 with 300 hp. Given that, it is no wonder that only two copies of Artz's Golf were made.
However, enthusiasts believe that Artz's "Magnum Opus" was a yellow Lotus Calibra. With an output of 377 hp and a top speed of over 280 km / h, it was a perfect "camouflage", writes Auto Klub.
In addition to under the hood, Lotus' "ingredients" were also used inside the cab. The dashboard, steering wheel and leather seats come from Omega A, and the Lotus signature adorned the dials.
At the time Lotus was part of General Motors, powerful engines such as the 3.6-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder in the Omega or the 5.7-liter V8 in the Corvette C4 ZR-1 were being developed.
Artz initially focused on increasing performance. For the project, he assembled a Lotec version of the six-cylinder with 470 hp, but after bad experiences, a standard engine of 377 hp was installed.
The project was finally named Lotus Calibra - weighing 1.7 tons, shockingly powerful and surprisingly comfortable. Like the Golf 928, the Lotus Calibra was larger than the production version - about 16 centimeters longer and even 12 centimeters wider. In addition, larger alloy wheels wrapped in wider tires were used.
Production cost a real small fortune. The standard Opel Calibra was worth 45,000 marks at the time, and the windows alone, specially made in Italy, cost 13,000, and 17,000 marks had to be paid to Kamei for custom-made bumpers.
The final price of the Lotus Caliber was 300,000 marks, and only a few copies were produced.
The car was approved for use on a public road only in 1993, and the project fell silent after Opel terminated the dealership agreement, so it was shut down in 1995. A year later, Artz gave up the car business.
In 2018, a Dutch company made the first of the planned 20 copies of the Model S Shooting Brake, and this car was even exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019, where its design attracted the attention of four-wheeler fans.
In the end, there was nothing from the ambitious plan because the company failed in the meantime, but the first and only Tesla Model S Shooting Brake survived, writes B92.
This car is sold on the site AutoScout24.nl at a price of 224,521 euros, if the buyer comes from one of the countries of the European Union, while the price for clients from other parts of the world is reduced by VAT and amounts to 185,555 euros.
As it is stated, the original Tesla Model S, on which the caravan is based, was made in 2013, and the car has covered 65,000 km so far. The maximum power of the electric drive is 421 hp (310 kW).
Meet the many-hatted Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered – in one package a stylish fastback, business-class motorway cruiser, zero-tailpipe-emissions planet-pleaser and now, apparently, a powerful sports car.
That's a lot of plates to spin. So it won't surprise you to hear Peugeot's turned to a flexible plug-in hybrid powertrain to achieve it, promising more power than a regular petrol or diesel with the option to run emissions-free for a claimed 26 miles too.
Thing is, the 508 is mostly bought by company-car drivers, who usually only require a posh badge to impress clients, an M Sport bodykit to impress colleagues, and a small diesel engine to impress the fleet manager. Does the PSE model over-complicate things?
Who cares? It's a fast Peugeot!
Well yes, there is that, but consider the £50,000 price tag – for retail customers that puts the 508 PSE in the crosshairs of the BMW M340i and Audi S5 Sportback.
That's not an inherently difficult circle to square, because this is not only a fast Peugeot, but a very fast, very good Peugeot.
508 pse side pan
It's actually the most powerful roadgoing car the French maker has ever sold, in fact, with as much power in its electric motors as the 405 T16 we all so desperately want it to be.
Why doesn't it have a GTi badge?
Peugeot says that's a question only British journalists ask, such is our love of the marque's heritage hot hatchbacks. But the 508 is something entirely different, offering a broader spread of talents than an out-and-out sports saloon.
The Sport Engineered name means it's a 508 first and foremost, with the benefit of being breathed on by Peugeot's go-faster division. It's WandaVision to The Avengers or The Mandalorian to Star Wars.
What's it like to drive?
Fast! But that shouldn't be a surprise, considering the 335bhp and 384lb ft of torque on offer from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, and an all-wheel drive system to help deliver it all cleanly to the tarmac.
It's not as fast as a pure-petrol M340i or S5 with those numbers, because it's heavier than a pure-petrol car. But it's not as heavy as you might imagine – the 1850kg kerbweight is actually pretty good for a PHEV.
The gearbox likes to shuffle up the cogs to save fuel (as is the way these days), but in Sport mode it seems to hang onto them for too long. The best solution is to use the column-mounted manual shift paddles, but these are too short and set too high – more suited to a ten-to-two driver than a quarter-to-three. Plus the left paddle is sandwiched between the left indicator stalk and cruise controls, and this is annoying.
Things are better in the handling department where the 508 PSE is quite neutral in a corner and can be persuaded into a bit of lift-off oversteer as you'd expect in a car fettled by Peugeot Sport. This car is lower and wider than the standard model, and has its own springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
The suspension is adaptive and offers a broad spread of settings, from comfy to firm, although there's always an edge to the ride that reminds you you're in the sportiest version. Otherwise it's typical Peugeot Sport – more hot hatch than a saloon, with light controls, a little bit of bodyroll, and agility and compliance to the ride, which adds huge fun on UK roads.
Only one thing stands out (and being a plug-in hybrid this won't surprise you): the brake pedal is spongy and hard to get dialled into. The 508 PSE is equipped with Alcon calipers and bi-material discs, which offer plenty of stopping power, but without mechanical pedal feel it can be hard to meter out.
How long does it take to charge?
The 11.5kWh battery takes about three to four hours to fill at the standard 3.7kW rate – a 7.4kW charger is an option, dropping the time to one hour and 45 minutes. Either way you only get a Type 2 cable, with no three-pin unless you pay for it.
You need a full battery to get all 355hp, although with no charge the 508 will run as a sort-of hybrid in town, and on the whole it's pretty smooth and unobtrusive.
Pick up the pace, though, and you'll be greeted by the slightly reedy and over-synthesised tone of the petrol engine, which is alright when you want to cruise around in peace, but not very soul-stirring when you crack on. Still, that's another good reason to keep it charged.
Is it any different inside and out?
It's a pretty subtle change in exterior styling – from a distance – but as you get closer you'll notice all sorts of enhancements.
The most stand-out are the Kryptonite green additions, including the new claw logo, and the aggressive diffuser and aero ducting on the front bumper. Small vertical blades stick up on the edges of both and are probably more useful for tucking the cable into while the car's on charge than actually channelling air, but they're quite cool nonetheless.
Inside, you still get Peugeot's divisive i-Cockpit layout with its tiny steering wheel set below the dials, but with more carbonfibre effect material. Overall it's a nice interior, very futuristic-looking, but the hard plastic used for the door bins and under the armrest stick out on a £50,000 car.
Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered: verdict
The 508 has been twice compromised in becoming this Peugeot Sport Engineered model – firstly by adding batteries and electric motors, and then again by giving it a performance focus.
What makes this car stand out against rival performance PHEVs is the fact it gives away very little in terms of outright practicality. The boot capacity is the same as a non-plug-in Pug at 487 litres, and despite being way more fun and accomplished to drive than the standard 508, it's barely any less comfortable day-to-day.
Yes, an old-school straight-six would be a more evocative powerplant, but the ability to drive emissions-free and the overall improvement in fuel economy in this 508 goes a long way to addressing that balance. It's an odd niche, but one that deserves plugging.
Renault is launching a new chapter dedicated to the modernization of the European car industry. At the online presentation, the head of the company Luca de Meo pointed out that out of 10 sold models, nine will have an electrified drive. Renaulution, as a strategic plan of the French company, includes a mix of hybrid and electric models. Seven e-models of the C and D segments will be presented by 2025, and the company's first coupe-crossover - Mégane Conquest marks the beginning of the sales offensive and will arrive in Serbia in June.
In the transition to the automotive industry, Renault intends to become the greenest brand in Europe by 2030, with 9 out of 10 cars sold being electrified models. In the field of technology and services, ie the project "Software Republique" will shape the future of urban mobility. More than 2,000 engineers from five leading companies in the industry will combine their knowledge in the fields of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data processing, software and microelectronics to create mobility solutions tailored to cities and local communities.
In addition, there is the Renault Re-Factory - Europe's first factory dedicated to the circular economy - marking the brand's turn towards a more sustainable and responsible business model with a total of 120,000 recycled or repurposed vehicles (including electric vehicles) per year. Almost 80% of the strategically recycled material will be reused in the new batteries. When it comes to the percentage of the use of recycled materials in new vehicles, Renault intends to take the first place by 2030.
The brand will conquer more segments with its "cars for life". Seven electrified C and D segment models will be introduced by 2025. The Mégane Conquest marks the beginning of a sales offensive.
The new generation Mégane E-Tech Electric, which will be an electric crossover, heralding the future of connected and fully electric vehicles, will also be introduced in the near future. Find out more about the new Megan here.
Finally, the E-Tech hybrid technology will experience further improvements in future models from segments C and D, primarily in terms of efficiency and fun driving characteristics. For now, in addition to the recently introduced Mégane Conquest, Captur E-Tech hybrid and Mégane E-Tech Plug-in hybrid, Renault has a total of six hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
With more than 10 years of expertise and almost 400,000 vehicles sold, Renault holds a leading position in the European electric vehicle market. Thanks to the experience in Formula 1, the brand has developed more than 150 patents that make hybrid technology efficient, fun to drive, with low CO2 emissions and low fuel consumption. This technology was introduced last year in three most important models: the Clio E-Tech hybrid, the Captur and the Megane Grandtour E-Tech Plug-in hybrids.
In the higher segments, especially the C-SUV segment, a new 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor will be introduced, with 200 hp for the hybrid version (2022) and 280 hp for the plug-in hybrid variant with all-wheel drive. (2024)
The first coupe-crossover with the Renault logo
It is the first C-SUV coupe to come with petrol TCe 140 and TCe 160 engines with 12 V microhybrid technology.
There is also a 145 hp hybrid engine that allows up to 80% of city driving on a fully electric drive.
The four-cylinder 1LE delivers amazing handling and no messy tire smoke.
It seems that nearly every review of the Chevrolet Camaro compares it to the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger, and with good reason—these three nameplates are historic foes going back 50 years. Well, Constant Reader, that won't happen today, because the subject of this test is the four-cylinder 2021 Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE, an endangered species that combines the Camaro's smallest engine with the SS model's suspension.
Truth be told, a read of the spec sheet had us thinking that this Camaro's natural enemies might be sport compacts like the Hyundai Veloster N and Volkswagen Golf R. Its 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo I-4, six-speed manual, and emphasis on handling over tire-smoking power would put it in the ballpark, we thought, but a couple weeks of real-world driving disavowed us of this notion. The Camaro 1LE has a very different character than a hot hatch. But it also has a very different character than the brawnier Camaros we've driven. We came away with likes, dislikes, a lot of respect—and a newfound notion that a Camaro equipped like this one really is its own unique thing.
First, a little more about the Camaro 1LE. This is a track performance package that combines FE3 suspension components from the V-8-powered SS with four-piston Brembo front brakes, a mechanical limited-slip differential, a 3.27:1 final drive ratio, a short-throw shifter, and coolers for the engine oil, transmission, and rear differential. The V-6 Camaro 1LE also gets an extended engine cooling system and dual-mode exhaust. The 1LE's exterior elements include a black hood, black lightweight wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 run-flat summer tires, and (strangely) RS badging.
Turbo Four Is Small But Potent
As mentioned, our Camaro 1LE had the 2.0-liter turbo engine, which is the Camaro's smallest but not exactly its least potent. Although the 3.6 liter V-6 beats it on horsepower, with 335 to the 2.0T's 275, the four-cylinder's 295 lb-ft out-torques the six by 11 lb-ft. That said, the 2.0T is slower to 60 mph than either the V-8 (4.1 seconds with an automatic transmission) or the V-6 (5.0 flat with a manual). But a 5.6-second 0-60 time means the 2.0T hardly needs to apologize for its small displacement.
We found we could get quicker acceleration times by launching ourselves (revving to 4,000 rpm before dropping the clutch) rather than using launch mode. The no-lift-shift feature—in which you can keep the accelerator pinned to the floor while you shift gears, and the ECU will keep the revs where they need to be—proved to be a big help, as did the racing-style shift indicator on the head-up display.
One quirk of the four-cylinder Camaro 1LE is its ridiculously tall gearing. Sixth gear is so high that it literally lugs the engine at 65 mph. Short of investing in a new gearbox, we suppose Chevrolet could fit a shorter final drive and improve the Camaro's sprinting ability, but then you'd run out of revs in first gear way too quickly. The gear spread and speed ranges feel perfect just the way they are, so we can live with a sixth gear that is only for cruising on superhighways. We rarely shifted above fifth and still managed better than 20 mpg.
1LE Means This Camaro Can Handle
But the 1LE is all about handling, and it was out on our favorite twisty roads that our affection for this particular Camaro really blossomed—and the differences between it and our favorite hot hatchbacks started to emerge. A good sport compact attacks the curves with a big, stupid grin, but the Camaro wears the concentrated grimace of a professional. It's not joyless, just focused.
Like a good hot hatch, the Camaro's limits are high but accessible. It grips with heroic tenacity, though we were amused to note that on the skidpad, it was grippier in right turns (1.03 g average) than left turns (0.98 g average), something left-to-right weight distribution (49.9/50.1 percent) doesn't seem to explain—especially with the driver further loading the left side. Out on the open road, if you get cute and try to provoke the Camaro 1LE, it'll let go in an instant, especially if the tires are cold—but the telepathic connection between driver and car is so good that you'll likely have it gathered up just as quickly.
One of the key arguments in favor of the four-cylinder 1LE over other Camaro models is reduced weight on the nose, though we're not sure there's much real-world difference. Our test car weighed precisely 100 pounds less than the last V-6 manual Camaro we tested, but front/rear weight distribution was identical at 52%/48%. It's a different story compared to the V-8, which carries 54 percent of its weight on the front wheels.
But whatever conversations are happening between the Camaro 1LE and Sir Isaac Newton, what the driver experiences is some kind of magic. Turn-in is buttery-smooth, and once in the curves the feedback from the steering is wonderful, with the front tires serving as your eyes and ears on the road surface. Rolling out of a turn, the steering does its best to guide you back to straight and true as you experience another benefit of the four-cylinder engine: You can open the throttle wide with no worries of the rear tires breaking loose and introducing an unwanted variable into your driving equation. Drag race with the V-8, but if your ideal road is curvy rather than straight, the 2.0T is the engine you want.
That is, most of the time.
Here's the problem: As much as we enjoyed, liked, and admired the four-cylinder Camaro 1LE on the curvy roads, it wasn't the fun-loving daily driver we were hoping for.
We all know the Camaro's built-in foibles: terrible outward visibility, awkward ingress and egress (exacerbated by our test car's $1,595 Recaro bucket seats), a strictly theoretical back seat, and a pint-sized trunk. That's not what we're talking about. And although it's easy to bag on the Camaro's cabin, we can't fault the ergonomics, driving position, or control layout. The touchscreen infotainment system is straightforward and easy to learn, and we love the climate controls—the idea of turning the chrome rings surrounding the vents into temperature controls is pure Joe Cool genius.
Our problem is that, unlike our favorite hot hatchbacks, the day-to-day driving experience is a bit, well, bleak. The 1LE isn't offered with an automatic transmission, which we love—but even for die-hard stick-shifters like us, the Camaro's heavy clutch and intractable shifter crowd the line between cheer and chore.
Sound, Or Lack Thereof
But the turbo Camaro's worst sin is its awful engine note. We know that a four-cylinder engine can't generate the deep rumble of a V-8, but with this 2.0T, it's as if GM's engineers didn't even try to make it sound good. Below 4,500 rpm all it can manage is an insipid, uninspired buzz that is too characterless to be called flatulent. Seriously, we cannot overstate how awful this engine sounds. We attempted to convey this to a car-enthusiast friend who expressed disbelief that any engine could sound as bad as we described—until we took him for a ride.
It's only in the top 1,000 rpm or so of its rev range that the Camaro's engine shows some aural promise, but given the flat torque characteristics and tall gearing, there's rarely any reason to rev it into the stratosphere. Come on, Chevrolet—Honda has been building awesome-sounding four-cylinders for decades. Even the Hyundai Veloster N makes better noises. We're giving you detention until you can work out how to make this thing sound like what it is—an honest-to-goodness performance engine.
Herein lies our one major issue with the four-cylinder Camaro 1LE: Not to keep dragging Hyundai into this, but the Veloster N is good fun whether you're tearing up the curves or running your kids to school. The Camaro is great when it's running hard, but we want it to be that much fun all of the time.
Would that make it a better car? It would be a more engaging one, to be sure, but perhaps that isn't what Chevrolet had in mind. The 1LE is, after all, meant to be a track package. What the four-cylinder Camaro 1LE does best is prove that the Camaro is truly a multitalented vehicle. It's not just a muscle car, and it's not quite a sport compact. Instead, the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE Turbo is truly its own thing—and that thing is pretty darn talented.