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Audi Q4 e-tron: Learning to live with an electric car without a charging station at home

Audi Q4 e-tron

There are many reasons to switch to an electric car – the environment, cost savings and the often more pleasant driving style are three at first glance.

But on the other hand, there are also many reasons not to buy. When making the decision of which car to buy next, chances are that something electric is high on the list and you’re not only calculating the numbers, but also the pros and cons of charging, range and coverage newfangled technology.

I just picked up my newest long-term test car, the Audi Q4 e-tron, after a number of internal combustion engine cars that are easy to refuel and I had to get my head around life in this electric future.

Audi Q4 e-tronThe Q4 offers plenty of space

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a charging station at home, so I’m currently content with plugging the Audi into a normal socket in the garage, such as a high-pressure cleaner. Charging this way is the slowest way – a recent charge from a half-full battery took 17 hours.

Yeah, this might sound like a lifetime, but I plugged it in on a Friday night when I got home and didn’t do much on Saturday, so it was done charging when I got back to it. Of course, this is not the best way to go, but until I have a proper charging station installed at home, it has to be done.

Not all electric cars come with a three-prong charging cable that you can use to do this, and I would suggest if you are looking for an electric car, give one a try.

You’ll likely settle down at home to properly charge at some point, but if you’re visiting relatives or a hotel with no charging point, it’s a guaranteed way to ensure you can add some miles when needed.

If you don’t have a weekend to charge your car, you can always quickly top it up in a public spot. I used the Genie Point 50kw charger at my local grocery store and it’s a much faster way to add a few miles to the range. You don’t need an app to start it up and you can do so quickly on the company’s mobile website.

In terms of range, I’ve had mixed results with the Audi. I currently have about 270 miles after a full charge. This Launch Edition is supposed to travel 305 miles, but I still need to see that on the dashboard after a charge.

However, 270 miles is very useful and often means you don’t need to plan on topping up on your trip. This is handy because the public charging infrastructure across the UK is downright pathetic. In my experience, the only thing left to do is to make it work, which can make long trips very stressful.

Audi Q4 e-tronThe Q4 was put into operation quickly

I believe that electric cars must have a range of more than 250 miles to be usable. I don’t buy into the arguments of manufacturers of cars with small ranges that most customers simply don’t need it. That’s just a spin from a company that made a car with too small a range.

How is the Audi? Well, the first impression is very good. I was seriously considering buying an electric vehicle myself and even put a deposit on a Tesla Model 3 earlier this year until they messed me up so badly that I canceled it. I’m glad they did because I actually think this e-tron is better.

While a Model 3 may have a cool cache, the Audi is supported by a “real” dealer network and built by a manufacturer with decades of experience.

Most people won’t even know the e-tron is electric as it looks a lot like a regular company’s SUV. There’s plenty of practical and usable space inside, and while the ride may be a bit tiring, I love the high riding position and comfortable seats.

The specification of this early Launch Edition is a bit strange. It might have something to do with the lack of microchips when they built it, but it lacks a lot of the things you would expect from an Audi that costs £ 55,000. There are no electric seats, parking cameras or front parking sensors, and the doors have the buttons for keyless entry, but not the technology.

It also feels a bit thin in places. I jumped from a Q5 into the Q4 and immediately noticed that the doors feel completely different – the doors of the electric car are much lighter and don’t close with the same satisfying thump.

However, the multimedia system is superb and a breeze with wireless Apple CarPlay (which should be in every car). The heating gets on my nerves every now and then – no matter what temperature I set, it seems to blow hair-dryer-hot air.

So far, life with an electric vehicle has been, on the whole, very comfortable. I find its driving style – fast if you want it, but quiet for most – a relaxed way of finding seats, and I’m a big fan of its chunky looks. It will surely be interesting to see how that fits into life over the next few months, and if I ever want to come back to life to refuel at the pumps.


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