Geneva Motor Show: Audi’s all-electric; Nissan’s got a futuristic Qashqai

Q4 e-Tron concept the star of Audi’s stand while Nissan’s IMq is a Qashqai preview


Audi promised to bring nothing but electric (well, half-electric at least) cars to Geneva, and the star of the four-ringed stand is the Q4 e-Tron concept. It’s the third all-electric Audi to be revealed (following on from the e-Tron quattro SUV production car and the e-Tron GT four-door coupe concept) and will go on sale in late 2020. By 2025, it will be one of a dozen fully-electric models that Audi will sell.

It’s Audi’s first car to use the Volkswagen Group ‘MEB’ electric car platform (the e-Tron GT is on Porsche’s Taycan chassis while the e-Tron quattro SUV uses modified Audi Q5 underpinnings) and uses two electric motors (it has quattro four-wheel drive, of course) to generate 302hp. Audi claims it has a one-charge range of 450km — not a lot less than that of the e-Tron quattro, and it does the usual 30-min fast charging if you can find a charging point that runs at 125kW.

Although officially billed as a concept, the interior looks more or less production-ready, with only the lightest of motor show sheens over the now-usual Audi three-screen layout. The little rocker-switch selector for the gear shift is an especially neat touch, and really cleans up the centre console layout.

Solar paint

Even the styling looks to be more or less ready to go. The paint, called ‘Solar Sky’ incorporates a special pigment that reflects heat from the sun, meaning that you have to use less battery energy to run the air conditioning on a hot day.

Skoda showed off similar technology on a Scala hatchback concept last year, so expect this to be on the options list when sales actually start. The massive ‘singleframe’ grille will possibly be toned down a little for production, and the front of the car made a little less cliff-face vertical for pedestrian protection purposes, but other than that, expect to see a Q4 nestling between a Q3 and a Q5 in your local Audi showroom before Christmas 2020.

Already well settled into showrooms by then will be Audi’s linuep of plugin hybrids. Plugin versions of the A6, A7, A8 and Q5 are all on show in Geneva, all sharing the same basic layout of a turbo petrol engine combined with a 14kWh battery pack and an electric motor. All three, badged TFSIe, can go for more than 40km on just the batteries when fully charged. They three do differ slightly, though. The A6, A7, and A8 all get the same battery pack, but the Q5’s is slightly different, while the A8 gets a big 3.0-litre V6 turbo engine. Sporty S-Line models will also be able to squeeze a bit more power out of their drivertrains for sharper responses.

Finally on Audi’s electric list is a heavily-disguised e-Tron quattro Sportback; basically a chop-top version of the exisiting e-Tron quattro. Instead of an upright SUV rear end, it now gets a sharply angled tailgate, giving it sleeker lines as Audi wants it to take on the handsome (and European Car Of The Year winning) Jaguar I-Pace. The front of the car also looks a little more sleek and sporty than that of the existing e-Tron quattro, but we’ll have to wait a little while longer to find out if it has similar performance figures.

Nissan’s future

Slightly less production-ready, but arguably of even greater importance to the average car buyer is Nissan’s IMq concept. While it’s a big (4.5-metre long) almost-luxury car concept, the styling and some of the interior cues are expected to be very close to what we’ll see on the all-new Qashqai, when that arrives in 2020. It’s been designed around the Japanese concept of minimalism called ‘May’ (nothing to do with Brexit, we’re assured…) and features a heavily V-shaped front end with a prominent and deep grille, even though its range-extender powertrain doesn’t actually need all that much cooling. Obviously, such things as the rear-hinged rear doors, and the cabin with its ‘floating’ seats hung off the big centre console will be toned down for production, but the overall shape and styling is in its basics what you’ll see on the next Qashqai.

That powertrain is made up of a turbo petrol 1.5-litre engine (likely a much-modified version of the existing 1.33-litre engine shared between Nissan, Renault, and Mercedes) mated to a battery-and-motor system which, combined, has 340hp. Oddly, though, it’s not a plugin hybrid and the petrol engine doesn’t seem to drive the wheels. It’s there simply as a generator to charge the batteries and keep the electric motors turning, running at constant rpm.

“The IMQ’s design combines traditional and modern Japanese influences and shows what’s possible when future crossovers are powered by Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Nissan senior VP for design, Alfonso Albaisa. “With the IMQ, the interior and exterior are seamlessly blended together, signaling what our design direction may be for Nissan’s third generation of crossovers in Europe. ”