Long road trip with the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 quattro
The Audi Q4 50 e-tron stands in the Audi Forum like the ancient Greek messenger of the gods Hermes himself. Audi’s first electric SUV in the compact segment looks sublime and powerful in its edition one typhoon grey design. The metallic exterior colour gleams in the sun, while the contrasting paint finish in myth black and the bronze matt quite large Audi Sport wheels with 5-W spoke stars shimmer slightly. The S-Line shapes seem to flow into one another, helped by the black plus optics package including darkened Matrix LED headlights and rear light strip. And then there are the Audi rings foiling in bronze on the sides – like wings at rest, invisibly able to spread mightily over the aerodynamic body to start the longed-for journey.
Itinerary with stops to enjoy
We have a long road trip ahead of us. It’s holiday time and the sea is calling! The destination: the Adriatic pearl of Split in Croatia, about 1000 kilometres away. This route with a combustion engine is no problem at all. But what about an electric vehicle?
Before I set off, I check the route with possible charging stations. Without charging and traffic jams, the journey takes about eleven hours. If I include the charging times, the journey time increases to about 15 hours without incidents. The decision is made quickly. I will make a stopover with an overnight stay in Istria, 600 kilometres away. The peninsula on the northern Adriatic was already popular with the ancient rich Romans because of its excellent wines and unique olive oil. Wine and olive oil are still among the best in the world, and from the fifties of the last century the excellent black and white truffles have joined them.
130 instead of the permitted 100
When I press the start button, there is a quiet but clearly audible, futuristic whirring sound; like a turbine. 299 horsepower, distributed over two electric motors, are hidden under the bonnet. The range is now about 400 kilometres. That changes drastically on the motorway. First I step on the gas. In 6.2 seconds, 100 km/h are reached. At 184 km/h, it’s over due to the electronic limit, which is officially 180 km/h. The range drops rapidly to 320 kilometres. The range drops rapidly to 320 kilometres. I learn that the power loss at high speeds is even greater than the fuel consumption of a combustion engine. Shortly before Austria, I charge the car from 20% to 100% at a fast-charging station. After 45 minutes, the journey continues.
I am legally whizzing along the Austrian motorway at 130 km/h, even though the traffic signs indicate a limit of 100 km/h. However, this environmental limit recently only applies to combustion engines and hybrids. With navigation and active cruise control, the adaptive driving assistant intervenes. The compact SUV now drives almost by itself. Starting, braking, cruise control. Due to the constant speed, the range is now around 380 kilometres. There you go…
It’s getting dark. The Matrix LED headlights offer a fascinating light show on the road. I am particularly taken with the motorway light. Like a curtain opening in a theatre, it offers a view almost like daytime. The e-tron route planner by Audi navigates me to the nearest charging station. Austria is super set up – almost every motorway filling station is equipped with a charger. Another charging stop is not necessary.
Istria – In the luxury holiday resort of the Romans
After just under eight hours I reach my first destination in Istria. I park the car in the spacious forecourt of Villa Ottocento in Krasnica, which impresses with its beauty in the truest sense of the word. Originally from the 19th century, it has been reconstructed in the traditional manner. The year 1880 is inscribed on it by the Zlatic family of stonemasons, who erected this monument from white local Kanfanar stone. Now there is not only this wonderful main house with the billowing cotton curtains on the veranda – another guest house adorns the spacious property. Both are surrounded by wonderful gardens that extend over 3000 square metres. I feel as if I have been transported back to Roman times on an emperor’s estate, Istria was rightly called Terra Magica back then.
Villa Ottocento: “The owner loves art!”
I get to choose a room in the guest house. The interior is characterised by a perfect mix of tradition and modernity. “The owner from the USA loves art,” Tomislav Stengl, friend of the owner and manager of the property, tells me as he leads me through the main house. I take his word for it. Unique furniture, hand-knotted carpets from Iran, several hundred-year-old works of art in the form of paintings and sculptures make me travel through the wide world and centuries … The property is a museum where the guest is allowed to stay! I enter the spacious veranda of my room.
A large heated pool and olive tree plantations please my eyes. It is quiet. Only the buzzing of the bees collecting the precious honey from the lavender flowers can be heard. Of course, a chef, a butler and a concierge are included in the price. My stay is a perfect retreat from stress of any kind. A private wellness area and a cinema room are also located within the old walls – there is no room for boredom here.
Clay Winery, the resting place for fine wines
In the near vicinity is the Clay winery. “There are high-voltage plugs there. You are welcome to charge your car there. The owner wants to install wall boxes for the guests this year,” Tom explains to me. The manager goes with me. I feel uncomfortable because the car is quite dirty from the long drive. However, when we get to the car, it is spotlessly clean! An employee of the estate has “briefly” hosed it down with water so that I don’t get dirty when I get in.
“Our eco-malvazija works like an hour of yoga!”
The way to the winery is incredibly beautiful. As expected, it goes through the vineyards. The sun shines from a cloudless sky and the green of the vine leaves seems to want to compete with it. I have to stop for a moment. What a silence that has a harmonious effect on the membranes of our cells. The vineyard at 200 metres above sea level is small. Ten hectares are adorned with vines, and olive trees grow on an additional five. The vineyards offer organic red and white wine. Especially the regional and old varieties Pjenusac and Malvazija are quickly sold out. However, so are the remaining varieties. “Our Malvazija is like an hour of yoga,” the nice lady who works there explains to me. I don’t drink alcohol, but I do want to taste the deep golden colour of this divine nectar. And I don’t regret it! A harmonious firework unfolds in my mouth! Barely tasting the alcohol, it is as if the sun spreads its warm rays in the oral cavity so that the warmth makes the taste of the sweet fruit melt more intensely on the tongue and palate.
I am inspired and amazed at the same time. Tom smiles: “That’s because we work in harmony with nature. We give the fruit time and make wine in the old traditional way.” The luxurious drops mature in wooden barrels for about two years. The result: organic wines of the highest quality in limited quantities. No wonder there is a big crowd. I enjoy the view from the terrace with a last glass of wine in my hand before I walk back to my beautiful room to enjoy the Milky Way from the roof terrace one last time.
Next Stop: Split
The next early morning promises: it will be hot on the Croatian coast. The air conditioning will have to do its full work. Split is 491 kilometres away. According to my calculations, we will have to charge once before we reach Split. There are several charging stations along the Croatian motorway, but hardly any Hyperchargers. You have to be content with a maximum of 50 kWh. Even if the battery lasts until the destination after a charging stop – lunch in the coastal city of Zadar is worth a longer (charging) break. The old Roman city has several AC charging points in the old town. And I’m even lucky – no one is occupying the e-parking spaces.
Everything goes smoothly until Split. The Dalmatian city is the largest in southern Croatia. The former Roman emperor Diocletian, who came from here, built himself a palace right on the beach as his retirement residence, which still attracts millions of tourists today with its idyllic alleys. If it works out with the shop in the smaller coastal towns, it will be no obstacle here.
Villa Bliss: Hidden Dream Being
I live in Villa Bliss, which is built in a modern industrial style. Spacious and open rooms, brightly lit as enough light can penetrate through the glass fronts. And yet you don’t feel observed, you have the feeling on arrival that the villa is in a densely populated area. Because of its elevation, it offers anonymity, but also a wonderful view of the bay of Split, which is only 15 kilometres away. We are at the gates of Split in the historic coastal town of Kastela, which consists of seven castle villages that protected the coast in the Middle Ages.
When I arrive, it is already dark. The blood-red full moon is just appearing on the horizon, making the water of the Adriatic glisten mystically, while the multi-faceted lights of Split shine around it. I enjoy the natural spectacle from the terrace and catch sight of the large pool. Ahoy to my morning lanes before breakfast!
In the home of the Emperor Diocletian
The morning light illuminates the property in its full glory. Before my astonished eyes, a 5000 square metre garden opens up, consisting of the family’s own olive grove, pine forest and botanical garden, which seems to dive into the Adriatic Sea like an infinity pool! The water is calm and the sun’s rays make the surface look like an army of dancing diamonds. I first jump into the spacious pool, which is also heated in winter. After a few laps, I walk through the gardens with my tea. I can’t get enough of the scent of the wild herbs that grow and thrive there! I decide to stay in this oasis today.
Maria, the owner of the villa, calls me. Would I like to go to a fish restaurant tonight? Of course I don’t say no! I enjoy the afternoon by the pool and work from the balcony, overlooking the archipelago, which could also be from the Greek legends. The villa has 450 square metres of living space, where up to ten people can sleep in the five spacious bedrooms. I plugged the Audi into the household socket in the garage when I arrived the night before. The battery is sufficiently charged. I drive to Split to meet Maria. The young pretty woman built this villa together with her parents. The property comes from her grandparents. We have her to thank for the stylish interior. She is happy to show me the old town. We walk deep into the heart of the historic walls of Diocletian’s Palace. The narrow streets are busy and the numerous cafés, bars and restaurants are full. And yet it is quiet and pleasant. Maria has booked a table at the fine fish restaurant Pink. The courses are, of course, exquisite. Afterwards, she shows me the most beautiful corners of the old town and tells me something about her history and her life. “You know what? A friend of mine is having a pool party today! I’ll just take you with me!” With locals at a private party? I’ll gladly take that opportunity! The star of the evening is, of course, the Audi Q4 e-tron! Interesting conversations continue until the early hours of the morning.
Charging nightmare in Split
The next morning it’s time to say goodbye. My road trip takes me on to Sarajevo. Maria’s parents have arrived. The warm family makes it hard for me to say goodbye. Before I leave, I buy some of the house’s olive oil, which comes from the fruit in the garden. They add two litres – a gift! Before I leave the Dalmatian coast, I want to have breakfast in the old town at the famous Riva pedestrian zone. The Audi navigation system shows me only a few charging stations. I let it navigate me to the nearest DC charging station, which is close to the old town. Arriving at the point, there is no charging station. The same thing happens on the second attempt. I now use the app ABRP, which shows me more charging stations. However, the DC pillar is a little further away from the old town. Welcome to the charging hell in Split! It’s 36 degrees Celsius, the traffic in the port city is enormous. And then there’s the fact that the local drivers are very temperamental. No mercy for cars with foreign licence plates! After about half an hour’s drive, we reach the pillar. However, all the spaces are taken. I give up. It’s noon by now, the stomach is still empty and the car is still not connected to the charging current. I drive out of town to the Porsche Centre in the industrial area and let it charge there for about half an hour. The employee is aware of how poor the charging infrastructure is in the city. He tells me about Plugshare, another app for charging stations that works very well in these latitudes. I now jump between three apps and the e-tron route planner to find the ideal charging station in the city.
In the end, I end up in the biggest shopping mall in the city. The charging station is also not where it is listed in the app. By chance, I drive past it when I want to leave the car park in frustration. I now spend the waiting time in an unsexy café with air conditioning instead of on the magnificent Riva at Diocletian’s Palace. Taking a taxi would be pointless, as the traffic is heavy. While I sip my juice listlessly, the news is on the radio. The Tesla Museum in Croatia has to remain closed until further notice because the power in the building has failed. I have to grin. The car is fully charged. The app of the charging station provider shows it. Hermes is the god of travellers and traffic, but also of thieves. Today he probably didn’t mean it very well with me. Nevertheless, the positive aspects of an e-road trip outweigh the negative. And let’s be honest, do you have to be in a hurry on holiday? Thanks to e-mobility, people practice patience. However, it’s hard to forgive the winged god for missing breakfast on Split’s famous Riviera.
Text: Mirella Sidro
Images: Dino Kadragic
Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro
Power: 299 PS
Torque: 460 NM
0-100 km/h: 6.2 seconds
Range (WLTP): 412 – 488 KM
Weight (DIN): 2210 KG
Price from: 76.850,00 €