Is Skoda’s electric Enyaq the true people’s car?

New battery SUV puts one over its VW cousin

Skoda Enyaq
    
Year: 2021
Fuel: Electric

Since the early 1990s there has been a steady drip-drip-drip of new Skodas which, borrowing liberally from the Volkswagen parts bin, have actually been nicer cars than their VW cousins. You do start to wonder exactly when Volkswagen is going to bring Skoda to heel.

The current Octavia is a near perfect example. All the same bits as the Golf 8, and objectively about as good/bad in each individual area, but just somehow a nicer, more likeable, and yes, a better car.

Now we come to the Skoda Enyaq iV, the Czech brand’s first all-electric model (well, the first in Ireland; we never got the neat but expensive little Citigo iV) and here, the eastern European car hasn’t just put one over its VW opposite number – the Volkswagen ID.4 – it has comprehensively wrestled it to the mat and left it dazed in defeat.

Well, potentially it has anyway. So far, we’ve not truly spent enough time with the new Enyaq to come to a comprehensive decision, but our brief drive so far was enough to put the mockers on the car from Wolfsburg.


It starts with the styling. The ID.4 is handsome in a slightly quiet, rounded-off bar of soap way. The Enyaq is arguably not as pretty, but is more distinctive, with a big upright grille and sharper cheekbones, not unlike a current BMW, but better looking on the whole. The Enyaq is a little longer than the ID.4 (4,649mm compared to 4,584mm) and most of that is in the rear overhang. Skoda has extended the rear bodywork a bit to create a truly massive 585-litre boot (the VW manages 543lt). So it's more practical, but then that's simply par for the course for Skoda, as a brand, it likes big boots.

Further up front, though, is where the Enyaq really puts some clear air between it and the VW. The cabin is really quite gorgeous and even though the ID.4’s interior fit and finish marked an improvement over the smaller VW ID.3 hatchback, the Skoda’s cabin leaves both for dead. It’s a little more conventional, there are some physical buttons (thanks heaven for that) and a small toggle-style gear selector on the centre console instead of the VW’s flick-switch behind the steering wheel.

The cabin is dominated by a vast 13-inch infotainment screen, standard across all models for now. Well, it would be dominated by that were it not for our test car having €1,986 worth of Eco Suite Interior fitted, which swaddles the interior in caramel coloured imitation leather. The effect is something close to decadence, and combined with excellent seat comfort and support, and a sense of space and airiness that’s enhanced by the panoramic glass roof, it’s really quite a lovely place in which to while away a long journey.

Which you’ll be able to do. Our test car was fitted with the largest 80kWh battery – a version which Skoda Ireland says is currently making up the majority of orders – which means a WLTP one-charge range of 535km. Even with the air conditioning going and motorway miles slipping beneath the big wheels (staggered wheels, 21-inch rims at the back and 20-inch rims at the front) you should get at least 400km without difficulty. It’ll charge at a maximum speed of 125kW too, so you won’t be left sitting for too long at a charger.

Refinement, bar an occasional noisy clonk from the rear suspension, is excellent, as you’d expect.

Skoda Ireland has made much of the fact that some of the chassis development was done on Irish roads, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. It hasn’t made the Enyaq into some kind of performance car in disguise. Instead, it drives like most other Skodas, with smoothness and competence. Press on and the steering is relatively brisk across its locks and the nose tucks neatly into corners but you can feel the weight pushing you into early understeer, and the ride quality can become a little lumpy when rushed. Better by far to just sit back and relax.

To be honest, it’s hard to find much of a chink in the Enyaq’s armour. Okay, so with an options-in price tag of €57,712, our test car was hardly cheap. Then again, not many electric cars are, just yet, and if it helps you can have a basic Enyaq, with the 60KWh battery and a 412km range, for €37,465. Skoda Ireland will sell you one of those for €359 per month on a 4.9 per cent APR PCP plan, if you like.

Mind you, there’s only a few left available for purchase this year, but Skoda says 1,200 production slots have been secured for 2022, so you might have more luck then. You’ll still get the big touchscreen, keyless entry, and two-zone climate. The instrument panel is also slightly odd – small and seemingly buried in a small rabbit hole behind the steering wheel. It’s easy enough to read, as it goes, although the battery remaining graph is a little indistinct and you can tell that it’s been setup for a windscreen-projected head-up display – an option which was not fitted to our test car.

That’s about it in the debit column, though. The Enyaq, as we long suspected it might, has arrived as a hugely competent, rather surprisingly desirable, family-friendly, electric SUV, and one that seriously calls into question the wisdom of buying the same car with a Volkswagen badge.

The People’s Car, it seems, has been thoroughly out-manoeuvred by the Bohemian People’s Car.

Lowdown: Skoda Enyaq iV 80

Power: 150kW permanent magnet electric motor putting out 204hp and 310Nm of torque with a single-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive.

CO2 emissions (annual motor tax): 0g/km (€120).

Electric consumption: 17.4kWh per 100km.

Range: 535km (WLTP)

0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds.

Price: €57,712 as tested (Enyaq starts at €37,465)

Our rating: 4/5

Verdict: Skoda builds a better electric Volkswagen.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring