Skoda Enyaq iV review: the electric SUV that shows the Czechs build a better Volkswagen

Andrew English
·10-min read
Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

Last month, Volkswagen’s appointed investigators wound up their investigation into precisely who knew what in the diesel emissions-cheating scandal. Five years of work, 480 million documents examined, countless interviews, several arrests and jail terms, and some owners’ class actions settled; it’s been a marathon.

Early reports indicate that Volkswagen will be pursuing actions for damages against former chief executive Martin Winterkorn and his equivalent at Audi, Rupert Stadler – the latter recently described by one of my German colleagues as “a man of disgrace”.

Well, they all are. They duped everyone, although the investigations are spreading wider, with allegations that other German car makers were using equally underhand, if harder to find, “defeat devices”.

So where does this leave us? No one trusts car makers any more and the UK and EU have virtually mandated electric cars. VW’s spin is that was then and this is now. Its riposte is £54 billion investment in an all-new electric range based around its modular electric platform (MEB), using the same lithium-ion battery pack in a trio of sizes. This will be shared across all the Group’s marques, while Ford has bought into it as well.

Spot the difference

This car, the Skoda Enyaq, is the first non-VW use of the platform, but since it shares the same batteries-in-the-floor structure and rear-mounted, rear-drive configuration (although 4x4 and speedy RS versions are on their way), with MacPherson-strut front, multi-link rear suspension and similar steering components, just how different can it be?

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

In the new age of car making, this will be a dilemma for manufacturers; selling the same thing with a different set of clothes and marketing story.

So apart from the deal, design and the dynamics are the key differences. Road tests of the future are going to be short and sweet.

I have to say, however, that the Skoda is a mile different from the Volkswagen ID.4, with enough interesting detail to make it appear less like a spaceship even if the light-up grille bars look like the teeth on a Halloween skeleton costume. The cutaways around the front and rear LED lights might look derivative (Toyota’s C-HR, for example) but the effect is modern and attractive, if not what we normally expect from this generally conservative Czech firm.

Choice of battery power and drive motors

Skoda will offer the Enyaq with a couple of battery sizes: 82kWh gross (77kWh net) with a 204PS motor and 62kWh gross (58kWh net) with a 179PS motor. The WLTP range for the larger battery is 333 miles, with 256 miles for the smaller one.

Recharging times on a 7.2kW home wall box are 13 hours for the larger battery, nine for the smaller. On a DC charger with the capacity of 125kW, the 82kWh model will charge from 10 to 80 per cent in about 40 minutes, though our experience with a similarly-powered ID.4 on more commonly found 50kW DC chargers suggests you should allow a good hour and a half to get an 80 per cent charge.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

Skoda claims an efficiency of 4.0 miles per kWh, but on a modest 90-minute run on a chilly spring day I saw 2.8 miles per kWh, which puts the total range nearer to 162 miles than the posted 256. Government figures give this sort of car a well-to-wheels carbon dioxide equivalent of 58g/km and even on our more generous calculation it produces between 32.8g/km and 52g/km depending whether you take the published WLTP range or our indicative one.

Trims and specifications

There are five trim packs, which all sound like rooms from a chi-chi hotel: Loft; Lodge; Lounge; Suite; and ecoSuite. These, according to the random word generator speech from designer Stefan Webelhorst, are “exciting in every way, yet feeling flawlessly familiar”.

Nonsense, of course, but also vaguely close to the truth and, with a rather more conventional dashboard layout and gear selector than the ID.4, the Enyaq feels a more natural place to sit, while some of the recycled trim materials are really rather nice and won’t scare your passengers witless.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

It’s on sale now and the first deliveries are in June. Prices start from £34,495 for the 62kWh base version, with the top models with that battery size costing a whisker under £35,000, which means they will be able to attract the Government’s reduced plug in grant of £2,500. The 82kWh battery versions start at £39,350, rising to £40,920.

Interior appointments

We tried the 62kWh version in Loft trim with an initial value of £31,995, although Skoda had crammed more than £10,000 of extras on it, including the £1,240 Convenience Plus including an electrically-opening tailgate, keyless entry, wireless phone charging and privacy glass; a £925 Assisted driver plus pack including adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, lane assist and traffic jam assist.

There was lots of other stuff, but most significant was the £1,005 heat pump-based heating system that saves up to 4kWh per 62 miles driven, which means in the winter a thus-equipped Enyaq will travel up to 30 per cent farther per full charge.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

Scarcely believably, Skoda will also charge £440 for 100kW DC charging capability and £645 for a universal charging cable – no wonder thieves have started to target these cables…

The front seats are wide and generously bolstered, with lots of storage space around them. The rear seats are also generously proportioned with plenty of leg and headroom. While the centre console juts dangerously rearward, you can carry three adults across.

The rear seat backs split 60/40 per cent on to their bases, but the load bed is heavily stepped so you’d struggle to slide a refrigerator in there. Under the creaking electric tailgate the boot is a generous 585 litres with the rear seats up and 1,710 litres with them folded. The base has a false floor but no spare wheel well.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

On the road

My first impression is that after the mechanically similar VW ID.4 it’s nice to be driving a car which isn't decked out like the Millennium Falcon. The grey fabric of the Loft option is comfortingly plush and the deep, wide dashboard gives a feel like the old Renault Espace.

Not so great is the central touchscreen, which has subsumed the heater controls and hidden them like the Holy Grail. While there are eight piano-key switches underneath, they don’t seem to do anything very useful and you spend a deal of time with your eyes off the road. There's a voice recognition system, which should help direct things such as the heating and ventilation, but it doesn’t and continually interrupts conversations like a really annoying toddler.

The dashboard’s saving grace compared with the Tesla Model 3 is the central instrument binnacle, though I’d like a little more information about how much battery range there is and how far away the next recharge point is.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

There’s no one-pedal operation available, either, though behind the steering wheel are a couple of paddles which increase the amount of recuperation braking and perform much the same role.

On 20-inch Bridgestone tyres, the ride was never going to be scintillating and so it proves. Compared with the ID.4, the Enyaq rides more stiffly and the tyres clomp loudly into potholes. There’s been some clever work with the chassis, however and the Enyaq doesn’t fling your head from side to side on country roads, while the rear-wheel-drive traction on wet and muddy surfaces is first rate. In all it feels more natural than the ID.4, but some folk will value the VW’s softness.

Weighing about two tonnes, even with 177bhp and 229lb ft to motivate it, the performance is gentle rather than light-ship fast. Put your foot down and the response is progressive and measured, though it is a pleasant change to drive an electric car which doesn’t take off like a scalded weasel when you press the pedal. You notice the lack of go at higher speeds, especially when overtaking, where your optimism is more swiftly tempered than the manoeuvre.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

It might be a rear-motor, rear-drive car but there’s nothing particularly sporting about the dynamics. Not that there should be, as this is a family bus and none the worse for it. The steering is well weighted and accurate and dialling in Sport on the pointless driving mode selector merely introduces stodgy weight and stiction.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s the Enyaq’s honesty that impresses; it’s a pleasant car with an appealing range of interior options and performance more tailored to its typical duties than its rivals, including the VW.

What’s not quite so honest is the contortions to get the list price below the £35,000 threshold for a plug-in grant – dipping too deeply on the options makes it too expensive to qualify.

Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda Enyaq iV

Neither is the range, although Skoda is not alone here, it’s the EU and the UK Government that came up with this test.

Be stingy with the options, recharge it on a home wall box and keep a fossil-fuel car for long runs and this is a genuinely useful default-use vehicle, but please don’t go thinking it’s an environmental free lunch.

The facts

Skoda Enyaq iV 60

TESTED 58kWh net (62kWh gross) lithium-ion battery driving rear electric motor, single-speed step-down gear, rear-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE from £34,495 as tested without Government plug in grant of £2,500, £40,265 /now for delivery in June

POWER/TORQUE 177bhp/229lb ft

TOP SPEED 99mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 8.4sec

RANGE 256 miles (WLTP)

ECONOMY 4 miles per kWh

CO2 EMISSIONS none at tailpipe, well-to-wheel greenhouse-gas emissions 32.8g/km

VED zero rated

VERDICT For a top hat and trim pack on VW’s MEB platform, Skoda has done a good job here. The Enyaq rides and drives more naturally than its VW equivalent the ID.4 and it’s a nicer car to sit in. As with all EVs, however, the range falls off dramatically if you drive hard or live on a hill or turn the heater on. Oh, and the options list is toe-curlingly expensive.

TELEGRAPH RATING Four stars out of five

The rivals

Ford Mustang Mach-E, from £40,350

Controversial name aside, this is a nicely judged battery electric family SUV from the blue oval. Your 40 grand gets you two-wheel drive and a 273-mile range. A full five-seater with luggage space and a classy facia. It’s billed as the driver’s choice and is certainly more dynamic than most, although the ride can be harsh.

Polestar 2, from £49,900

Arguably from a class above, but with a 292-mile range from its 78kWh lithium-ion battery, along with genuinely different looks and 127mph, and 0-62mph in 4.7sec, from its 408bhp/487lb ft 4x4 drivetrain means there’s a lot to like from this Geely-owned new EV brand. Well worth looking at

Citroen ë-C4. from £32,180 (without £2,500 PIVG)

The ë-C4’s measly 217-mile range is because it is based on the 50kWh lithium-ion cell in the EMP II EV platform, which also does service on the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e. This good-looking crossover is nevertheless spritely, with a 93mph top speed and 0-62mph in 9sec. Good to drive, too.

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