Look beyond the unusual name and you'll find that the Skoda Enyaq could be a big draw for buyers seeking an electric SUV of sorts. The Czech company's new flagship EV will go on sale in Ireland 2021, in a variety of different versions including a sporty RS model in time. A choice of three battery sizes and the option of all-wheel drive will broaden its appeal. Ahead of all that, we got the chance to try out a pre-production prototype of the Enyaq on Irish roads.
In the Metal:
The design of the Skoda Enyaq isn't easy to make it out with the dazzling green camouflage, but having seen an undisguised finished version, we reckon it'll appeal to buyers. The silhouette is similar to that of the forthcoming Volkswagen ID.4, although the Skoda does have some unique and interesting features. At 4.6 metres long it's a decent size, filling the gap between the Skoda Karoq and Kodiaq.
Even though the Enyaq will be classed as an SUV by most, there isn't a great deal of ground clearance because of the massive battery pack within the floor, so don't expect to go very far off-road in it. Combine that aspect with a roofline that only slopes gently, to accommodate a 585-litre boot, and the Enyaq appears to be something of a blend between SUV and MPV - though you'll only find two rows of seats here. Depending on model specification, the electric Skoda will ride on alloy wheels ranging between 18- and 21 inches in diameter.
The Enyaq's wheelbase is the same as that of the Skoda Kodiaq and, with no transmission tunnel encroaching into the cabin's foot room the rear passengers, the new car will be able to continue Skoda's reputation for generous space. The big boot should prove sufficient for most people, though we're surprised that, unlike some other electric SUVs, there isn't a storage area under the bonnet. It will be possible to specify the Enyaq with a tow bar, though.
As with the exterior, much of the Enyaq's interior was covered up when we drove it out on public roads and photography of the cabin was not permitted. However, we can tell you that a small digital display sits in front of the driver ahead of a two-spoke steering wheel. These days we're increasingly accustomed to seeing the roll out of 10.25-inch or larger displays for the instrument cluster. Instead, the Enyaq will get a more comprehensive augmented head-up display that projects onto the windscreen, as in the Volkswagen ID.3. A centrally mounted freestanding touchscreen sits atop the dashboard, and this will come in two sizes, 10- or 13-inch, depending on model.
Skoda is aiming for the Enyaq to be every bit as practical as its other cars, so it will have 48 litres of storage space throughout the interior, including deep door bins and a generous amount of console storage between the front seats. Umbrellas in the doors and a large wireless charging pad that can charge two phones simultaneously are just some of the nifty things to look out for when the Enyaq arrives.
Although our time behind the wheel of the Skoda Enyaq was limited and only in the 82kWh version, it did give us a good idea of what to expect when the finished car makes its debut. We drove development cars that were at a relatively advanced stage, other than missing some of the more finely calibrated energy recuperation. One of the novel features of the Enyaq's use of the MEB platform is that it has rear-wheel drive and you can detect it giving the car a more direct shove when pulling away quickly or accelerating out of corners.
This Enyaq 80, as it will be called, gets a single electric motor that has an output of 201hp. Even with four adults on board, the Enyaq had plenty of performance to offer with the typical instantaneous pick-up that is associated with electric motors. Toggling through the different drive settings brings about the expected changes, such as making the steering heavier and sharpening the throttle response in Sport mode, and dulling the latter in the Eco setting.
What stood out from our time in the Skoda Enyaq was the smoothness of the ride over secondary road surfaces. It impressively soaked up larger bumps and the damping effect was equally polished, despite the lack of air suspension. How much that will differ in cars fitted with the largest 21-inch wheels remains to be seen, but running on 19-inch rims (also wearing winter tyres), it left a positive impression.
Equally apparent is the car's low centre of gravity, helped by the battery residing beneath the floor. As you turn into a bend there isn't a very noticeable degree of body lean, and the front end sticks rigidly to the line you choose, indicating a good balance of weight distribution. The weight of the battery pack is always lurking and, while it may be low down, it's still present. The all-wheel-drive Enyaq 80x adds a motor to the front axle and, while overall power output will increase to 261hp, the additional weight over the front may dull the handling.
What you get for your Money:
Although no exact pricing was discussed during out time driving the Enyaq, Skoda representatives were keen to highlight that it won't be a hugely expensive car, at least not in the smaller-sized battery forms. The suggestion is that the Enyaq 50 could cost less than €40,000 in Germany. How that will translate to Irish pricing remains to be seen, but we expect the likes of the 80x variant to be expensive.
Skoda plans to offer a wide variety of specification grades, starting with Studio, which will be available in the Enyaq 50 alone. Additional Loft, Lodge, Suite and Eco Suite trim levels will be available on the 60 and 80 models, and Eco Suite features more sustainably sourced materials. The 60 and 80 versions will gain the larger 13-inch touchscreen display. Only the 82kWh Enyaq 80 will get the fastest DC charging rate of 125kW, enough to recharge the battery to 80 per cent capacity in 40 minutes from empty. The onboard 11kW charging unit will enable users with a suitable domestic wallbox to replenish the battery charge in six to nine hours.
Initial signs indicate that the Skoda Enyaq will be an accomplished all-rounder when it goes on sale, particularly impressing with its comfort. If Skoda can deliver on the promise of the prototype, it will be at the leading edge of a wave of new electric vehicles that deliver much more for less.