Czech entry into the fast-growing electric family car class aims for a familiar feel

This week’s road test subject, the Skoda Enyaq iV, brings to mind a recent development in the product line of world-famous toy maker Lego.

For a few years now, the Danish firm has been offering sets of building blocks that can be made into as many as three different menu-built models, as well as whatever else your imagination might inspire. You can make your blocky supercar and then disassemble it and turn it into a truck or a boat, before departing from your instruction booklet completely.

EVs don’t need a grille, yet most car makers are sticking a fake one on anyway to uphold brand identity. For £1675, the Light and View Plus package will even make it light up.

And it just so happens that today’s automotive engineers may feel, to a greater or lesser degree, like they are 10 years old again, making cars in a similar way: using platform-engineered common component sets and trying to create from them cars that – to the end customer, at least – need to feel like special and distinct products. The approach isn’t new, of course, but it does seem truer than ever right now, as we enter the era of the mass-produced, big-volume, affordable electric car.

Other manufacturers are following suit, but the Volkswagen Group is perhaps the most prominent user of such a widely shared electric car platform. Think the Lego analogy is dismissive of the VW Group’s work? MEB stands for Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten – and Baukasten translates from German as ‘child’s building set’. Fortunately they seem to be taking the actual engineering a bit more seriously than do the kids.

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Shared platforms for internal-combustion-engined cars have been around for a while now, but with no brand-exclusive engine and gearbox to make up the difference, it’s now even more of a challenge than before to make a distinctive electric car out of that same playset. We’ve already seen what Audi and Volkswagen have come up with, in the form of the Q4 E-tron and ID 4 respectively, the former of which we tested a few weeks ago. Now it’s the turn of Skoda’s entry, with the Enyaq iV.

Skoda is supposed to be the more value-conscious brand of the three, but recently it has been challenging the age-old VW Group hierarchy. Only 10 years ago it was generally obvious that Skodas were the cheaper, often extra-practical alternatives to Volkswagens; today’s Skodas occasionally eclipse their German cousins with a high-quality but pleasingly no-nonsense approach. This week we’ll find out whether the Enyaq continues that into the pure-electric era.

The Enyaq iV line-up at a glance

Skoda offers a choice of two battery sizes in the UK: the 58kWh 60 model and the 77kWh 80. An even smaller 50 exists but isn’t available over here at the moment. With Sportline models, you can add a front motor for extra power and all-wheel drive. In lieu of trim levels, Skoda offers interior design themes (Loft, Lodge, Lounge, Suite and EcoSuite) and a selection of other option packages. Details of the range-topping vRS with 302bhp and all-wheel drive are to be announced soon.


2 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT hero side

It’s a compliment to Skoda’s design team that it has handled the Volkswagen Group’s EV component set so well and come up with what might be the best-looking car of all its close relations. Needless to say, engineering-wise the Enyaq is extremely similar to its MEB platform mates, the ID 4 and Q4 E-tron.

It offers the same choice in under-floor battery packs. Here we’ve got the Enyaq 80 version, with 82kWh of total capacity, of which 77kWh is usable. A 62kWh (58kWh usable) version comes in the Enyaq 60, which offers a 250-mile WLTP claimed range instead of the 80’s 333-mile claim. It’s also slightly less powerful, with just 177bhp.

Due to the shared architecture, the Enyaq’s proportions are very similar to its VW Group family members’. A longer rear overhang aids practicality.

As in the related VW and Audi, the Enyaq’s main electric drive motor is carried at the back, but you can have an additional front motor – and four-wheel drive – in the 262bhp Sportline 80X or the upcoming 302bhp vRS performance model. Suspension is via a mix of front struts and rear multiple links, along with fixed- height steel coils, with wheel sizes ranging from 19 to 21in in diameter.

Skoda has found a bit more differentiation in the design of the Enyaq despite remarkably similar proportions to its siblings. The car has the same short, flat bonnet and chunky, slightly bus-like cab as we’ve seen elsewhere. It’s also bigger than the Audi, being marginally wider and 61mm longer. The wheelbase is the same, but the Skoda has a much longer rear overhang, continuing the established brand theme of offering the most practical option among VW Group model relations.

Also typically of Skoda, the Enyaq’s design details are more restrained, with fewer fake air intakes or prof ligate design flourishes in evidence on the exterior. The notable exception is the ‘crystal face grille’, a light-up front radiator aperture that is (thankfully) optional. Despite the absence of particularly extravagant styling, however, the Enyaq succeeds in making an impression and seems to invite passers-by to take an interest, which will do it absolutely no harm through the early phases of its showroom life.

Unlike the ID 4 or the Q4 E-tron, though, the Enyaq iV is not built at Volkswagen’s main EV factory in Zwickau but alongside other Skodas in Mladá Boleslav, making Skoda’s the only plant in the Volkswagen Group that is building both ICE and electric cars on the same production line.

10 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT front seats

The cab-forward proportions and long rear overhang pay dividends for the packaging of the Enyaq’s interior, resulting in a spacious-feeling cabin. While that impression was aided by our test car’s light grey upholstery, there can be no doubt that this is the most practical of all these first-generation, MEB-platform EVs.

How much of the space you can actually use does depend a little on which options you tick. There is ample room on the back seat, even in the middle, thanks to the absence of a centre tunnel. On the other hand, the optional and slightly flimsy tray tables steal a little leg room from taller adults, who won’t be able to stretch out in the back like they might in a Hyundai Ioniq 5. The 585-litre boot is fairly large for an EV with a drive motor underneath the floor, but Skoda makes you pay extra for a movable boot floor. Our car didn’t have it, so the load floor wasn’t totally flat when the rear seats were folded.

Trays for phones are angled away from the driver to minimise distraction. Wireless charging isn’t a standard feature.

Enyaqs have a cubby beneath the boot floor to store the charge cable, but it’s not quite big enough to fit all the cables. Some EVs have storage under the bonnet for the same job, but while there is space for one in the Enyaq, Skoda hasn’t used it. Remembering to remove the charge cable from its home before filling the boot with cargo, then, will be a frequent challenge for Enyaq owners.

The cabin materials are a little plain in places, with some coarser plastics at lower levels and anodised-look trim strips up high that clearly feel like plastic. At least they resist fingerprints well, though, while generous use of a kind of synthetic fur-like textile makes for an inviting, lounge-like environment.

The front cabin is cleverly thought out – ‘simply clever’, Skoda might say. There are coinholders, a storage slot for car park tickets and a clip in the windscreen for parking tickets. There are two phone trays in the centre console that are angled away from the driver to avoid distraction and that will wirelessly charge your device if so optioned.

Despite technically having a flat floor, the car has a big centre console between the front occupants, but it has all sorts of big bins and trays all the way down to the floor for storage.

Skoda Enyaq iV infotainment and sat-nav

Although Skoda uses the same fundamental infotainment system as other Volkswagen Group brands, they all give it their own finishing touch – and Skoda’s execution is usually smoother and a bit easier to use. Such is the case here in the Enyaq. Precious few physical buttons grace the dashboard, but as the screen is massive, at 13.0in, that’s not an issue, and most important settings are relatively easy to find – although if you do struggle to work it out, don’t expect the voice activation to be of any help.

We got used to most of the system’s quirks over our week with the car, but there always remained certain baffling design features. The touch-sensitive slider for the volume is absurd, the screen displayed a ‘qi’ icon to indicate a phone is wirelessly charging even though our test didn’t even have wireless charging and, in a textbook case of form over function, you browse through settings by rotating a picture of the car.

26 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT motor

This Enyaq’s 201bhp might sound like a healthy output for a family car with no particular sporting intentions, but a two-tonne kerb weight dulls performance enough to make it feel a little ordinary under a full-throttle launch. It hits 60mph in 8.3sec, though, which is respectable. As with most EVs, top speed is electronically capped, here to 100mph.

In everyday motoring, the Enyaq often feels quicker than its 0-60mph time suggests. With little noise, no gears to shift and a subtle and fast-acting traction control system, the car feels plentifully swift in roll-on acceleration from town speeds. If you make full use of its torque out of junctions, the motor will chirp those 255-section rear tyres, detracting a little from the car’s effortless, assured temperament – if only for an instant.

The ‘engine start’ button is largely redundant as the car senses someone in the driver’s seat and will move off when put in D. Annoyingly, leaning over to get something from the passenger footwell can turn the car off (not once moving, of course).

The Enyaq is far from the only mid-sized EV on the market, of course, so if it’s acceleration you want, there are plenty of options that will deliver more of it. Like-for-like versions of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3 are both considerably quicker, as is a Kia e-Niro. But while the Skoda clearly isn’t a car that’s seeking to attract keener drivers, it certainly doesn’t feel slow.

Battery regeneration can be controlled using the paddles behind the steering wheel, although the Enyaq is a bit of a control freak in this respect. There are three levels of regen to choose from, but touch the accelerator and it will switch back to its automatic mode.

If you want the strongest regen mode all the time, you can shift into ‘B’ on the gear selector, but for anything in between, you have to juggle the setting continually using the shift paddles. In fairness, the adaptive mode does a good job, but the excessive interference is frustrating.

27 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT cornering front

There are four distinct suspension set-ups available for the Enyaq. Our test car had the standard passively damped suspension, but all Enyaqs can be upgraded with adaptive dampers as part of the Drive Sport Package Plus, which adds progressive steering and a three-spoke steering wheel. Sportline models get a passive, firmed-up sport suspension tune as standard but can be fitted with adaptive dampers as an option.

The handling reflects the Enyaq’s assured performance, adopting a healthy middle ground in everything. The ride is a little firm: fit 20in alloys to your car and you’ll feel most imperfections in the road surface, but never harshly. Body movements are deftly controlled, and the steering has a nice consistent weight. And, thanks to the battery in the floor giving a low centre of gravity, the steering’s consistent rate of response inspires confidence. This is a heavy car with little steering feel to speak of, but it’s a viceless set-up.

I thought Skoda might come up with a reeled-up, tethered charging cable as one of its ‘simply clever’ life hacks, but no. Rapid chargers have their own tethered cables so you couldn’t do without a proper charging port, but even so, this feels like a problem for Mladá Boleslav’s greatest minds to solve.

Via the touchscreen you can cycle through the drive modes, or use a driver-customisable Individual mode if you prefer. However, on a car with passive suspension, the differences between settings aren’t at all pronounced. When pressing on, you can feel that Sport mode turns down the intervention of the traction control, but you’ll never feel the car begin to slide from the rear axle. Even under provocation on the test track, the Enyaq exhibits nothing but mild, stabilising understeer.

That the Enyaq has rear-wheel drive was done not for driver engagement but for packaging reasons, of course. What results is a remarkably tight turning circle for such a large vehicle, at just 9.3m. Indeed, while navigating tight streets, the Skoda feels smaller than you would expect it to, and really manoeuvrable. It’s still a hefty car, though, with proportions that make its edges hard to see and substantial pillars that render visibility quite poor in some directions.

It’s a good thing, then, that parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard equipment – although if you choose the less powerful Enyaq 60, you’ll need to pay extra for them.

Assisted driving notes

On the face of it, the Enyaq has all the assisted driving features you might expect from such a car (so long as you cough up for the Assisted Drive Package) but they can be frustrating to use on occasion on account of the false activations. The lane keeping can sometimes be too keen, while at other times you can catch it dozing. We also had a few unnecessary collision warnings, although thankfully without activation of the autonomous braking.

Most frustrating was the adaptive cruise control. It can be reluctant to speed up after you’ve pulled out of your lane to overtake on the motorway because it gets confused by vehicles in the adjacent lane. It will also recognise changing speed limits but then it changes the speed itself rather than waiting for confirmation from the driver.

Even when the system is working correctly, it can be a little unsettling when the car decides to lay into the brakes, but occasionally it recognises the wrong speed limit.

Comfort and isolation

The Enyaq slips neatly into its role as sensible family transport, with good rolling refinement and insulation. Road and wind noise are well suppressed, despite the wide tyres and tall body, with decibel levels lower than those of the Mustang Mach-E but on average 1dBA noisier than the Q4 E-tron or Jaguar I-Pace.

The seats in our test car offer the usual adjustments, including lumbar support, although side bolstering is limited. You’re kept comfortable on long journeys, though, with adequate leg support. One criticism from our testers was the need to bump up the lumbar support so as not to feel hunched at the wheel. For some Enyaq owners on long journeys, mild backache might be the first complaint, but it’s a minor issue.

1 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT hero front

Our test car had the bigger of the two available battery options and an official electric range of 333 miles. That doesn’t set any new benchmarks when compared with pricier versions of the Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range and Tesla Model 3, but it’s competitive for an electric family car that is on sale for £40,000.

We averaged about 3.4mpkWh during our time with the Enyaq, a figure that translates to a real-world range of just over 260 miles. That’s a fair bit below the claimed range but not unusually so for an EV. With 125kW rapid charging capability fitted, the Enyaq can be topped up from flat to an 80% charge in 38 minutes, making longer distances not too much of a pain.

CAP expects the Enyaq's residuals to be evenly matched with volume-brand rivals and a match for most ICE cars.

It’s regrettable, however, that the 125kW charging capability is a £440 option, and then only on the version with the bigger battery. As standard, rapid charging capability tops out at 50kW, which is slightly disappointing. It’s worth taking care when speccing an Enyaq because its list price makes it look like a bit of a bargain in the electric family SUV space – although quite a few pieces of essential equipment are hidden in one of the many options packages.

Lumbar support, heated seats, the movable boot floor, keyless entry and blindspot detection are the most notable absences on the standard equipment list. Because most are part of packages, rather than available as single options, the car’s on-the-road price can quickly escalate. The Skoda is still a good deal but not quite the steal it might seem at first.


29 Skoda Enyaq IV 2021 RT static

In the still relatively new market for affordable EVs, we’ve seen manufacturers try to score headlines with outrageous power outputs, longer ranges and lower prices. The Skoda Enyaq, by contrast, aims for a sensible, middle-ground compromise. It doesn’t pioneer any new technology, and it’s built on a model architecture that has already had some kinks ironed out by Volkswagen and Audi.

This, however, might well be the sweet spot for the family EV market. It impresses with a roomy and cleverly thought-out cabin that is a match for the Audi’s on tangible quality; with a rounded and mature chassis set-up; with performance that should satisfy most drivers; and with an attractive base price. Only a handful of awkward design decisions, some slightly annoying active safety features and drivability quirks and a slightly mean standard equipment tally keep it from a higher score.

Quite a few essentials are optional as part of a pack, so study the standard kit carefully. Watch with the interior ‘designs’: some are quite pricey.

The cost of the technology is likely to make EVs of all shapes and sizes seem pricey compared with combustion-engined options for years yet. But it hasn’t stopped Skoda from hitting on a family car that seems to offer more for less – and that’s quite a tonic.


Skoda Enyaq iV First drives