The new Enyaq is not quite Skoda's first electric car. That honour actually goes to the battery-powered version of the small Citigo hatchback, which went on sale in Europe, but sadly not Ireland, last year (there were other, shorter-lived battery models throughout Skoda's now 125-year history). The Enyaq, though, will go on sale here, starting in April 2021. Skoda Ireland expects that it will be given 270 Enyaqs to sell next year as production gears up, and pretty much all of those are already booked.
The Czech brand has often claimed, through its advertising campaigns, to be ‘Made For Ireland’ but in this case it’s pretty much the literal truth - Skoda has been using Irish roads and conditions to test the Enyaq’s chassis for final sign off, which allowed The Irish Times to have a sneak preview of what it’s like to drive.
That car was covered in a camouflage wrap that made it look rather bland an amorphous. Well, the camouflage clearly worked, as the final production form of the Enyaq looks anything but. In fact, arguably, it's rather more chiselled and handsome than the VW ID.4, with a big, upright grille (can't call it a radiator grille anymore, one supposes) and aggressive, swept-back headlights. In proportions, it's not quite full-on SUV, but actually a little lower and sleeker, almost a halfway house between an SUV and an estate. In size terms, it's actually slightly shorter overall than the Octavia, but offers more interior space than the Kodiaq SUV.
This being a Skoda, you can bet it will be practical - there’s a 585-litre boot, and a vast storage box integrated into the minimalist dashboard. The central touchscreen measures a vast 13-inches (one hopes that its software will be less glitchy than we’ve noticed in recent VW Group products, glitches that apparently almost upset the ID.3’s launch) and the cabin is apparently full of recycled and sustainable materials.
Skoda also says that it will do away with its traditional Active-Ambition-Style-Sportline trim structure, and instead offer essentially a single trim with bolt-on options packs that vary from electronic driver aids to infotainment options, to climate packs. There will also be some individual options, such as a high-end ‘Canton’ sound system and a range-saving heat-pump heating system.
Basic 55kWh models (badged Enyaq 50) will come with a 340km range, 18-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone climate, keyless ignition, cruise control, a ten-inch infotainment screen, and Bluetooth phone connection.
The Enyaq 60, witha 62kWh battery, will come with a range of 390km, 19-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, black roof rails, and the big 13-inch touchscreen.
Skoda Ireland reckons that its biggest seller will actually be that with the largest 82kWh pack (although, initially that will be down to availability as much as appeal), the Enyaq 80. For that, Skoda currently claims a one-charge range of 500km. Rumour has it, though, that the Enyaq will actually go quite a bit further on one charge, maybe 550km, but Skoda is staying mum until the official homologation figures are out.
There will also be a sporty RS model, using the largest battery, a 300hp powertrain, and with a 6.2sec 0-100km/h time.
Speaking of figures, the Enyaq will be rather more affordable than first thought. Skoda hasn’t given anything like an official price yet, but early indications are that the version with the 58kWh battery pack will clock in at under €40,000 - possibly well under. That could seriously put an electric cat amongst the SUV pigeons, and could even upset, to an extent, Volkswagen’s own ID.3, let alone the ID.4.
Skoda Ireland brand director, John Donegan, said: "Despite the economic and industry challenges, we are confident of achieving our long-stated aim of achieving fourth position in the Irish market for 2020. With the arrival of the new Octavia this September we are determined to maintain this position in 2021. By the end of 2022, Skoda will have more than ten electric or partially electric iV models in our range. This portfolio of new models, together with our strong dealer network and partnership with Volkswagen Financial Services puts the Skoda brand in an ideal position to challenge for the number two position in the Irish car market."
The Enyaq is also giving Skoda a bullish position on the shattered car market. The company's newly-installed chief executive, Thomas Schafer, said at the car's unveiling that: "We are one of the few car makers in Europe to have achieved a positive operating profit in the first half of the year. Our current sales figures show us that the year is by no means lost. We are now putting our foot down to get the most out of it."
While the electric car market is expanding fast in Ireland, both in terms of numbers of cars available and the number of people interested in them, this first sight of the Enyaq seems to come at an especially significant time.
VW ID.3 arrives
Earlier this week, a large cargo ship, the Paglia, docked in Dublin Port and began to disgorge the first examples of Volkswagen's ID.3 electric car to arrive in Ireland. Volkswagen Ireland brand director Rodolfo Calixto was present to witness the car's arrival. "This marks a new era for the Volkswagen brand globally, but now the ID.3 is here in Ireland and it was very special to witness these cars arriving into Dublin."
These first cars will fan out to dealerships and to those who got their online bookings and deposits down early. Initially the ID.3 will be on sale as a ‘First’ model, priced from €33,625 (inclusive of grants and VRT rebate) and with a 58kWh battery providing a claimed one-charge range of 420km. Basic equipment will include 18-inch alloy wheels, a large ‘Discovery’ multimedia touchscreen, a leather steering wheel, heated seats, adaptive cruise control with traffic stop-and-go, two-zone climate control, and LED headlights.
The cars arriving this year are pretty much already all spoken for, but in 2021 further variants will go on sale - a more affordable, shorter-ranged one with a smaller battery, and a pricier version with a Tesla-baiting 77kWh battery and more than 550km range - as will the ID.4 SUV, which was revealed (after much teasing and non-reveal-reveals) last week.
The ID.4 will add four-wheel drive as an option, and of course comes with an arguably more desirable SUV body atop the same MEB electric platform as used by the ID.3. Both cars are likely to have their hands rather full of the Enyaq.