Skoda’s electric Enyaq RS is a lounge lizard in running shoes

SUV remains stubbornly sensible despite coupe-like body and more power

Skoda Enyaq
    
Year: 2022
Fuel: Electric

Blame BMW, I guess. And then, sequentially, blame Porsche. It was BMW who, with the original X5 back in 1999, realised that you could actually combine a bulky SUV body with handling and performance that were sufficiently adjacent to sporty to pass as such. The performance SUV was born, and four years later Porsche took that recipe and, in the original and subsequent Cayenne, made it a cash cow. Not only could you create a sporting SUV, you could charge more for it and people would all but literally queue around the block to buy one. BMW then hit back by taking the recipe, chopping the roofline and creating the dreadful, but successful, X6 SUV-coupe.

Now, everyone’s at it. Logically, it’s ludicrous – trying to tame the mass and bulk and high centre of gravity of an SUV to create a truly sporty driving experience requires engineering compromises that are little short of ridiculous. Not to mention such cars almost inevitably give in to drastic weight gain in order to achieve their conflicting goals. It would be so much better if sports cars could just be sports cars, but in a world where a high-performance SUV with a coupe-like roofline is essentially a licence to print money, little wonder that all car makers want a piece of the game.

Lime green paint

So, here comes sensible Skoda – purveyor of finely-honed family-friendly motors and a car maker with common sense built into every rivet of its products – to deliver its least sensible car ever. It’s an electric Enyaq SUV but with more power, less roof and lime green paint. Meet the Enyaq RS Coupe.

There is a ‘regular’ Enyaq Coupe too, using the same 204hp rear-drive electric motor, and 77kWh battery, as the standard, taller Enyaq SUV but even though it’s a rather handsome thing, it ends up looking like a shrinking violet compared with the lizard-hued RS model parked alongside it. Aside from the ‘Hyper Green’ paint job (perfect if you get invited to appear in the St Patrick’s Day parade, but probably something of a liability at other times – other colours are thankfully available) there are glossy-black coverings for badges and door mirrors, and a striking set of aerodynamically-optimised 21-inch wheels. In as much as any Skoda can look ‘gangsta’, this one does. Even the grille lights up at night, which is surely the motorised equivalent of sticking Swarovski crystals to your face.


Inside, thankfully, Skoda has recognised that the regular Enyaq's interior didn't need much of an upgrade, so the RS really just adds some nice fake-suede panels on the dash, a contrast-stitched leather wrap for the steering wheel and some deliciously comfortable high-backed bucket front seats. The rest is the same, and that's good – I reckon the Enyaq's cabin is nicer than that of the equivalent Audi or VW. What has been – usefully – added is new software, which can now receive over-the-air updates, and which has tidied up the oft-confusing menu layout of the big 13-inch touschscreen, while making the entire system look and feel much more slick.

There are new safety tricks too, including emergency steering that can help pull you away from danger, an upgraded lane-keeping system and an automated parking system that can memorise regular manoeuvres, such as backing onto your driveway, and carry them out at the push of a button.

In the back, space is surprisingly good. Skoda – sensible as ever – just couldn’t seem to let itself become impractical, so in spite of the chop in the roofline, the rear headroom is about the same as in the taller SUV model. That’s thanks in part to the fact that the vast glass roof does without a sunshade, and instead works like a set of ‘Reactions’ glasses when the sun is shining. The boot’s still big, too – 570 litres up to the luggage cover, which is only 15 litres less than the bigger SUV Enyaq, although do you sacrifice 100 litres if you fold the back seats and load up to the roof. That will likely only trouble antique dealers with wardrobes to shift.

Mixed performance

What about performance, though? Surely any RS model lives and dies on its performance? Well, here the story is a touch more mixed. The Enyaq RS shares its two-motor, four-wheel drive system with the VW ID.4 GTX and the Audi Q4 E-Tron quattro, so it has the same 299hp and 460Nm of torque. It’s a whisker slower to 100km/h than the VW, taking 6.5 seconds, but it suffers from the same weight-affected performance as the Volkswagen.

That low-down thump of torque that propels you forward is soon overwhelmed by the car's bulk, and so it feels slower the faster you go. A Tesla Model Y leaves it for dead in a straight line. It has a top speed 20km higher than that of the standard model, but good luck explaining that in through the little window at your local Garda station.

Still, it would be churlish to complain about a car that actually covers ground pretty swiftly, and does so in exceptional refinement and comfort. The lower, stiffer suspension of the Coupe model means there’s a bit more ruck and rumble than you get in a standard Enyaq, but it’s just about acceptable. The problem is that it’s the refinement and comfort that dominate, when surely in an RS it should be the fun factor.

Stick it in Sport mode and there’s notably more agility and responsiveness than you’ll find in the regular Enyaq, or even the regular Enyaq Coupe. But it’s not enough, it’s only a little more and so it makes a bit of a mockery of the RS badge. The Enyaq RS Coupe is actually rather lovely to drive – it’s quick enough, it handles well enough, and it’s smooth and relaxing on a long journey – but the same could be said of the rear-drive, 204hp version and that’s both cheaper and longer-ranged.

The RS Coupe, thanks in part to being much more aerodynamic than the standard SUV-shaped Enyaq, can manage a claimed 500km between charges, a claim which feels believable. The problem is that the regular Enyaq Coupe – which looks to all intents and purposes just as good, and just as desirable – can manage 540km, some 15km more than a standard SUV Enyaq, from the same 77kWh battery. That extra 40km can make a serious difference to your day. Not to mention the likely savings on list price. Both versions can charge a little more quickly than before – at speeds of up to 135kW from a DC charging point, and existing Enyaq owners will be able to get the same software in dealer-based update later this year.

Here’s the thing – the Enyaq RS Coupe is lovely. Yes, the whole idea of a high-performance SUV with a coupe-like body is inherently stupid, but it’s a charming car that inexorably grows on you as you drive it. The problem is, it’s not an RS in anything but name, and the standard car is so good that it’s probably the one you should buy. Skoda hasn’t announced Irish prices yet, but the RS will probably be a little more expensive than the equivalent ID.4 GTX, while the standard Coupe should be much better value. Maybe Skoda should have called it the Enyaq Monte Carlo? That might have set our expectations at the right level. . .

Lowdown: Skoda Enyaq RS Coupe

Power: 77kWh battery powering a two-motor system with 299hp and 460Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive.

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

Electric consumption: 17.2-18.1kWh/100km

Range: 500km (WLTP).

0-100km/h 6.5sec.

Price: TBA

Our rating 3/5.

Verdict: Lovely car with the wrong badge.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

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