I probably needed snow and ice. Well, maybe at least some ice. Okay, maybe just rain. Lots of rain. Some rain at any rate. Some drizzle at least? Mizzle? A few puddles?
You see, four-wheel drive was and remains one of the great motoring innovations. Don’t believe me? Just rewind your mind to the world rally championship days of the early 1980s. Or, better yet, go and check out the excellent documentary on the life and fast times of Michele Mouton on Sky Documentaries.
Mouton was one of the fastest rally drivers of them all. I once got to see her up close at the Goodwood Festival of Speed driving an Audi Sport Quattro, and I swear I’ve never before nor since seen a car moving with that level of speed and aggression — and she was faster still than most in the four-wheel-drive Audi Quattro. Putting power down to all four corners of the car was an Audi masterstroke, and it left rear-wheel drive rivals from Ford, Opel, and Lancia often floundering in the marque’s wake.
Except when the roads were made of tarmac, and were dry. Then, the lighter two-wheel-drive cars could make up the gap to the howling Quattros. It’s that light-and-dry equation that I fear might be undermining the case for the Skoda Enyaq iV 80x Sportline.
I’m not going to make a case that this Enyaq is distantly related to the original Audi Quattro (although there’s something about those alloy wheels), but there are definitely echoes of how the Quattro could be undone by decent weather and unmoisturised tarmac.
The 80x bit of the name means that this Enyaq uses the same 77kWh (80kWh gross) battery as the regular model, but it gets an extra electric motor, nestled in the nose, providing power to the front wheels. If you want to describe it as an Enyaq Quattro, well it wouldn’t be a million miles wide of the mark. You can buy an 80x in regular form for €51,286 or you can splash out and get this Sportline version for €55,720.
I’m not normally one to advise you to splash out, but in this case I reckon it might actually be worth it. Over and above the standard model, this Sportline Enyaq gets 20in dark-finished alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights, privacy glass, upgraded steering, and gorgeous high-backed bucket front seats which are — not a word of a lie — some of the most comfortable places I’ve ever parked my buttocks.
Our test car also came with the light-up grille at the front, which I can’t quite figure out. It’s either appallingly tacky (like putting Swarovski crystals on your face) or kinda cool and different. I’m leaning to the cool and different end of things, but that may change again in the morning.
The 80x doesn’t have the full-fat 299hp of its four-wheel drive cousin, the Volkswagen ID.4 GTX but it does have a bit more power and torque. A standard, single-motor, rear-wheel drive Enyaq 80 deploys 204hp and 310Nm of torque. This 80x has 265hp and 425hp. Even in a car weighing 2,100kg that’s pretty decent.
Or is it? Flatten your foot in the Enyaq 80x and it does jump forward, hitting 100km/h from rest in 6.9secs compared to the 8.7secs taken by the standard version, but it never feels all that much quicker. If you’ve paid a lot for your extra motor and its extra power — and you have, as the cheapest Enyaq 80 costs €47,849 — then you might be forgiven for wanting a bit more performance return on your investment. I’d not describe the Enyaq 80x as slow, but it’s definitely languid, maybe even a little lazy. By comparison, if you mash the throttle pedal in a four-wheel drive Ford Mustang Mach-E, it’s like being hit in the small of your back by a determined sledgehammer, not to mention the addictive rapidity of the four-wheel drive Tesla Model Y, albeit both of these cars are significantly pricier than the Skoda.
Of course, four-wheel drive doesn’t have to be about performance per se. When Audi started channelling the power and growly grunt of its five-cylinder turbo engine to all four wheels, it wasn’t strictly about performance, it was about efficiency — how to get that power transmitted to the ground and converted into forward motion as efficiently as possible. Where that showed up best was on loose surfaces, such as gravel, or on wet, slippery roads where the Quattro could put its power down efficiently when others could not.
The Enyaq 80x can do just that, I’m sure. At least I hope. I mean, I presume? It’s the summer, in case you hadn’t noticed, and the slipperiest thing the Enyaq 80x went near during its time with me was my palms once I’d finished applying some factor 50 (bottled balaclava for my pasty-white skin). So, being entirely fair to it, I wasn’t able to give it the opportunity to show off what it’s capable of when the weather turns nasty. I’ve always thought of four-wheel drive as a worthwhile options box to tick, given normal Irish weather, but in the case of the Enyaq I’m not so sure.
In dry, clear weather such as this, the 80x’s extra motor and extra traction was essentially pointless, and I was lugging around all that extra weight to no good purpose. That extra weight has an impact on range, too. A standard Enyaq 80 claims a one-charge range of 534km (or 525km for a Sportline 80), whereas this 80x claims 488km, and we were getting 435km in real-world conditions. That’s enough range for most driving to be undertaken comfortably, but the standard model just gives you more breathing room. I’ve driven a standard rear-wheel drive Enyaq 80 in lousy weather and can confirm that it’s perfectly capable, albeit steep, icy slopes might give it a few things to think about.
The Enyaq remains a hugely likeable car. It’s outrageously comfy and refined (making both the Mustang and the Tesla feel and sound pretty rough-edged by comparison) and has a fantastic interior — full of high-quality surfaces and useful storage areas that frankly makes the interior of the closely related Audi Q4 e-tron feel a bit disappointing in the comparison. I love the chunky-running-shoe look of the Sportline, and the gorgeous Race Blue Metallic paint finish of our test car.
The extra motor, though? The four-wheel drive, though? I’m less sure. I think I’d rather have the extra range instead. Maybe ask me again, come winter.
Lowdown: Skoda Enyaq 80x Sportline
Power: 77kWh (net) battery driving two electric motors developing a combined 265hp and 425Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual motor tax) 0g/km (€120).
Electric consumption: 17.7kWh/100km.
Price: €55,720 as tested, Enyaq starts from €39,493.
Our rating: 2/5 (weather-dependent rating).
Verdict: Love the looks, cabin, and comfort. Not so sure it needs 4WD.