Skoda’s electric Enyaq RS is a living room lizard in running shoes
Blame BMW, I guess. And then, sequentially, blame Porsche. It was BMW that, with the original X5 in 1999, realized that you could actually combine bulky SUV bodywork with handling and performance close enough to sporty to pass for such. The performance SUV was born, and four years later Porsche took that recipe and, in the original and subsequent Cayenne, turned it into a cash cow. Not only could you create a sporty SUV, but you could charge more for it and people would literally line up around the block to buy one. BMW then retaliated by taking the recipe, cutting off the roofline and creating the terrible, but successful, X6 SUV coupe.
Now everyone is on it. Logically, that’s ridiculous – trying to tame an SUV’s mass and volume and high center of gravity to create a truly sporty driving experience requires engineering compromises that are almost ridiculous. Not to mention that these 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 license to print money, it’s not amazing that all car manufacturers want a piece of the Game.
Lime green paint
So here comes the sane Skoda – purveyor of finely honed family engines and automaker with common sense built into every rivet of its products – to deliver its most unsound car ever. It’s an Enyaq electric SUV but with more power, less roof and lime green paint. Discover the Enyaq RS coupé.
There’s also a ‘regular’ Enyaq coupe, using the same 204hp rear-wheel-drive electric motor and 77kWh battery, as the standard and larger Enyaq SUV, but while that’s a pretty good looking thing, it ends up looking like a shrinking purple compared to the lizard-colored RS model parked next to it. Aside from the ‘Hyper Green’ paint job (perfect if you’re invited to appear in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but probably something of a liability at other times – other colors are thankfully available) , there are gloss black overlays for the badges and door mirrors and a striking set of aerodynamically optimized 21-inch wheels. Inasmuch as any Skoda can look ‘gangsta’, this one does. Even the grille lights up at night, which is surely the motorized equivalent of sticking Swarovski crystals on your face.
Inside, thankfully, Skoda has recognized that the regular Enyaq’s interior doesn’t need much upgrading, so the RS does add some nice faux suede panels on the dash, a wrap leather with contrast stitching for the steering wheel and some delightfully comfortable high-back bucket front seats. The rest is the same, and that’s good – I find the Enyaq’s cabin to be more pleasant than that of the Audi or VW equivalent. What has been – helpfully – added is new software, which can now receive over-the-air updates, and has tidied up the often confusing menu layout of the large 13-inch touchscreen, while giving the the whole system a much smoother look and feel.
There are also new safety tricks, including emergency steering which can help steer you away from danger, an improved lane-keeping system and an automated parking system which can memorize regular maneuvers, such as backing into your driveway, and run them at the push of a button.
In the back, space is surprisingly good. Skoda – sensible as always – just couldn’t seem to let itself become impractical, so despite the chop in the roofline, headroom at the rear is about the same as in the larger SUV model. That’s partly thanks to the fact that the expansive glass roof dispenses with a sun visor and instead functions as a set of ‘Reactions’ goggles when the sun is shining. The boot is still big too – 570 liters up to the luggage cover, just 15 liters less than the larger Enyaq SUV, but sacrifice yourself 100 liters if you fold the rear seats and load up to the roof. This will probably only bother antique dealers with cabinets that need to be moved.
What about performance, though? Any RS model lives and dies on its performance? Well, here the story is a bit more mixed. The Enyaq RS shares its two-motor, four-wheel-drive system with the VW ID.4 GTX and Audi Q4 E-Tron quattro, so it has the same 299bhp and 460Nm of torque. It’s a little slower to 100km/h than the VW, taking 6.5 seconds, but it suffers from the same weight performance as the Volkswagen.
That low torque torque that propels you forward is soon overwhelmed by the volume of the car, and so it feels slower the faster you go. A Tesla Model Y leaves him for dead in a straight line. It has a 20km higher top speed than the standard model, but good luck explaining it through the little window of your local Garda station.
Still, it would be rude to complain about a car that covers ground fairly quickly, and does so with exceptional refinement and comfort. The Coupé model’s lower and stiffer suspension means there’s a little more noise and rumble than in a standard Enyaq, but it’s about acceptable. The problem is that it’s refinement and comfort that dominate, whereas in an RS it should be the fun factor.
Stick it in Sport mode and there’s noticeably more agility and responsiveness than you’ll find in the regular Enyaq, or even the regular Enyaq Coupe. But that’s not enough, it’s just a bit more and therefore makes a bit of a mockery of the RS badge. The Enyaq RS coupe is actually quite fun 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 for the 204bhp rear-drive version and it is both cheaper and longer -distance.
The RS Coupé, thanks in part to being far more aerodynamic than the standard SUV-shaped Enyaq, can handle a claimed 500km between charges, a claim that sounds believable. The problem is that the regular Enyaq coupe – which for all intents and purposes seems just as good and equally desirable – can go 540 km, or about 15 km more than a standard Enyaq SUV, from the same 77 kWh battery. . Those extra 40 km can make a serious difference to your day. Not to mention the likely savings off the list price. Both versions can charge a little faster 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 the update from the dealer 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 silly, but it’s a charming car that grows inexorably as you drive it. Trouble is, it’s not an RS other than its name, and the standard car is so good it’s probably the one you should buy. Skoda has yet to announce Irish pricing, but the RS is likely to be a bit 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? This could have set our expectations at the right level. . .
Info: Skoda Enyaq RS Coupe
Power: 77kWh battery powers a 299bhp, 460Nm of torque twin-motor system, driving a single-speed automatic transmission with four-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual car tax) 0g/km (120€).
Power consumption: 17.2-18.1kWh/100km
Vary: 500 km (WLTP).
0-100km/h 6.5 sec.
Price: To be determined
Our rating 3/5.
Verdict: Nice car with the wrong badge.