The success of the India 2.0 project has helped Skoda bounce back with vigour in the Indian market. Despite a whittled- down portfolio in the mass-market end of the price spectrum, the VW group company has managed to grow and re-establish its credentials. Globally, the Czech brand has announced big plans to enter new segments and make a bold transition to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). It is lining up investments of Euro 5.6 billion into new BEV development and is targeting a 70 per cent share of electrics in Europe. And quite a few new electric passenger vehicles are due within the next five years. By 2026, Skoda is expected to launch three new electrics - a small BEV, a compact SUV, and a 7-seater.
The first production BEV for Skoda was, of course, the Enyaq iV launched by late 2020 - first in the Czech Republic, its home market. Built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, the Enyaq iV shares a lot of the platform components with the VW iD.4 (also the Audi Q4 e-tron). Skoda India has imported and been testing a couple of test mules in India. It mulls launching of this compact crossover electric SUV soon. Earlier this month, I got a short test drive in the Enyaq iV at Škoda’s hometown Prague and here are my first impressions.
The Enyaq iV is the nomenclature that Skoda has adopted for the production version of the compact crossover, with ‘Enyaq’ meaning essence and the ‘iV’ referring to an electrified vehicle in Škoda’s portfolio. The plug-in hybrid versions of the Octavia and the Superb also sport this appendage. The Enyaq iV is offered in two body styles - a crossover SUV and an SUV coupe. The crossover SUV body style version is likely to make it here. The full-electric vehicle is offered in either a rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration, meaning it is a single or dual motor that sends torque to the wheels.
On design, the Enyaq looks unique, albeit with many of Škoda’s signature elements. What is interesting is that its design makes it look like a conventional fuel vehicle; its design has nothing too quirkily electric. Yet, there are design pointers to its ‘e-genesis’. The solid polycarbonate grille is a pointer that doesn’t need air intake for cooling a conventional fuel engine. A complex set of crystal slats is backlit within this grille. The headlamps are trapezoidal units with a small triangular kink at the bottom outer edge. The trademark butterfly grille has been customised into a sharper and more angular orientation. And it gets either a chrome or glossy black frame depending on the variant, with the latter being a feature in the RS and Sportline variants. The RS high performance version also gets other visual differentiators in a contrast gloss-black and, of course, RS badging to identify its special status.
The Enyaq’s side profile is interesting, with that sloping roofline highlighting the modern crossover/coupe-like design. There is a choice of rims available for customers in Europe; the choice for the Indian spec is likely to be a relatively conservative 19-inch. The rear of the Enyaq has a Kodiaq vibes in the way the tail-lamps and the tailgate have been designed. Typical Skoda lines and angular surfaces at the rear make it seem like a conventional SUV, except with the Enyaq iV coupe, which has a much more interesting sloping rear roofline and tighter tailgate.
The interior of the Enyaq iV has more obvious hints that it is electric. What with the segment generic obsession with touchscreens. It is pleasantly surprising, though, that there are still many manual controls with scroll and push buttons. There is a lot of room in the cabin, with enough legroom and headroom even at the rear for tall passengers, though the coupe has a couple of inches lesser headroom at the rear due to its tapered roofline. The Enyaq iV Coupe gets a fixed panoramic sunroof, and the regular SUV variant gets an openable sunroof. The e-SUV is about 4.65metres long and has a wheelbase of about 2.76 metres. It is a family-size SUV by Indian market standards, allowing t it to offer a large 585 litres boot. However, that will be the only storage space for luggage since there is no frunk (like in the Volvo XC40 Recharge). The ‘front trunk’ - the conventional engine bay - is taken up by controllers and other equipment.
The Enyaq iV’s cabin is plush, but young in its flavour, dash layout and choice of materials. There are soft touch panels that alternate with either stitched denim-like cloth or suede panels. In the RS variant, there are also carbon-fibre trim elements and metal highlights. The touchscreen for the infotainment is a 13-inch unit that crowns the short centre stack. There are a bunch of shortcuts for key functions at the bottom line edge of the screen. The simple, intuitive placement of a touch-sensitive volume adjustment strip just below the infotainment screen was another feature I liked. The instrument cluster was a small digital unit that looked like it was peeping out of a narrow cut into the binnacle behind the steering wheel.
The gearstick is a small unit with R, N, D/B positions for reverse, neutral, drive, and ‘B’ for low-gear or high regen braking. One of the unique features of the Enyaq iV is that one doesn’t need to use the start/stop button; you can just unlock the car, shift into ‘D’ and drive off. The seats were another highlight, nicely bolstered and featuring a contrast double stitch and piping, the seats in my vRS coupe were excellent to look at and sit comfily in.
The Enyaq iV’s electric powertrain options include three different battery pack sizes. The base 60 variant sports a pack with a net battery capacity of 62kWh. The mid-80 variant features an 82kWh battery pack and the top-spec 80x, and the RS Coupe variants also feature a battery pack of 82kWh net capacity. The base and mid variants are rear-wheel drive only and feature a single e-motor. The 80x and the vRS Coupe variants are all-wheel drives with torque being delivered by two motors on both the front and rear axles. I test-drove the 80 Sportline SUV and the vRS Coupe variants. The Enyaq iV 80 Sportline offers an output of 200hp and 310Nm of peak torque, with a rated driving range of about 544kms per charge. The Coupe iV vRS’s twin motors deliver a combined 302hp peak power and a peak torque of 460Nm. It is said to offer a rated range of just over 500kms and can sprint to 100kmph in 6.5seconds.
I test-drove the two variants on some winding rural roads and some stretches of the highway outside Prague. The vRS coupe variant is the more dynamically capable of the duo, with great cornering abilities and good feedback at the wheel. It feels more confident and planted accelerating easily to an electronically restricted top speed of 180kmph. Adaptive suspension is an optional addition, though my test mule didn’t sport this feature. I thought that the suspension setting for the Coupe iV vRS was a tad firm and the SUV 80 variant’s ride was a tad more pliant than I would’ve liked.
Even though the VW MEB platform will soon give way for a more updated all-electric platform, the Enyaq iV is a good showcase of what this platform is capable of. I guess that Skoda India will look to import the 80 SUV variant. But if the plan is to go ‘ballistic’ with its electric strategy for India, it could be the vRS that makes it here first. Priced at about ₹55 lakh to ₹60 lakh, accessibility may not be much of a focus. Pricing power will be restricted for Skoda because the vehicle will be imported fully built from the company’s plant at Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. But it could be the halo from which the brand can get another boost.