Why it’s here: is the vRS badge still relevant in the electric age?
What characterises a Skoda? For me it’s honesty and unpretentiousness. They know what they’re for and they deliver it with bells on. In a massive boot. With an ice scraper niftily tucked away somewhere. But I’m worried about this new Enyaq vRS. It has a Crystal Face made of 130 LEDs. For crystal face, read diamonte moustache.
OK, so beyond that it’s hard to unearth much else that suggests Skoda is abandoning its long-held principles. But even before it turned up I had a nagging doubt about this Enyaq vRS. What’s it for exactly? That’s a question that Skodas have always managed to answer in a single sentence. I reckon this is going to take the six months I have it to pin down.
Partly this is down to the doubts I have around hot versions of pretty much every EV I’ve ever driven. I can’t think of a single case where the fast one is better. Mustang Mach-e? The 480bhp GT is horrid. Kia’s 575bhp EV6 GT? It’s got a drift mode. For what possible reason? Yes you can add more speed to an EV, but no-one has yet tackled the thorny issue of making them more satisfying and engaging to drive. They are all flabby heffalumps.
I don’t see much to suggest this 2,183kg Skoda is going to buck the trend. And nor will it keep up. It’s only got 295bhp. The claimed 0-62mph is 6.4secs. Top speed is a mighty 111mph. But the vRS badge has never been about outright performance, it’s always had a slightly softer core, a careful blend of performance and practicality. Which this one undermines by having a daft coupe roofline. I’m not a fan – see my earlier comment about pretension. However, I do admit that on the biggest wheels (these 21s are a £620 option) it does have a certain stance.
More on all that in due course, here’s what we’ve got to play with. The vRS is the flagship of the Enyaq range and only comes in coupe guise. It has a motor on each axle for 4WD and can charge at 135kW, meaning 36 minutes to get to 80 per cent. WLTP range stands at 323 miles, but so far I’ve done some 1,300 miles in it and I’m finding more like 170-200 miles from the 77kWh battery, averaging around 2.8mpkWh rather than the claimed 3.7. Cold weather, innit.
Hyper Green is the signature colour. It’s been nicknamed Stabilo in my house. It’s FOC (as are most others) but you’ll pay £390 for Phoenix Orange or Velvet Red. Instead of this Suite trim inside, you can have Lounge which replaces leather panels with microfibre. That would be better I reckon and also costs zilch. This one doesn’t have either of the optional packages: the £2,335 Advanced Package (head up display, heated windscreen and seats all round, uprated sound system), or the £4,280 Maxx package (adaptive dampers, massage seats, parking plus system, extra airbags). I don’t feel like I’m missing out. It’s generously specced as standard. But the execution… the mood lighting looks half hearted and cheap and door pulls are hard, brittle plastic.
And at this point I need to remind you that the Skoda Enyaq vRS is £55,000. You could have a basic VW ID.Buzz for only a couple of grand more. For the same money BMW would sell you one of its very best and most sensible cars: the hybrid 330e xDrive Touring. And don’t think leasing is cost effective. You’re looking at £774 a month on Skoda’s most basic Lease&Care programme.
Last year I did a big test of 11 all-electric family cars when the Tesla Model Y arrived. The ordinary Skoda Enyaq made it into the top three. It was the practical, value choice. You don’t mind about hard plastics when you’re more concerned if they’ll shed dirt easily and wear battle scars lightly. But this is well over 10 grand more and as yet I can’t see why you’d bother. The vRS badge has some work to do here.