Is the hottest Enyaq really worthy of Skoda's vRS badge?
You’ve heard the one about the people who live next to a church, and wake up in the night when the church bells don’t ring? Well, I noticed the Enyaq when the suspension suddenly smoothed out. A rare patch, a few hundred metres of perfectly laid black top and the Enyaq glided across it. No tyre noise, no suspension grumble, no apparent effort. It was calmness personified. Like being airborne.
300 metres later, back to normal. ‘Ladies and gentleman we’re entering a permanent state of turbulence, please don’t try to jab the touchscreen for the next, ooh, well until you pass this way again’. Turbulent. That describes the Enyaq vRS’s ride rather well. It’s constantly busy, constantly bucking slightly, over-reacting to everything, fidgeting. It’s 2.3 tonnes, you’d think it ought to be able to squish stuff, but no, it’s princess and the pea all the time.
So the family don’t like riding in it. OK, the colour and styling has a lot to do with that. But once inside, where things are much more toned down, it’s the unsettled ride that irritates. I watch heads bobbling in the mirror. On really bad patches I’ve found myself apologising. Once we even got into a discussion about why it was like this. I haven’t driven an Enyaq with the Dynamic Chassis Control option (only available as part of the £4,280 Maxx package). Maybe it would transform things, but as it stands the vRS just drives… cheaply. I’m not sure there’s been enough investment in the car’s development, and the components themselves seem budget basic.
Because it’s not just the ride. The handling is weak too. That lack of body control I’ve already spoken about means you’re not quite sure how the car is going to approach a corner, or what it might do during it. All you can be sure of is that any bumps will do something. Some electric cars manage to feel perky and crisp, have alert steering. This comes across as stodgy, like it can’t be bothered. It feels heavy and like so many modern electric cars, mistakes grip for handling. It has a good amount of grip – but gets it by wearing 21-inch wheels with 255/40 tyres.
I recently drove an Octavia vRS. There’s a car that understands exactly what it’s for and how it should perform. It wears significantly narrower 225/40 R19 tyres, yet grips just as hard – if not harder – because it weighs half a ton less and has a lower centre of gravity. It’s engaging because you’re more physically involved in the driving (this one had a manual gearbox) and you get more feedback from the car. It was much more supple and sophisticated than the Enyaq. It was just as fast. And it was £20,000 less.
Twenty grand. Yes, at £35k the Octavia vRS looks a bargain these days, but I still can’t get my head around the £55k Enyaq vRS. The Octavia is just as big inside. The Enyaq probably edges it, but there’s not much in it for materials, ambience or equipment. Given a straight choice, let alone one that offered me the cash infill, I’d have the Octavia. That’s still a great car.
And so is the standard Enyaq. If you want an electric family hauler, the regular car does a better job than anything else in the VW Group stable. But the vRS badge promises more. More driver appeal specifically. Nothing too overt, just the ability to swiftly, effortlessly dispatch a road and deliver a modicum of enjoyment while doing so. The Octavia vRS set the template. The Enyaq has fumbled it spectacularly.