Here's how the Skoda Enyaq vRS performed on a cross-continent road trip
So here’s a question to end our time with the Enyaq vRS: can you do a big cross-continent family road-trip in an EV?
To which the simple answer is, clearly, yes. EVs are plenty reliable (even our Enyaq, which had some temperamental times early in its life, has been faultless since its ECU transplant). There are sufficient public chargers around (in most of Europe at least) that you will, with a bit of forethought, get where you need to go.
So the real question is: can you do a big cross-continent road-trip in an EV… without total family breakdown? To find out, I dragged my long-suffering family – and a bunch of long-suffering bikes – from Britain to the highest reaches of the Alps. I realise 700 miles across France in a single slug, with bikes on the roof, is an extreme EV test case. Most people don’t tend to travel like that. But some of us do.
Before we set out, I tried to crunch the numbers on potential range: how far short of the vRS’s official 320-mile figure would we fall? I reckoned, worst case scenario, we could be looking at 150 miles. Turned out, worst case scenario, I was a little optimistic.
In the howling crosswinds of north-eastern France, our efficiency plummeted to 1.7mpkWh, equating to a range of about 130 miles. Because you really don’t want to play motorway fuel-light bingo in an EV, we ended up charging every 100 miles. That’s not very far.
This range issue, of course, isn’t specific to the Enyaq. It’s just physics. Stick a bunch of bikes on the top of any EV, you’d get the same result. In fact, stick a bunch of bikes on top of a petrol or diesel SUV, its efficiency will suffer similarly. But you can jam a whole load of energy in a fossil fuel car, very quickly, pretty much anywhere. EVs? Not so much.
The charge station situation in France is better than UK (a low bar, admittedly), but still short of ideal. Most autoroute service stations had a decent bank of available, albeit pricey, fast chargers. But once every few stops, we’d find ourselves forced to queue, usually because several chargers were out of service. EV charging queues move very slowly.
Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Yes, a 45-minute stop every hour and a half is a bit annoying, but at least I got to chat to a lot of EV owners, most of whom were (a) very enthusiastic and (b) Belgian. A bit less convenient than petrol? Yes. Total family breakdown? No. At least, not yet. And aren’t holidays meant to be all about trying new things? (The new things, in this case, being ‘chatting to many Belgian gentlemen about how bikes on the roof affect range’.)
And off the autoroute, in the mountains, things were… rather lovely, actually. I feared the steep Alpine gradients would further murder the Enyaq’s efficiency, but on slower-speed mountain passes our range climbed well past 200 miles, boosted by a whole lot of regen on downhill stretches. Even managed to squeeze sufficient electrons on board solely through overnight charging on a household socket.
A pleasant sensation, too, not to defile the clean, crisp Alpine air with exhaust fumes. Y’know, I do enjoy electric motoring. No, you don’t get all those thrumming rowly noises and fizzy interaction of the best petrol cars, but, in the real world, how often do most of us get to enjoy those anyhow? For what we want from our runabouts, most of the time – understated, fuss-free progress – electric cars fit the bill. So long as you can get ‘em charged.
So do EVs work for big, long-distance road trips? The answer, I believe, depends on where you’re coming from (philosophically, I mean).
If you’re starting from the position of, ‘Everything’s fine, internal combustion’s great, what can electric offer me that petrol doesn’t?’, the answer – when it comes to road-tripping at least – is, ‘Not a whole heap, beyond some added faff’.
But if you’re starting from the position of, ‘Looks like we need to change how we drive, can I do what I need to do in an EV?’, then the answer is, I think, ‘Yes, if you’re happy to do a bit of extra planning and quite a lot of waiting around’.
Only you can decide whether that additional plan’n’wait is an absurd retrograde step, or an acceptable inconvenience. I’m increasingly tending to the latter camp.
But if you are ready to go electric, I’m not sure the Enyaq vRS should be your first port of call. For me, the vRS treatment doesn’t improve the Enyaq breed. Sure, it’s interesting to look at, but the handling isn’t notably sporty, while the big wheels and stiffer suspension compromise its family-car credentials. If I was in the market for an Enyaq, I’d go for the non-vRS, non-coupe version. Good car, that.
If, however, you are the sort of person who struggles to find your car in a busy parking lot, I can highly recommend this very Enyaq in this very colour. Unimpeachable? No. Unmissable? Absolutely.