The first all-electric vRS has arrived. Is it worthy of the badge?
By John Howell / Wednesday, March 9, 2022 / Loading comments
I have quite a soft spot for Skodas. This is born of the long held notion that the Czechs keep nipping over to Wolfsburg in the dead of night to pinch VW oily bits so that they might be turned into something no-nonsense and affordable. It means that Skodas generally feel fit for purpose, when a lot of similarly priced cars don’t. Less so the vRS models, which don’t tend to be that sporty and shed too much value. Although I did like the Kodiaq vRS I tested last year; it isn’t the best sports SUV on the market, but it’s certainly good enough – and, to use that key phrase again, it’s fit for purpose.
Which brings us on to Skoda’s latest sporty offering, the Skoda Enyaq Coupé iV vRS. It’s the fastest Enyaq money can buy and comes cloaked in a fastback body that, it’s claimed, is still practical. And very aerodynamic, with a slippery drag coefficient of 0.248 Cd. It’s also the first all-electric vRS model, which is significant. Plus it’s very green. I don’t mean in an environmental capacity, although I am sure it stacks up in that respect. (After all, Skoda claims many positives on the sustainable front: there’s 13.1kg of recycled battery housings and bumpers used in the underbody plastics, other plastic parts are made from sugar beet fibres, and 20 per cent of the side glass is recycled, too.) I mean it’s green in the literal sense, because the launch colour is Hyper Green, which is greener than the Green Giant fella.
Instead of just a single motor at the rear, the vRS adds another one up front to give it all-wheel drive and 299hp. I did ask why it’s not a nice, round 300hp, and the answer was something to do with homologation, and how the testing works. I got the impression they were aiming for 300hp and got it a bit wrong. The front motor adds 59.8kg in return for 109hp and 120lb ft, which gives the vRS a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 111mph. And a not inconsiderable weight of 2,279kg wrapped up in its MEB architecture.
Of course, a massive chunk of that is from the 82kWh battery (77kWh of which is usable) that comes with the latest ME3 software to improve the battery management and optimise its temperature control. This helps the battery’s efficiency, reduces the charging time and improves the range that, on the WLTP scale, is 312 miles. That’s pretty much bang on the same as the Kia EV6 GT-Line but just shy of the 331 miles the Tesla Model Y Long Range officially achieves. The vRS comes with 20-inch alloys as standard and the option of 21s, both with aero trims help reduce drag. It also gets progressive steering and DCC adaptive dampers, and is lower by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear – all are said to feature a bespoke tune for the vRS, although the basic hardware is available further down the range. As with most VW products, the DCC offers defaults of Comfort, Normal and Sport, plus any setting in between using a sliding scale.
What’s it like to drive? Well, quiet, as you’d expect. There’s a modicum of wind noise on the motorway, some rumble from the tyres over coarse surfaces and thuds from the suspension, but nothing that constitutes annoying. And there’s nothing audible from the motors in normal driving and only a light whine when you hoof it. At which point the vRS feels spry in a straight line, with that typical EV immediate smack of torque. Next to many an ICE SUV, including the far cheaper Kodiaq vRS, you’d say it is more than fast enough, although, in the world of EVs it is beaten handsomely by the Model Y and EV6. Still, the vRS’s throttle response is well rounded and its traction good, so you can power out of corners smoothly without the car fighting to cope.
Typically, there’s little sensation of the road’s surface through the steering and, for my tastes, it’s a bit lightweight in the Normal setting. Stick it in Sport and it builds weight predictably through the turn. So much so that it gives the vRS some welcome eloquence along a fast A-road. In fact, I found Sport the best mode for other reasons, such as the extra bit of ‘engine’ braking it defaults to and the far stricter body control. The Enyaq is a heavy car, and in the softer modes it’s good at cushioning you over bumps but fails the clamp down on the car’s vertical extensions. This leads to consistent side-to-side jostling on uneven roads that becomes annoying after a while. It’s still there to a degree when you firm up the suspension, but not nearly as much. It doesn’t make it too firm over broken roads, either, and given Italy provided plenty of those on our scenic route around Grosseto, I’d say that the vRS won’t prove too bruising in the UK.
Sport mode also helps sure things up when you’re zipping along. The extra stability means it settles reasonably quickly over shorter, sharper shocks, although there are times when you hit a series of low-frequency undulations that the vRS gets into a mildly unnerving rhythm – as though it were teetering on the edge of failing to cope with its gathering mass. Moreover, if you happen to be on the brakes in these moments, it’ll have the ABS triggering surprisingly early as the tyres lose purchase. Otherwise, the brakes are strong, reasonably progressive for a regenerative setup, but the pedal travel is quite long.
Is the experience fun? Well, if the road is twisty but smooth you can find yourself settling into a decent flow, but no, I wouldn’t call it fun. And if you try to play with the balance, sometimes it’ll tuck its nose in neatly into the turn, but at other times it’ll get a bit crossed up and the traction control, which you can’t fully disengage, will kick in and clamp down.
Inside, it’s nicely finished on the upper surfaces – I think better than the ID.4 – but there are plenty of cheaper, scratchier materials past the halfway mark. The vRS comes trimmed in leather as standard, which adds some plushness, and the electrically operated Sports seats are wide between the bolsters but have good shoulder support to stop you sidling around. The dashboard layout looks minimalistic and simple, and the small, 5.3-inch digital instrument screen has all the information you need, plus it’s supplemented by a head-up display. The 13-inch infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard is big, sharp and near enough to reach easily, but you have to use too many functions through it, and it’s not well laid out. The good news it that, as part of the ME3 software update, the stability and speed has been improved, but why, when you’ve spent ages sifting through many menus, setting the car up just how you like it – ESP and driving mode in Sport, lane assist off – does it have to revert back to Skoda’s defaults, even if you get out, let alone switch off the ignition.
At least getting in and out is easy. That’s because the vRS has a relatively high (yet decidedly un-sporty) driving position, big doors and plenty of room once you’re on board. The front is just as spacious as the standard Enyaq, and yes, the back is compromised by the sloping roof, but I still had sufficient headroom (and I am well over six-feet tall) as well as the legroom to sit behind myself. It’s very airy in the back as well, thanks to the full-length panoramic roof that’s included in the package. The boot is shallow but long so it has almost as much volume as the standard Enyaq at 570-litres, and there’s under-floor storage for the charging cables and 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats.
On top of the kit we’ve already mentioned – so adaptive dampers, 20-inch alloys, leather-trimmed electric memory seats – the feature count includes Matrix LED headlights, adaptive cruise, keyless entry, a hands-free electric tailgate, three-zone climate control, privacy and acoustic glass and wireless charging. Oh yes, and it’s a Skoda, so there’s Simply Clever stuff, like the umbrella stuffed in the front door. You also get a six-metre, 32A Mode 3 charging cable and the vRS charges at up to 135kW, which means 10-80 per cent charge in around 36 minutes.
So, after all that, is the vRS a good car? In many ways, yes: it’s quick enough, practical enough, decently comfortable and tidy to drive. But it’s not sporty, fun or engaging in any discernible way. And other than the extra motor power and traction, it doesn’t really offer anything dynamically that isn’t available further down the range. So if you want an Enyaq Coupé, that’s where your money should be spent – on the sub-£40,000 iV 80 RWD, specifically, because at just over £50,000 for this vRS, you could be looking at a top-spec EV6 AWD or Model Y Long Range – both of which are at least as roomy, faster, more agile and better to drive. Even with my penchant for Skodas, I cannot get past the sense that the first electric vRS is a bit of a damp squib.
Specification | Skoda Enyaq Coupé iV vRS
Engine: Dual electric motors
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 299
Torque (lb ft): 361 lb ft
Top speed: 111mph
Weight: 2,279kg (running order)
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