DriveLife was invited to the South Island to hear about, look at, and drive the all-new Skoda Enyaq, the brand’s first battery-electric vehicle (BEV).

While the model has been available in the UK and Europe for a few years, supply issues mean we will only see the car available in New Zealand later this year. In fact, New Zealand is the first country outside of the UK and Europe to get this model.

Today’s launch wouldn’t be so much about telling people the car is for sale as from the 25th of February – it’s more about pre-sales; from today, you’ll be able to pre-order your Enyaq, with the first deliveries around September this year, although Skoda NZ is working hard to bring the first delivery dates earlier than that.

Natalie O’Brien, Skoda NZ Marketing Manager, mentions that the Enyaq takes “Skoda into the future”. It’s their first car built on the all-new MEB platform, a platform that is designed only for an EV. This is a route that many brands are taking and it gives the occupants more room, and means you can generally fit more batteries into the floorpan. In the Enyaq, the batteries are distributed across the floor for a more even weight spread.

She suggests “you can’t define a brand by the badge anymore”, although the Enyaq carries Skoda’s new badge, as well as the new frontal design of “tech-deck face”. While the Enyaq certainly has design cues of current Skoda models, you can see that it is also quite different.

2023 SKODA ENYAQ

The new model has a unique interior and exterior, and Skoda claims it is an “exceptional drive experience”. We’ll check that out later when we drive the cars. They do go to pains to say that this is a premium model, and that’s reflected in pricing that starts at $92,990 – the most expensive Skoda you can buy here. We’re told that buyers in New Zealand are going for the top two trim levels of most Skoda, so Skoda NZ has decided to simply offer the two higher levels of trim and be done with it.

There will be 3 variants available to New Zealand buyers:

  • Enyaq Sportline SUV
  • Enyaq Max SUV
  • Enyaq Max Coupe

The battery pack on all three models is the same, an 82kWh gross battery that has 77kW of usable capacity. This gives the car a WLTP range of 532km in the SUV, and 544km in the Coupe. The Coupe is slightly more aerodynamic than the SUV (0.234 vs. 0.257) so this means slightly better range.

Energy consumption is listed at 16.2kWh/100km in the SUV, and 15.7kWh/100km in the Coupe.

The Enyaq will charge from 0-80% in 30 minutes on a supercharger, and will take up to 153kW of charge max. On a 50kW charger (the most common fast charger in New Zealand), that 0-80% time will take around 1hr10.

Drive is via the rear wheels only, with a 150kW electric motor that puts out 310Nm of torque which will get the car to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds.

Each car is sold with both a tether cable for fast chargers that don’t have one and also a 230-volt home charger. A vehicle-to-load (V2L) adaptor isn’t available yet, but Skoda NZ is working on this. A V2L adaptor will allow you to run electric appliances off your Enyaq, for example when camping, or in a power outage.

The Enyaq is not fitted with a towbar as standard, but one is available at an additional cost. The tow rating is 1,000kg.

All models have a user-selectable tailight animation feature, where you can pick from one of four options to make your tailights change with the unlock of the car, or when you lock it. We saw these in the evening, and they are geeky, but still cool.

Enyaq’s ‘Crystal Face’ at night

2023 SKODA ENYAQ – MODELS

It may be the ‘base’ model in New Zealand, but the Sportline Enyaq is pretty well equipped – as you’d expect at over $90K. There are lots of standard features in the car, like sports tuned suspension, 20” alloy wheels, an electric tailgate, heated front seats and steering wheel, full LED matrix headlights, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist, wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic wipers, 360-degree camera system, electric driver’s seat, 3-zone climate AC, Virtual Cockpit, and an 8-speaker audio system.

The Max model, which retails at $97,990, ups the feature list by adding Dynamic Chassis Control, an electric passenger’s seat, heated rear seats, a 12-speaker Canton sound system, extra airbags, a heads-up display, Skoda’s ‘Crystal Face’ grille, a massaging driver’s seat, and a heated windscreen.

What is the Crystal Face? Essentially, it’s a grille that has a bunch of LEDs inset that glow when you are driving with the headlights on. There are some that won’t like this (you can turn it off) but most will enjoy the light show. The Crystal Face does a little animation as you lock or unlock the car, but when you are driving the lights are on all the time. For me, I thought they were pretty cool, and it’s certainly something no other brand is doing at the moment.

For $5K more than the Sportline, the Max model seems like a no-brainer.

The Coupe Max retails at $102,990.

2023 SKODA ENYAQ – DESIGN

The front end of the car is almost vertical and the bonnet is short – the benefit of a rear-engine EV. The Coupe version has a sloping rear end as you’d expect, and it was interesting to note that neither SUV nor Coupe has plastic wheel arches – or any other plastic adornments for SUV’s sake.

Still on that front design, there are air pockets in the front spoiler for cooling and aerodynamics, and an active shutter grille is fitted.

A new design feature is the two creases that run up and down the bonnet; they are inverted on the Enyaq, and this design feature will carry over to all Skoda EVs in the future.

The SUV is quite a large car, reflected in its 585 litres of boot space with the seats up; this is 15 litres more than the Coupe. Seats-down space is listed at 1,710 litres (1,610 in the Coupe).

The Coupe comes with a full glass panoramic roof that increases front headspace by 40mm and this helps offset rear passengers’ headroom. In fact, the rear headroom in the Couple model is the same as the SUV – due to that pano roof.

Rear privacy glass is fitted, and acoustic glass is used in the front and rear side windows for reduced road, tyre and wind noise.

2023 SKODA ENYAQ – INTERIOR

The front of the cabin has carbon-effect trim, ambient lighting, a black headliner, and steering wheel paddles for brake regeneration. The seats are heated in the front on the Sportline, and the rear seats are heated in Max models. They’re finished in suede, with grey stitching.

Skoda has moved to a gear selector rather than a lever, and rear window blinds are fitted as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and wireless, and there are the usual Skoda features like umbrellas in the front doors, a cargo system in the boot, and storage under the rear floor (which is variable in height). You can raise the rear floor up so it’s level with the folded back seats, effectively giving you a flat floor.

The centre touchscreen is a very decent 13” in size.

2023 SKODA ENYAQ – LAUNCH

As of today, you can pre-order your Enyaq online, or by going to a Skoda dealer. While the exact model you want may not be at the dealership, Skoda has organised for you to use either a virtual showroom or even using a virtual reality headset, where you can walk around and sit in the car you are considering. It’s setting a new benchmark in the way cars can be purchased.

There’s also been a change in the way Enyaqs are made available. Instead of a dealer owning a certain amount of cars to sell, all models for sale are available across the country. It should mean you get the model/colour that you want. In saying that, initially pre-orders will mean you will need to wait for your Enyaq to be built at the factory.

Clyde Dam, the ‘petrol station’ for the Enyaq

2023 SKODA ENYAQ – FIRST DRIVE

With the presentation over, it was time to drive 300km or so to Queenstown. All the cars available are top-spec SUV Max models, so we wouldn’t get an opportunity to test out the Sportline today. Skoda NZ could not get any Coupe models into the country in time, so we’d only be driving SUVs. The cars we had came from the UK, meaning there were some things like Traffic Sign Recognition that would not work today.

Getting in as a passenger for the first leg, there is an instant sense of quality in the cabin, as is the case for most current Skoda models.

Skoda hasn’t made any sort of attempt to integrate the centre touchscreen, so it sits proud, right up there on the dashboard. It makes it easy to use but does become a focal point in the car. The touchscreen itself is excellent; high resolution, relatively quick response and so many options. If you are one of those people that like to play with things on a car’s touchscreen, you’ll have plenty to choose from in the Enyaq.

Hitting the windy roads, the car feels pretty planted from the passenger’s side, tyre and road noise being well subdued. Thankfully, none of the Enyaqs are fitted with Michelin’s Primacy tyres; it’s a great tyre and common to EVs, but is let down by excessive tyre noise. Not so on the Enyaq, and over our entire 3-4 hours of driving, wind, tyre and road noise are almost non-existent.

Stopping for a coffee at Pitches Store in Ophir

The ride is excellent. There is no doubt that the Enyaq is a heavy car, but it does very well for ride quality. A full review over a week will really show what it’s like as a Daily Driver, as the roads we’re travelling today are all pretty well surfaced. The South Island has it all over the North Island in this respect.

Time to switch seats. The performance isn’t startling, but it’s usable. It’s extremely smooth to drive, and it doesn’t take long before I have to agree with Skoda NZ’s comment that you can’t focus on the price of the Enyaq; it’s all about the driving experience.

The dashboard on the Enyaq is tiny, but with the heads-up display of the Max model, it’s not really needing to be any larger. The clarity of the dashboard is excellent, with high resolution.

On some of the windy roads, it handles very well. You can feel the weight, but being rear-wheel drive means you can punt the car through some twisties quite easily. So far so good.

Full-throttle acceleration in Sport mode to pass other traffic gives reasonable performance, certainly enough for safe and comfortable passing. The Enyaq has adaptive regen, so the car will slow itself using regen first (when in adaptive cruise control mode) before applying the brakes. It seems to work ok, but we’ll wait until we test the car to see how it goes on the daily commute.

All too quickly we arrived at our destination. Final verdict? As always, we’ll wait until we test the car fully, but first impressions are very good; it may be the most expensive Skoda, but initial thoughts are that it’s also the best.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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