‘You are mad.’ In one shape or another, that’s what a variety of friends and family told me when I revealed I was taking my toddler to a music festival not just solo… but camping on the roof of an electric Skoda.
Never one to turn down the opportunity for adventure and making oddball memories with my three-year-old Brooke, taking the Enyaq iV 80 to Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire gave me the ultimate chance to combat range anxiety in the most testy of circumstances.
That is, a toddler who tends to be a vocal back seat driver and who can – like most children – be incredibly impatient if we’re waiting around for something to happen like charging a car to get from A to B.
Electric dreams: The Skoda Enyaq had a roof tent and handy pull out kitchen in the boot
The round-trip of near 250 miles, which included motorways, A-roads, rural roads and major service stations gave us a good chance to put the electric car through its paces.
In theory, we were the perfect guinea pigs for this specially adapted Skoda.
Full disclosure, our main car is a petrol Skoda Karoq that we had delivered in early 2019, so we’ve already had a bit of experience with the brand. This SUV was bought for our newly expanded family to throw the kit and caboodle in, and with the view of holding onto it for 10 years – that is still the rough plan.
But as cars increasingly go electric, we are potentially the kind of customers the Czech manufacturer is eyeing up to make the move over.
While this was the first time I had gotten behind the wheel of an electric car, within seconds it felt natural.
That’s because our Karoq is automatic. As I have pointed out before, I would never go back to gear shifting (you are reading a car review written by someone who is not misty-eyed for manuals – sorry).
The Enyaq felt like a slightly smoother upgrade. Quieter and with a few nifty little features that my Karoq doesn’t have, including a much better dashboard and interactive screen.
First impressions? I’d happily swap, if I wasn’t happy with our current car.
It handled beautifully and had some real oomph when it came to acceleration which was surprising given its size and the heavy battery.
The cabin was extremely comfortable and it passed all small family tests, including the most important one: plenty of space.
Breakfast is served: Brooke was very excited to have a bacon sandwich rustled up in the morning from the boot, while the collapsible kettle was vital for that coffee hit
Can you really camp in (or on top of) a Skoda?
Once we arrived at Wilderness, the key question in my mind was: how quickly could I get the tent set up and get into the festivities, while juggling an excited toddler at her debut festival, dressed in a dress she’d picked out especially to bop along to Sophie Ellis Bextor.
The answer was: within minutes. I simply unlocked four clips and the tent popped up. Slide out the ladder and off we went. Needless to say, Brooke absolutely loved it.
She is obsessed with camping and camper vans (despite the fact we rarely do either) and she was seriously impressed with how quickly we were set up.
To get it back down again required pulling a couple of straps, letting the air our and locking it again. That’s my kind of camping.
There was plenty of space for two people and we slept comfortably in there – well, as comfortably as you can in a field in Oxfordshire with a tinge of dance music coming from the festival until 4am.
This special festival built Skoda was also fitted with a Czech-designed EGOE camping unit.
This was an innovative pull-out system providing gas cooking, a sink and hose, and a food preparation space straight from its 585-litre boot area.
There was also everything you needed to convert the back into another bed, meaning another space in which two people could sleep and plenty of storage.
If my wife had come with us, one of us could have slept in there, while daughter and another adult were on the roof.
The roof tent stayed dark even when the sun came up and needless to say in the weeks since, Brooke has told pretty much anyone who will listen that she camped on the roof of a car, which does result in some confused looks.
I was incredibly impressed with the set-u,p as were some other festival-goers. I fielded plenty of questions about the car.
I’d never buy a camper van, but I could be seriously tempted to spend a few thousand pounds to convert a car in this way, so it stays 95 per cent the family motor for all those mundane things in life, but with the opportunity to jump in and have summer adventures without the need for hotels or fiddly tent set ups.
Smooth: The Enyaq was a smooth, comfortable ride and would be an easy swap
Public charging network – a work in progress
Having Brooke in tow, we needed a stop on both journeys from Essex to Oxfordshire. On the way there, I stopped at Beaconsfield services. There was at least a 30 minute wait for a rapid charger, a staff member informed me.
I drove to the slower ones, and I had to wait again, as some of the chargers were an old style that wouldn’t work with the Enyaq.
A driver helpfully said I could use the one he had plugged in as he was almost done. I asked him about electric car ownership and he told me he had it on a monthly lease.
He also told me he was handing it back soon. He lived in a flat and was finding heading to Beaconsfield on the regular a bit too much. This experience already tells me that a home charger is likely to be crucial, or at least infrastructure close to your home that is rapid and plentiful.
It was a similar story on the way home at Watford. Again, the rapid chargers were all in use, so I used a slower one.
Another gripe included not actually knowing how much I was being charged per unit of energy, instead, just blindly tapping a debit card. That’s pretty important given the current energy crisis/
Overall, I was impressed with the Enyaq iV 80, which starts from £42,435.
It claims to have a 338 mile range, which I’d need to test for a longer period of time to see how close I’d get to that, and other driving conditions such as it being cold.
I reckon it might have made it the 250 mile round journey on a single charge, just, but it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. All I can say was there was no range anxiety.
The 82kWh battery pack can be charged at speeds of up to 135kW with 80 per cent charge possible in 30 minutes.
It also has a brake energy recuperation system that harnesses energy normally lost under braking and deceleration to increase the electric range, which I found useful to see illustrated on the dash with a blue line when braking and at differing varieties of force.
The Enyaq is Skoda’s first foray into electric cars and if they improve from there over the years, well it has a very solid starting point – Brooke was upset to see it go as she waved it off.
‘It was lovely and quiet, wasn’t it daddy,’ she said as we closed the front door.
I can see why it won Autocar Best Family Car 2022 and although I’m not tempted yet by an electric car, I would seriously consider this as a first family EV motor if I was in the market.
CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST
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