Is it possible to drive around Ireland in four days in an EV?

Deep in Lockdown January we needed a positive focus into the months ahead. One plan I came up with was to see if we could drive an electric car ‘normally’ around Ireland in four days when better times dawned. 

he four-day journey was to comprise two elements: to find out how the EV fared in real-world driving conditions and to see people we had not laid eyes on for ages. We planned everything in accordance with Covid19 regulations at all times.

Fate dictated that I should have Skoda’s new ENYAQ iV electric SUV booked for an ‘ordinary’ week’s test schedule. All of a sudden it was to be the car charged (no pun intended) with taking us on our electric expedition.

The Enyaq 80 version has a claimed range of up to 535km. Would such a headline figure be a decent reflection of on-board charge or would it tail off dramatically – as happened with another marque some time back? Here is what happened as it unfolded.

DAY 1: Dublin – Belfast – Derry: We started with 467km worth of charge on board. Stress level 5pc-10pc. Reading 457km by Cherrywood – such a quick drop the mission was nearly aborted. Still, I upped from 90kmh on the M50 to 100kmh/110kmh after 40 minutes as I could not take the slow pace. Foolish or brave? We will see.

We arrived at Sprucefield, Lisburn after driving 179.4km with an estimated 294km charge left. We plugged in for 30 minutes on a normal charger; the reading went to 365km.

In Derry (after a 129km drive) we had difficulty with the Skoda charging card. Dennis from e-cars came to our rescue. Bless him. After a rest – I was a bit frayed – and dinner with friends we called e-cars again to stop charging; the battery read 474km. Great.

Day 2: Derry – Sligo – Ennis: Arrived Sligo (135km drive) with 316km and both Benbulben and I under a cloud. The charge card did not work again; stress levels hit 89pc. Using the e-cars connect facility we used a one-off payment system to charge for 90mins to 410km. Just enough time for an outdoor lunch, a cool-down walk and a chat with a family friend.

I was in better form after that, though I found the central console and stepped dashboard impinged on left knee room a fair bit. You notice these things when you are hours at the wheel.

We got to Ennis (188km) after a sluggish drive (roads/traffic) with 161km left and charged overnight at a friend’s premises. That is real friendship.

Day 3: Ennis – Cork – Dungarvan – Waterford.

After an early stroll around the lovely town we left Ennis with 429km on tap and headed for Ballinhassig (161km drive), Cork, for open-air lunch with friends and family. Got there with 307km and topped up to 381km with a domestic charger while we had lunch. As a bonus I was fascinated to see a lovely range of old Porsches – with one, in particular, being readied for the electric era.

The issue with the card was sorted, we were told en route to Dungarvan (88km), arriving with 337km to spare. Our first fast-charger encounter boosted reserves to 486kmh while we enjoyed tea and cheesecake (strawberry and Bailey’s) with friends.

In Waterford (45km drive), with 438km on the digital display, I relaxed properly, knowing there would be no need to charge again until Dublin.

Day 4: Waterford – Dublin – via New Ross:

After an uneventful drive back to Dublin (162km journey) we finished at lunchtime with 251km left. So yes, it was possible to drive the four provinces in four days. It was an adventure – with the bonus of seeing the country in full June bloom.

I admit, however, I was over anxious about range. The ENYAQ iV did what it said on the tin as far as distance-to-empty was concerned. Yes, I tried to moderate driving speeds but drove on motorways at 90kmh to 120kmh. We had to contend with lots of road works, farm vehicles and poor roads so there was a fair cross-section of conditions.  We (ahem!) used the air-con sparingly.

The ENYAQ was comfortable, roomy with lots of upmarket spec. It looked the part. While such matters are important the vital element was the test of its battery to last the pace. It most certainly did that.

The ENYAQ is Skoda’s first electric production car. It has a different way of treating spec levels. So instead of Active or Ambition trim, you get to pick the battery size first and then configure your car with equipment packs. While virtually identical in size to the Volkswagen ID.4, the Skoda has a stretched wheelbase and a boot 42 litres larger (585 litres). Would I do it again? Yes. And with much more confidence in the car’s ability to deliver. 

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