There’s no question that electric cars are now starting to take off in greater numbers, and the proof is the fact that the major manufacturers are launching more ‘mainstream’ models onto the market. The latest offering comes from German powerhaus VW, with the all new VW e-Golf. We got a chance to take it for a spin the other day to see just how practical the vehicle is, and whether traditional Golf lovers should consider it as a possible purchase when it comes time to upgrade.
The big surprise is just how, well Golf-y the car is. There’s almost no external sign of the change of automotive power, except for three discrete badges front back and side. Now this may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your desire to flaunt your eco-cred, but it helps keep the whole thing nicely packaged as far as we’re concerned. This is a VW Golf, and it looks and feels like one. Nothing weird to see here, please keep moving.
This whole understated motif continues on to the functionality of the car itself. The announced specifications are pretty good for the genre. The vehicle features a 115PS, 85kW electric motor drivin the front wheels, which gives a top speed of 87 mph and 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds (with 0- 37 mph in 4.2 seconds). It’s no slouch. The formal range is 118 miles between charges, but of course this will depend on weather factors, load and driving style, so again it falls nicely within the typical EV specs in this respect. There’s also an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery (actually it’s 99,360 miles for some weird reason, but who’s counting?). The car can be charged up in 13 hours from a standard household socket, or buyers can opt for a 3.6kW socket to drop that to around 8 hours.
Taking a quick look around the vehicle and you’ll see nothing really out of place. Spacious Golf interior? Check. All electric windows, air conditioning, comfy seats? Check. Large luggage capacity out of the rear hatch? Check. There’s almost no sign of any compromise over a standard Golf. Nicely put together.
Check out the video below for our overview of the car during our test drive.
The e-Golf doesn’t disappoint in terms of driving experience either. As with almost every electric car we’ve tested, this one gives the trademarked smooth, quiet ride, but where it differs from, say the e-Up, is in terms of ride quality. The e-Golf glides over the road nicely, and sits beautifully on the tarmac, thanks no doubt to the low center of gravity from those battery packs slung under the passenger compartment.
The driving position is also great, with bags of visibility and a great view of all the information you need from the dash, and the all new 8 inch touchscreen LCD panel which dominates the centre console. Here you’ll also find all the controls for the air conditioning, in-car entertainment, media and phone connections and suchlike. There’s no fancy push button start here, oh no, just an ordinary key. We’re talking ultra conservative design in all its glory.
The console also houses not just the gear lever, but the Eco mode button, which is a little unfortunate since it prevents you from using Eco mode on and off as a sort of driving aid, which we loved so much in the Nissan Leaf. You have to make a determined effort to change modes, instead of having a simple button on the steering wheel like the Leaf which you can engage at will (such as switching out of Eco mode when needing to overtake).
That said, we really do enjoy the B mode full regenerative braking system, which gives you almost single pedal control of the car in slow speed situations, just take your foot off the throttle and the braking effect – and brake lights! – are applied. It makes for some very lazy driving all round, a real boon in city traffic we suspect.
Charging is done via the conventional multi-socket which is now the EU standard, which will accept both a Type 2 and a faster charge cable for those times when you’ve really got to get charged quickly. Fussy drivers will appreciate the fact there’s no fiddly cover to remove, just tap the outside cover, and plug in. A couple of seconds work.
The VW Golf has been around for 40 years now, and over 30 million have been sold across the world, making it one of the most popular vehicles ever. This new electric version is clearly designed to appeal to those who love the whole Golf marque, and who would find it attractive to move over to a more eco friendly mode of transport without losing too much of what the VW brand stands for.
We didn’t have a huge amount of time with the new car, we’re hoping to get a longer evaluation period later on, but from our initial experience, this is a vehicle which will really offer a realistic option for those people may wish to transition over to electric power, but without all the fuss. The fact that the e-Golf looks so darned ordinary is a perfect excuse not to feel alienated. It drives, behaves and feels just like a ‘normal’ car – whatever that is nowadays – which is perfect for the ultra practical driver and family.
Sure you’re still limited by the 118 mile range, but that’s probably not going to be too much of a problem for most people, especially those living in or close to a city, with the increasing number of electric recharge points springing up. And don’t forget these new EVs don’t have any of the old mechanical maintenance issues of conventional petrol powered cars. No oil to change or any of that stuff, just keep it charged, make sure you’ve got some wiper water for the windscreen, oh…and keep it charged up. You’ll probably never need to change the brake fluid because of the regenerative braking, and the rest of it is about as low maintenance as you can get.
So all in all, we’re going to give the e-Golf a big thumbs up on all counts. It’s fun to drive, nice and family friendly, won’t scare the neighbors or horses, and above all comes across as a really ‘safe’ option. It’s not the cheapest EV around, but then again the Golf marque has never been known for its ultra low price, so again it’s perfectly positioned to attract the right kind of clientele. We think it will sell extremely well in these circles.
Price: On the road price £25,845 (with government grant).
In the UK, the e-Golf is available with five doors only, and in a single well-equipped trim level based on the standard Golf SE, with the addition of 2Zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, e-specific ‘Tilleves’ alloy wheels and Discover Pro satellite navigation, with an eight-inch color touchscreen. For the e-Golf the Discover Pro system includes added functionality including a range display, and the option to pre-programme the vehicle’s heating or cooling systems. For smartphone users (Android or iOS), the Volkswagen ‘Car-Net’ app enables many vehicle functions to be controlled remotely, including charging, heating or cooling and more. Three years’ subscription to Car Net is included as standard.
The e-Golf is available with five doors, and in a single well-equipped trim level based on the standard Golf SE, and therefore including driver profile selection; adaptive cruise control with Front Assist and city emergency braking; a driver alert system; PreCrash preventative occupant protection; automatic headlights and wipers; an auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror; DAB digital radio; Bluetooth telephone and audio connectivity; MDI multi-device interface with Lightning and 30-pin connectors; front and rear centre armrests and cupholders; and front and rear reading lights