Volkswagen e-Golf Review

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The Volkswagen e-Golf proves you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to build a successful, attractive and enjoyable electric vehicle (EV). Utilising the Golf’s nationwide popularity and by capitalising on the electric trend, Volkswagen have created a winner without the effort.

At little over £31,000 (without the £3,500 government plug-in grant) the e-Golf is a middle of the market electric vehicle that is in essence a Golf with an electric motor. There are a few stylistic differences that separate the two, like the slightly differently shaped bumpers, spoilers and sills, e-Golf badging, ‘C’ shaped LED running lights and no visible tailpipe, but otherwise they are identical. This is by no means a disadvantage however, with the Golf being one of the nation’s best loved vehicles and one of Volkswagen’s best selling models.

“All the joys of a Golf with all the benefits of going electric.”

Jake Doran, Moneyshake Car Reviewer

Interior

VW have taken the attitude of “it it ain’t broke don’t fix it” with the e-Golf, by electing to re-use the interior of the standard Golf range with a few subtle differences. Rather than a rev counter as you would have in a petrol or diesel car, a power dial sits in its place and blue stitching adds a splash of colour to the leather trimmed three-spoke steering wheel and door cards.

The unique ‘e-Golf’ instrument cluster provides additional dashboard graphics and is easy to use through the steering wheel controls. This combined with a central 8″ infotainment touchscreen rounds up the driver’s cockpit and provides a minimalist and efficient driving environment.

You can expect the same spacious cabin as you would from any other Golf that boasts room for four adults. Front comfort seats are also included that supports height and lumbar adjustment for both passenger and driver.

If you’re looking to customise your e-Golf, you can also choose to add-on Vienna leather upholstery and ambient mood lighting.

Infotainment and tech

Volkswagen have ensured that their new e-Golf comes well equipped as standard, with extras available to satisfy all your tech needs.

An eight-speaker 8″ infotainment system (an optional 9.2″ unit is also available) provides the necessities for modern media with audio Bluetooth, digital radio, mp3 connectivity, SMS functionality and a single disc CD player. To top it off, smartphone mirroring (Android or iPhone) gives you access to handy apps like Google Maps, Waze and Spotify.

Navigation is also covered thanks to VWs built-in satnav system that highlights points of interest, displays speed limits, provides three route options (fast, short and eco) and offers both 2D and 3D map views. While Google may be favourite, the supplied navigation system is still decent with clear maps and accurate directions, offering a suitable alternative should you be without data.

As well as a good entertainment system, the e-Golf is packed with ease of use tech to further enhance the driving experience, including:

  • Heated Windscreen
  • Driver personalisation profiles
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Voice activation
  • Rain sensor
  • Automatic dimming interior rear-view mirror
  • Electrically foldable door mirrors
  • Door mirror puddle lights
  • Reverse activated kerb-view adjustment

You can also add from the following list of optional features:

  • Dynaudio excite soundpack
  • Rear view camera
  • Keyless entry
  • Park assist
  • Lane assist

Practicality

Practicality is vital in any family hatchback and the Volkswagen e-Golf tries not to disappoint.

While the boot loses around 40 litres of space due to the batteries, the remaining 341 litres of boot space is practical for most day-to-day use. Should you need more, the 60:40 split folding rear seats open up the cabin (at the cost of passenger seating) for a potential 1,231 litres of space.

There are also numerous compartments spread throughout, with a sizeable glovebox, centre console storage, front seat back storage pockets, two rear armrest cupholders, storage in the roof console, door bins and two bag hooks. All these stowage spaces help increase the abilities of your new EV to carry drinks, snacks and other knickknacks.

However, unlike its combustion engine siblings, the e-golf can’t tow a trailer or caravan, making it unsuitable for hauling heavy loads. A more suitable choice in this scenario would be the Tesla Model X, which can pull weight of up to 2,250kg. In fact, it’s one of the few EVs that can tow at all.

On the road

Performance of the e-Golf is decent enough for an EV, but it doesn’t really compare to its petrol or diesel relatives. Unlike the myriad choice of combustion engines available for the standard Golf, the electric e-Golf is limited to a 134 bhp motor. This provides a somewhat mediocre max speed of 93 mph, 0-62 in 9.6 seconds and a modest advertised range of 144 miles.

While lacking power, it responds quickly and offers a smooth, quiet and relaxing drive. Driving is simple too thanks to the regenerative brakes (which converts lost momentum into charge) which slows the vehicle nearly enough to drive solely with the accelerator. However, it fails to offer the same thrill as driving one of its cousins like the Golf GTI.

Furthermore the advertised range is an exaggeration of its real world range, which is a lot closer to 120 miles than 140. This is likely to cause range anxiety for its drivers that attempt to do anymore than their usual commute, requiring re-charging every 100 miles or so.

That said, charging stations are now more common than filling stations and a full recharge won’t set you back much more than a fiver, which is a lot cheaper than current petrol and diesel costs. However, charging times can be an issue if you don’t have access to rapid charging as a full recharge from a domestic outlet can take up to 16 hours.

At £31,000 the e-Golf is suitably priced for its capabilities and while there aren’t many negatives it doesn’t differentiate itself much from the competition either. After all, the Nissan Leaf has more boot space (405 litres), a more impressive range (168 miles), a faster acceleration (0-62 in 7.9 seconds) and a similar max speed, all for a slightly cheaper price of £29,700.

But its timeless design, that the Leaf hasn’t quite replicated yet, and it’s high-quality interior, makes the question of owning an e-Golf more of a matter of desirability rather than practicability. The Nissan Leaf may be more practical, but the Volkswagen e-Golf is definitely more desirable.

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