Volkswagen e-Golf Test Drive Review

white Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback on bridge

MAY 17 2018 BY MOTOR1 47

The e-Golf has a maximum range of 186 miles, and is even easier to drive than a normal Golf. And it looks reassuringly normal in every way.


Introduction

The Volkswagen Golf is about the most reassuringly normal car going. You know what you’re getting, and you know it’s a safe option in a car market increasingly muddied with SUV-like alternatives and more extreme-looking rivals. The pure electric Golf, or the e-Golf, is just as reassuringly normal in the electric car class.

Read Also – Nissan LEAF Versus Renault ZOE & VW e-Golf – Which EV Wins?

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Did you know? The e-Golf does 186 miles officially, but a Nissan Leaf will do 235 miles. If occasional long distance journeys are a concern for you, don’t forget to consider plug-in hybrid alternatives like the VW Golf GTE, Hyundai Ioniq and BMW i3 range extender. 

 

VERDICT7.0 / 10

The VW e-Golf is instantly likeable. It’s so effortless to drive – from the eery linear acceleration, calm refinement and well-judged adjustable regenerative braking – that it takes almost no brain power at all to drive. Plus, being one of the most understated electric cars, it’ll suit anyone who doesn’t want the extrovert styling often associated with EVs – as demonstrated by the futuristic BMW i3 and Renault Zoe.

The problem is that it’s substantially more expensive than a Nissan Leaf on monthly finance or when buying outright, and when a high-spec 1.5 TSI Golf SE Nav is some £100 cheaper on monthly finance it’s hard not to be tempted by the less complicated ownership prospect of a petrol or diesel alternative. You have to be doing quite a few miles in your e-Golf to make that back in fuel savings, which is a bit perverse given that most electric car owners do low mileage… Ultimately, the e-Golf is an excellent electric car, but an expensive one. Do your maths very carefully before you commit to it. Company car buyers, however, can feel totally smug knowing that this is a fantastically affordable company motor.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf’s design is certainly a safe one, but it’s got the sort of appealing familiarity and classless, any-occasion appropriateness as a well-pressed shirt. Simple? Yes, but excellent also. The e-Golf actually gets a lot of styling cues from the sportier GT models. It’s easy to tell apart from the standard Golf models by the blue contrast line and headlight accents, the bespoke alloy design (compulsory on the e-Golf) which helps with aerodynamics, and the striking LED daytime running light design. You also get fully LED headlights as standard.

 

Interior & Comfort         8/10
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf’s dash is dominated by its 8.0in touchscreen, through which you control the vast majority of the car’s functions. It’s easy to see and doesn’t suffer too much glare, while the straightforward rotary air-con controls beneath it make adjusting the temperature (all cars get air-con).

It’s only really the dials the differentiate the e-Golf from its petrol and diesel counterparts. Our test car had the optional £495 Active Info Display – which the rest of us would call a fully digital readout. We’d recommend you do add this if you can, as it helps to make the Golf feel much more modern, and it offers a variety of readout styles and an array of information – albeit without the variety of views that you get in an Audi A3 with the Virtual Cockpit (the same tech but tweaked for Audi’s purposes).

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf has a simple battery charge and range remaining readout, plus an instant readout for how much energy you’re using, which will inevitably encourage you to stick the car in Eco or Eco+ and take things gently.

Sure, the Golf feels a bit grey and drab – which is a shame in such an expensive variant of the Golf – but there is loads of equipment including adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, autonomous emergency braking, the full bells-and-whistles media system, and front and rear parking sensors amongst other nifty standard features.

You also get adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, which – along with a fairly supportive seat and a lovely, slim steering wheel – helps to make this a really comfortable driving position.

That boxy body shape and slim pillars means that the Golf has got just about the best all-round visibility in the class.

Practicality

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf is only available with five doors, and there’s plenty of room up front even for leggy drivers, while two adults will be fine in the back thanks to a high roof and decent legroom. Sure, the rear seat bench is a bit flat and firm, and a middle passenger will be tight for foot- and elbowroom, but the Golf is still one of the brightest and most comfortable cars for rear passengers in this class.

The seats fold flat easily in a 60/40 split, and you get some hidden storage beneath the boot floor, although the e-Golf does sacrifice a little of its boot space to its batteries, coming in at 341 litres compared to the standard Golf hatchback‘s 380 litres, or the Nissan Leaf‘s 370 litres. The VW’s well-shaped, sizeable boot is impressively practicality but it is compromised in the e-Golf, more by the two chunky cable bags that will be rattling around in there all the time rather than by the space eaten up by batteries.

Technology & Connectivity          10/10
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf gets the top-spec Discover Pro Navigation system as standard, which means a huge touchscreen that pings up bigger icons and menu options as it senses your hand getting closer. DAB radio, USB input, Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming, voice control, the ability to connect two mobile phones simultaneously, a healthy 8 speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard.

Not only that, but the system will show you the nearest chargers and what level of charger it is, although we’d still rate live information sites like zap-map.com as better for giving real-time charger info, including whether the charger is in use or out of order.

Regardless, this is one of the best infotainment systems going. The graphics and contrast is crisp and bright, the menus are generally quite logical and there’s all the functionality you could want as standard. We just wish it wasn’t such a laborious process to put a postcode in, is all, and sometimes it’s tricky to hit the icons precisely when you’re driving.


Performance & Handling         9/10

Performance

The e-Golf delivers 134bhp, and will do 0-62mph in 9.6sec, but it actually feels faster than that suggests in the low-end sprint up to 30- or 40mph, since the single ratio, direct drive powertrain means there’s no hesitation for gearchanges and the substantial torque is delivered instantly. It makes the e-Golf (and most other electric cars) feel seriously punchy if you give it everything off the line, and you can actually spin up the low rolling-resistance tyres quite easily.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Doing that will drop your electric range by quite a chunk, though, so you probably won’t be tempted too often. More likely you’ll have it in Eco or Eco+ and will be surfing along enjoying the outstanding refinement and easily modulated controls. The e-Golf is just effortless to drive smoothly, partly thanks to the fairly well-judged brake feel, which is often an issue with cars that use regenerative braking to increase battery charge as the e-Golf does. Here, you can vary the regenerative braking force by nudging the gearstick, or if you don’t need that extra energy to extend your range then there’s very little regenerative braking at all so it feels much like a normal car in terms of its engine braking and brake pedal feel.

Handling and comfort

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

This is a seriously comfortable electric car. VW has managed the extra weight of the batteries really well, so the e-Golf turns into corners in a neutral, grippy and unflappable fashion, with easily predicted steering response and weight, and body roll is well contained, too.  Ride comfort is soft enough without feeling wallowy, so overall the e-Golf is an absolute peach to drive.

 


Safety Features         6/10
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, although the standard car has been and got the full five stars  – albeit under less stringent tests than were introduced in recent years and when tested with the standard model.

Every e-Golf gets automatic city emergency braking with pedestrian detection, seven airbags including driver’s knee airbag, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, and even a system to try and help avoid secondary collisions following an initial bump.

An alarm is standard, too, but the odd thing is that you have to pay £290 extra for front side airbags up front and a curtain airbag – standard on normal Golfs. The driver’s knee airbag is also missing in the e-Golf that you get in normal Golf models.

Blind spot and lane-assist are optional, as are even more high-end safety aids, and it’s a shame that traffic sign recognition is part of the lane-assist option, meaning you have to pay £530 to get it.

 


Spec & Trim Levels         9/10

Colors

The color palette is a fairly subdued one for the e-Golf. The flat white paint, costing £285, looks great as it highlights the signature blue highlights on the e-Golf, or £570 Atlantic Blue is a bright blue that looks really good. The only standard color is the rather boring Urano Grey.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Trim Levels

The e-Golf is a trim in its own right, and it comes with almost everything you could want including auto lights and wipes, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, the full gamut of smartphone connectivity, nav and media functions and climate control. The things you may still want to add include the £400 Winter Pack, which brings heated seats and washer nozzles, and a headlight washer system, keyless entry and go is £375, and those aforementioned airbags are another £290. Plus the optional paint you’ll want, you’re looking at four figures for your options, realistically.

 

Running Costs & Fuel Economy          10/10

Range and charging options

The e-Golf will do 186 miles on the very best day, but do bear in mind that doing motorway speeds will eat up the charge faster than driving around town, so doing a highway journey will probably see you needing a charge after around 100 – 120 miles in the real world, especially if you’ve got to have air-con, wipers and/or headlights on. All that ancillary stuff will use up the battery charge faster, but if you put the e-Golf in Eco+ mode and up the brake regeneration (by nudging the gearstick side-to-side), that’ll help to extend your range.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Find a 40kW fast charger (normally on the motorway or central big cities), and you can get 80% charge in 30 minutes. A standard domestic three-point plug will charge the e-Golf in 13 hours and you do get the necessary cable to do that as standard, as well as the cable needed for fast chargers etc. Most e-Golf buyers with a driveway will also want the wall-mounted charger offered by VW, which will deliver a full charge in around 8 hours.

If range is a real concern and you do occasional long journeys you should consider a range-extender instead, such as the VW Golf GTE. This’ll do around 25 miles on electricity alone before the 1.4 TSI engine kicks in. It’s one of the better plug-in hybrid hatchbacks around, which switches between engines or uses both very effectively, and is usefully quick in outright acceleration, but wait times are very long as demand is so high, and it’s even more expensive than the e-Golf.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Reliability and servicing

VW provides a three year, 60,000 mile warranty on all of its new cars, and the batteries in its electric and hybrid cars are warrantied for eight years and 99,360 miles (160,000km).

Reliability is tricky to comment on, but the reality is that electric motors have far fewer moving parts and are generally much simpler than combustion engines so there’s just a lot less to go wrong.


Pricing         5/10

The VW e-Golf is fairly expensive by comparison to the Nissan Leaf that is its main rival. Put down a £3000 deposit on a three year PCP finance contract with a 10,000 mile limit and it’ll cost you around £450 per month. For context, a high-spec Nissan Leaf will be about £50 less per month on those terms, or an automatic Golf SE Navigation 1.5 TSI is about £100 per month cheaper – and that’d buy you a useful amount of fuel.

There’s no battery leasing option to reduce the purchase cost of the Golf, so you’re paying over £28,000 even after the £4500 government grant. Keep in mind that a full charge can cost around £2-£3 depending on your utility tariff, and do your maths carefully if you’re looking at the e-Golf in order to save yourself some cash. The reality is that, given the high purchase costs, a standard petrol or diesel alternative might actually be cheaper despite fuel costs.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Of course, if you’re a company car buyer then the e-Golf is a fantastic option and it costs the same in company car tax as a Nissan Leaf Tekna, at just over £140per month (in 2018/19) for a 40% tax payer. In total, your accumulated company car tax from 2018-2021 will be a fraction over £2000 – a bargain for such a high-spec Golf or Nissan Leaf. By comparison, the tax costs on a Golf 1.5 TSI GT will stack up to £7833, and that’s before you’ve considered fuel costs…

***This review comes to us via our partner site in the UK

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47 Comments on "Volkswagen e-Golf Test Drive Review"

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Are these unrealistic euro-ratings?

The EPA rating for the e-Golf is 125 miles.

Stop using the crappy euro standard

The 2018 Euro standard is the WLTP and it is not “crappy”.

BTW 2018 EPA (the agency) is… a fake !

The hamstrung performance even after the larger battery was added is a real head-scratcher. The battery has plenty of output to allow for more performance. Even the formerly slow Leaf is now accelerating to 60 in 7.5-8 seconds. 0-60 in 9.6 seconds for any model of Golf is inexcusable.

The Golf doesn’t have the longest range in this price point. It has one of the slowest acceleration times. And it is priced at the high end of the price range for an EV with this range. It even has a less cargo capacity than a Leaf. They really don’t want to sell them.

They sell every single one they make. Limited time offer. Will expire at the end of the year. No more eGolf then.

They clearly don’t want to sell them or that they become popular.
They have a polluting diesel that needs to move off the lot.

They sold more then the LEAF, Zoe and Tesla in Norway…
They would have sold more if they were able to make more. There is about 1 year waiting list for the car.

Strange that they have not increased production more, but the cost to expand may be a waste of money – that they may want to use on the new I.D. .. or the electric Audi coming this year?

They aren’t making a lot of money on electric cars. The dealers in Norway want them for sure, but the manufacturers are just getting ready for when EVs become their bread and butter, as everyone expects. I think it really is that simple.

Only Tesla, which of course doesn’t have a fossil-car business, and Nissan, which has a good margin on the LEAF, are making as many as they can (Tesla) or can sell (Nissan).

EV share in Norway is high, but it would be significantly higher still if all the cars that are officially launched were in fact available to buy.

Hamstrung? It is plenty quick. It has more power than the previous e-Golf (110kW vs 84kW I think?).

But the base gas Golf does 0-60 in around 7.5 seconds like the Leaf. Why not just make the EV Golf have the same performance as the other VW named Golf subsequently making it as quick as its main competitor the Leaf. Seems hamstrung.

Well, unlike in fossil-car world, it’s very very cheap to offer a bit more oomph in a car like the e-Golf. VW used battery cells for PHEVs in the e-Golf (in fact in all their cars; using only one type of cell is cheaper), and that means they’ve compromised energy density but gained extra per density! There’s zero doubt the pack can deliver more than twice the maximum power you’re allowed to use from it right now without modification. The motor too can almost certainly handle a lot more, and if not, could do so with minor modifications. It’s possible it would need a bigger inverter and some bigger fuses. Obviously if you boosted power beyond what other Golf versions have, you may need more significant changes – to brakes, tires, maybe suspension. But VW could really easily have done a significant but not crazy boost of about 40%, just like Nissan did, and not make the car significantly more expensive to make. Then again, why should they? They’re not making enough to satisfy demand anyway, and that’s obviously not because they can’t, but because they won’t. If you had a healthy margin on your most popular product, would you… Read more »

Rolling into the sunset in a few years. Going out of production.

And no replacement (I.D.) here in the US.

So another waste of time review. Battery size isn’t listed. However, from the statement about 30 min charging to 80% on a 40 KW DCQC suggests that the battery is ONLY 25 KWh (0.5 hr * 40 KW = 20 KWh /80% = 25 KWh). No way in ell that you’ll get 180 mi out of a 25 KWh battery.

Battery capacity is 35.8 kWh.

35.8 kWh battery capacity

180 is the European system, it was 125 for US.

The real head scratcher here is how they managed to make a more efficient car going to a bigget battery. The went from 24 kw to 35kw and improved efficiency without affecting the performance.

And yet it’s not very efficient. So there’s your answer: the old car was really inefficient.

You don’t know what you are talking about. After a year and a half I’m averaging 4.5 miles per kw….it’s extremely efficient! Only the Ionic is better.

“A standard domestic three-point plug will charge the e-Golf in 13 hours and you do get the necessary cable to do that as standard”
You guys could add a note at the top of the review that everything in it is in European terms. The standard plug in Europe is 220v that is why the charging time is only 13 hours.

220-240V depending on the country. 400V 3-phase is also common.

Where is German’s pride of making beautiful products. The engine compartment looks like a DIY project.

This is what you get for using an ICE model to make an ev. I can fit my backpack under the hood, that’s how much empty space is there. Some of the hoses and wires just run straight where they need to go instead of being contorted to death as they are in any ICE model.

The original e-Golf had a “pretty” cover inside – I like the unadorned current version. It has more room to work.

Me too. People who don’t want to see the car’s mechanics can just leave the hood down. I hate it when I open a car’s hood and there’s just a vast expanse of grey plastic.

They have removed a plastic cover. Not that is was huge, and a lot of the technology was visible – just like on my old Volvo many years ago. Before manufacturers started to hide all the stuff under large plastic covers. Under the cover, they looked the same. May look better with plastic stuff that hides the technology – but I loved the easy access on the Volvo at least. Everything could be changed so quick. I could change the timing belt and the pulley in less then 15 minutes. Not like the new cars with all kinds of stuff in the way, and constructed by sadists. Without a lift it’s very limmited what you can do, quick and easy. There are not really any serviceable parts under the hood of the e-golf. Some fluids, and that is about it – but when they have driven a long distance, and they are older – access may be an advantage. They have not done this to be nice, but since it’s based on an ICE car – the platform of the vehicle limmits a different construction. You will find the same basic construction in a Renault Zoe, since they both have… Read more »
The e-Golf is, in my opinion, the best EV for the driver – it rides great, it handles great, and the brakes are great. It coasts by default, and has 4 levels of regen in addition – and regen is well integrated on the brake pedal. It fits four tall adults, and has as much hatch space as the regular Golf. It also has excellent heated front seats. I mean, they are luxuriously warm. NO heat available on the back seat, however. It has a direct heating windshield defroster, which is a very good thing. It has adaptive creep – it has no creep by default, but if you are in stop and go traffic, and you creep forward two times, it starts to gently creep. Once you drive above a certain speed (maybe ~20MPH?), the creep goes away. This sounds complicated – but it works soooooo well. It does have hill holding. A few niggles: the charging port should be on the nose, and it should have a light. It should have an optional lock: either no lock, locked until charged, or locked until you unlock it – it only has the last one. Which is a pain for… Read more »

“and has 4 levels of regen in addition”
I’m pretty sure the 3rd lever regen is similar to B so actually only 3 levels…maybe i’m wrong.

“It has adaptive creep”
Absolutely HATE that!!! Can it be stopped? I always drive in B so the creep to me is useless.

And YES, GREAT CAR TO DRIVE!

I have a 2015 Leaf S but I’d pick the eGolf now among current offerings if I were in the market (and if the closest dealer wasn’t 200 miles away).

Next stop for me on the EV train is 60kWh, anything less isn’t worth the cost of upgrade over my current ride.

Yeah we have a T S 60-D – we are never anywhere close to running out of charge.

Try winter driving on a motorway..

Thats what SuperChargers are for – no problem 🙂 (Unless you have the worlds largest blatter and never eat)

Sounds like typical review from someone not experienced with an EV. Praises characteristics true of any EV without understanding limitations. Accelerating fast doesn’t hurt an EVs efficiency much but not using region or having region set anything lower than maximum will have a dramatic effect on range. The biggest effect is speed. Its true for ICE and EV but much more noticeable on an EV due to limited range.

Interesting. It is to hard justify replacing my Focus E with this car although I have thought about it. I love the quality and feel of VWs but for only 125 yeal world miles, I want to wait to replace my hatchback. I play drums and a hatchback is the best configuration. It still seems like the 200 mile Leaf when it comes out might be a good option – no battery cooling worries me though. As much as I love the 3, I am still a bit worried about fitting my bass drum in there. It probably would go in through the back seat with the seats folded down the way I pack it in my Focus.

The 60 kWh Leaf will have battery cooling..

I’m surprised that the E-Golf Electrics in our Phoenix HOT areas seem to be ok even in the heat so far. I’ve seen the LEAF Wilt and the KIA SOUL drop 30-40 mile range after 2 or 3 years from HEAT. The new 60 kW LEAF will be a big improvement if it really gets liquid cooling that will be great for for HOT areas

Maybe a benefit of using PHEV cells?

I live in a hot-as-hell climate and my 2015 Leaf reports the same SOH (high 80s) as the iPhone 6S I bought a month earlier. I have over 600 QCs, too.

One thing I don’t do though is take long trips, ever.

Every LEAF ever made has battery cooling. What you mean is either liquid cooling or active TMS or both, which I too expect the 60 kWh LG-battery-powered LEAF will have. But I’ve been surprised before..!

186 miles is in EU testing. Its only 125 miles in USA.

VW is still selling eGolf MY-2017 in the 5th month of year 2018. And there are only 40 vehicles in inventory. I believe they have reduced the price of eGolf also to just $30,500. It’s not worth that much when we can get a Leaf with 150 mile range for just $29,990. And Leaf is much bigger in interior space.

Leaf not much bigger in interior space than e-golf….especially if you’re 6’2” or taller. E golf better for those folks

The eGolf is just a compliance car for city driving. Looking forward to VW’s new line of BEVs.

It’s a great car for Europe anyway. The LEAF is probably a better buy at the moment, as it should be having just been released.

Motor1 is primarily a UK audience outlet, and as such it’s understandable that is using a European driving cycle for range. However, NEDC is so notoriously unrealistic that it’s bordering on the irresponsible not to discuss the matter at all. Worse still, NEDC is not even the current European standard – we are phasing out NEDC in favor of WLTP. There may not be any official WLTP range for the e-Golf yet, but this just further underscores the need for some discussion in the article.

Now that they want to write for a global audience it really should be obvious that it’s important at the very minimum to state clearly what standard is being used when specifying range. WLTP should be preferred whenever available, as it’s the only global standard, with EPA being the fallback. Any other, including NEDC, should be avoided, and if it has to be used, must come with a huge asterisk…

Including a link to an article discussing the different standards as a standard item in review would be good for new readers.

A driver here in the Toronto area drove his e-Golf 270 km (~165 miles) on a single charge on a mix of 65/35 – highway / city.
Disclaimer: it was a nice warm day, which was ideal and no doubt helped (28 C).