There are two main schools of thought when it comes to designing an electric car.
One is to start from scratch, designing something new, exciting and innovative, playing off the car's unique drivetrain and creating something buyers just haven't seen before. BMW's i3 is the perfect example of this - it's a carbon-fibre city car with narrow tyres and a lounge-like interior, different from anything else on the roads.
The other is to play it safe, electrifying one of your regular models to minimise the shock factor of the new technology. That's the route Volkswagen has taken with its new e-Golf - an electric version of one of Europe's most popular cars.
It could be a genius move by Volkswagen. People love the Golf - they love its understated styling, its reputation for reliability, its safe, solid feel on the road. And people love the badge - the Volkswagen roundel has cachet that few of its mainstream rivals can match. Why would you throw all that away and start anew?
The e-Golf's unique selling point then is the fact that it's a Golf - just one powered by an alternative means of propulsion.
That's how it feels to drive too. It's unremarkable in the literal sense - not dull, but nothing to offend, nor confuse, nor irritate either. Within the unique limits of the electric drivetrain, it feels exactly like a regular Golf to drive. Precise steering. A nice ride over the streets of the Berlin launch venue. A solid feel.
Electric power is what sets it apart though. Modern diesel engines are fairly refined and Volkswagen's petrol units very smooth indeed, but all feel like tractors after a scoot around Berlin in the e-Golf. Not only is there less noise than in any internal combustion-engined vehicle, there's less noise than most other electric cars too - not even a background whine from the motor.
You'll be first away at most traffic lights too, thanks to a wallop of instant torque from rest - 200 pounds-feet of it. You don't feel like a yob either, with no roaring revs or rushed gearchanges accompanying each standing start.
Higher speeds aren't an issue either. A brief section of motorway demonstrated its silence at higher velocities, and there's still some high-end power to make 50-80 mph motorway traffic undemanding to negotiate.
Drivers can choose between varying levels of regenerative braking out on the road - feeding more or less energy back to the battery when you brake or lift off the throttle. At its minimum setting, in Drive, the car will simply coast - but nudge the lever back to 'B', then left or right, and you can boost or reduce the "engine braking" feel in varying increments. In town, the maximum setting is strong enough that you rarely need to touch the brake pedal itself - simply lifting off at the right time will bring the car nearly to a halt.
Like its driving characteristics, there's little about the e-Golf inside or out to attract your attention.
You do get a set of natty LED daytime running lights in a C-shape on the bumper, and the e-Golf touts excellent LED headlights as standard. Inside it's fairly conventional too - the gear shifter isn't that different from those found in automatic Golfs, and the only visual cues are a charge and power use dial in place of a rev counter, and some energy-monitoring functions on the central touchscreen.
Priced from: 25,845 (including 5,000 government grant)
Range: 118 miles
CO2: 0 g/km
The Volkswagen e-Golf is among the best electric cars we've driven here at carwow. If you aren't a fan of the Golf then its similarity to the regular car is unlikely to change your opinion, but those familiar with Golfs will love the instant performance and refinement, and those familiar with electric cars will appreciate its solidity and excellent drivetrain.
The same electric car issues will apply for some - a home charging station would be useful, and if you do drive frequent longer journeys (most buyers don't, in reality) then the 118-mile official range (70-100 is likely in real-world use) won't be sufficient.
It's worth a test drive anyway though - it could be the best electric car on the market to introduce you to the concept.