The Volkswagen e-Golf takes pretty much all the quality, practicality and comfort of the standard model and adds the attraction of zero-emission motoring, but it’s not the cheapest electric car
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Volkswagen e-Golf is simply an electric version of the company’s high-class family hatchback. It’s one of a growing number of electric cars in this sector of the market, including – perhaps most famously – the Nissan Leaf, but also the Hyundai Ioniq and BMW i3.
However, in one way, it’s very different to those rivals, as it’s not a standalone model. Instead, the e-Golf is very deliberately part of a range of cars that also includes petrol and diesel models.
Admittedly, the e-Golf does have its own looks – including a covered grille, with blue details, LED lights and unique wheels – but the differences are very subtle. And, like every Golf, this electric version has exceptional build quality and uses some very classy materials. The e-Golf also comes in its own very highly specified trim level.
From the driver’s seat, everything looks pretty much the same as in any Golf – which is no bad thing. The central data display between the two dials is very easy to use through the controls on the steering wheel, and the touchscreen on the centre console (an 8.0-inch unit as standard, or a 9.2-inch unit as an option) is equally simple.
The only differences you’ll spot between this and other Golfs are the blue stitching (which is complemented by the colour of various trim details) and the power dial that sits where the rev counter would in a petrol or diesel car.
I can’t think of many other models that show more clearly than the e-Golf how little compromise you have to make to enjoy all-electric, zero-emission motoring
So far, so Golf – and that continues when it comes to comfort. There’s every bit as much room in the front and rear seats of the e-Golf as in any other Golf – which is good news, as this is one of the more spacious family hatchbacks, with room for four adults in comfort.
Only in the boot do you have to make any sacrifice over the standard Golf – and it’s a pretty minor one. In order to fit the batteries, Volkswagen has had to lose about 40 litres of boot space. But, the 341 litres you’re left with is still enough for most everyday needs.
It’s the same story when it comes to the way the car drives. A fully charged battery will give you something like 100 miles, which will be plenty for most people each day. Once the batteries are depleted, you’ll need about 13 hours to recharge them from a domestic three-pin socket. However, if you can get a fast-charger, that charge time will drop to just four hours.
If you’ve only ever driven petrol or diesel cars, driving an electric will be a strange experience to start with. But, it’s a pleasant one, as the electric motors deliver their power instantly, so the car responds quickly and quietly. That means the e-Golf is a great way to get around town: it’s simple to drive, smooth and remarkably relaxing. Much of the time, you can drive just using the accelerator, as the force of the regenerative brakes (which convert the car’s lost momentum into charge in the battery) is enough to slow the car without the driver needing to press the brake pedal.
Admittedly, the acceleration slows down a bit once you’re beyond the city limits, but there’s no problem in getting up to, and staying at, motorway speeds. The car is pretty quiet at the legal limit, too, but high-speed runs will seriously eat into the car’s range. Mind you, the same is true of any electric car.
Compared to them, the e-Golf isn’t the cheapest, but it does score over the alternatives with its high-quality interior, good refinement and smooth drive. If you want a family-friendly, zero-emission car, this is well worth a look.