VW e-Golf on test: are you electric? Show us your I.D.
Search Driven for Volkswagen for sale
- Full Golf experience in BEV form
- Expected VW quality
- Impressive ease of use
- Expensive next to newer BEVs
- Modest range by class standards
- Eco-tyres short on grip in the wet
The interesting thing about the e-Golf is that it will be remembered as the start of something big, but also a dead-end.
The e-Golf was VW’s first pure-electric production model when it was launched in 2014.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are now a crucial part of VW’s future product plan through its new ID division. The company is talking about production of one million ID-brand BEVs within five years and cites the forthcoming I.D.3 hatchback as one of the three most important models in its long history.
As if DRIVEN readers need to be reminded, the other two are a round thing with an engine in the back and the model that’s featured on this page.
So VW’s BEV journey started right here, with the e-Golf. But the whole concept of the e-Golf also ends with this one model. There’s an all-new eighth-generation Golf on the way and although it will have electrified and even plug-in powertrain options, there won’t be a dedicated BEV version. That technology is just for the bespoke ID models from here on in.
The new Golf is already out in Europe, which also means this e-Golf is officially old-generation. But given the delays for the new model thanks to Covid-19 and the global demand for the ID.3, it’s likely that the e-Golf will be around in New Zealand for a while yet to fly the BEV flag.
We get the theory about keeping pure-electric power for the ID branch, but it’s a bit of a shame; because this car really does prove that you can introduce pure-electric power into a familiar model without weirding anybody out.
The e-version looks like a regular Golf (save some funny running lights and a different instrument panel) and even drives a lot like a regular Golf.
The powertrain has been calibrated to accelerate in quite a linear fashion – more like a combustion-engine car and different to the see-me-go standing-start performance of many BEVs. The chassis is a bit less sticky thanks to the low-rolling-resistance tyres, but the handling attitude is the same.
Refinement and ease of use are very much Golf things. This car delivers big on both.
What the e-Golf doesn’t necessarily do is deliver on current consumer expectations of BEV range versus capital cost.
It has a modest 35.8kWh battery and has been tested by the AA in open-road conditions (in “Normal” mode with air-con on) to deliver a range of 220km. That’s actually plenty for city driving and the occasional open-road foray – a DC fast charger will take it to 80 per cent in 45 minutes.
But the e-Golf has crept up in price since its introduction and at $69,490 it looks expensive next to other BEVs on the market. The Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Renault Zoe all offer more range for a smaller purchase price.
Or look at it this way: $12,500 less will get you a Golf GTi. A few thousand more will buy the quite exciting Golf R.
But then potential e-Golf buyers aren’t interested in petrol-performance models and given the Golf’s following, they probably wouldn’t be that chuffed about driving a Nissan or Hyundai either. If you want a Golf that just happens to be electric, this is perfect.
MOTOR: Electric motor with 35.8kWh lithium-ion battery
GEARBOX: Single speed automatic, FWD
ECONOMY: 12.7kWh per 100km, real-world range 220km (AA tested)
PROS: Full Golf experience in BEV form, expected VW quality, ease of use.