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Volkswagen e-Golf: A green, fun ride aimed at city dwellers Featured

Jul 01, 2018 Hit: 21 Written by 
The e-Golf is a way to enjoy the Golf experience while being eco-friendly.
The e-Golf is a way to enjoy the Golf experience while being eco-friendly. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

The auto world has been buzzing with electricity in recent years … literally.

With nearly all major automakers heavily committing to moving away from internal-combustion engines, some entirely and some in phases, over the next several years, the battle for best electric vehicle is already heating up

I recently spent a little time with one of Volkswagen’s entries into the fray, the Volkswagen e-Golf -- an electric version of it’s perennial top-ranked vehicle -- and I’m back with a full report on what the buzz is all about on this particular plug-in ride.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: Volkswagen e-Golf
  • Price as tested:: $39,240 (starts at $30,495) … tax credits/incentives for electric vehicles can lower cost
  • Best feature:: No need for gas; Drives like a Golf
  • Rating:: 3 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: City dwellers who don’t drive long distances and want to avoid the need to get gas

RANGE

Let’s get right to it, as this is the first question everyone is going to ask when you bring up an electric vehicle. How far will it take me? Am I going to get stranded if I get caught in traffic?, etc., etc.

Here’s the skinny. VW’s e-Golf offered a top range, in my testing, of about 135 miles per charge. And here’s the caveat -- with regenerative braking at play while you drive, you can boost your overall mileage by driving the correct way. So that number could stretch into the 140+ range if you’re not trying to be a speed demon and drive in an eco way.

Turning off climate controls also boosts your ability to go farther in the e-Golf.

So how does this compare to the competition?

Well, it’s better than most electric vehicles, but falls behind the Nissan Leaf (which offers just over 150 miles) and the segment leader Chevy Bolt (with a dominating 238 miles per charge). But be aware that the Bolt costs more, starting about $36K, so you pay for that extra range. The Leaf, on the the other hand, is priced similarly to the e-Golf, and has slightly longer reach.


Be aware, too, that tax credits and incentives can lower the price of an e-Golf or other electric vehicles.

What these numbers mean practically is that this vehicle is targeted at those who live in cities or nearby cities that just need a commuter vehicle. There is not yet the infrastructure in place to take a plug-in vehicle like this on a long road trip, which is the biggest obstacle I see to them becoming a mainstream vehicle in the short-term.

CHARGING

While we all love the concept of not having to go to the gas station, here’s where the idea of electric vehicles turns many people off. Charging is not a quick process.

Without a special 240-volt outlet in your home, charging is excruciatingly long (or as Lionel Richie would say, “all night long”). That’s just not practical.


If you have the proper setup in your home/garage, charging is a four-hour process. Cost to install is about $1,000. This is much more reasonable, and a must if you’re going to get a vehicle like the e-Golf. But again, on the roadways your ability to charge, fast or slow, is limited. Hence the reason this is not a car for long trips.


HOW’S THE RIDE?

The regular version of the Golf is lauded annually as one of the best vehicles anyone can buy. It’s truly an enjoyable ride in all of its many variants. Usually, that can’t be said of electric versions of vehicles, which tend to be slow and uninspiring.

VW has pulled off quite a feat with the e-Golf, maintaining the smooth and well-handling nature of the base vehicle while turning it into the e-ride. If it weren’t absolutely silent due to its electric nature, you might not even be aware of its eco-updated status. It really does drive like a regular car, just a bit quieter. Numbers on the e-Golf are 134 horsepower and 214 lb.-ft. of torque.

One small note about the lack of noise: It’s easy to forget to turn off ignition due to lack of sound. Luckily it reminds you with a beep as you are trying to exit.

The heritage of the Golf name is well-upheld here … with the added bonus of driving past all gas stations.


LOOKS
The e-Golf is low to the ground, and it’s small but roomy for its segment.

You get a high-quality but not overly fancy interior setup. It’s the usual VW simple but effective design. Similarly, the tech/infotainment setup is the usual simplistic but effective/easy to use setup that VW offers on all its vehicles.

It did offer good tips on voice commands, and what to say to control navigation, phone, music, etc. Connecting your phone to the vehicle via Bluetooth is an easy process too.


BOTTOM LINE

The e-Golf is not meant for long trips, but if you live in the city and want to avoid ever getting gas, the e-Golf is a decent option in this growing segment, especially considering how well it maintains the quality of the ride that the Golf name promises.

 

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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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