Volkswagen Golf e-Golf

October 2014

picture of car from the front

Only the fancy LED lights set this e-Golf apart from its stablemates

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 9Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Conventional approach to electric motoring is impressive
  • High level of cabin refinement
  • Excellent standard specification
  • Impressive performance and acceptable range in the real world

Gripes

  • Lack of engine noise means tyre and wind noise dominate
  • Looks may be too conventional for some seeking to attract attention
  • Electric motoring not suitable for all
  • Higher purchase price than average diesel car will put some off

While this seventh generation Golf might, outwardly, look like any other, Volkswagen's foray into electric motoring has taken a different path from certain rivals. The German firm has taken a distinctly conservative approach, using familiar components, platforms and design language.

It might be a big company but Volkswagen is well known for wanting to save money and time where it can. This electric version of the firm's well-received seventh-generation Golf is a good example of this policy.

By utilising a platform that was designed to accommodate both conventional engines and electric power systems, Volkswagen's Golf is one of the most conventional pure electric cars available. The clever packaging of the powertrain and battery has resulted in no loss - in real terms - of load or passenger space.

But the e-Golf, as it's called, is also smart in the way it operates. The car's cabin will be a familiar environment to Golf fans. The electric-specific controls are well thought out but unobtrusive, while the auto gearbox-style gearshifter gives access to various driving modes that promote greater energy recovery and more aggressive battery charging strategies.

For all the car's clever technology, it drives and behaves like a regular, modestly powerful diesel Golf. The electric motor's instant torque delivery ensures brisk acceleration, while cruising and urban motoring require little effort. It still takes an overnight cycle to fully charge the car from a domestic socket, but faster options exist plus a rapid 80 per cent charge in just 35 minutes. Real world range is around 100 miles, while careful driving can get you close to Volkswagen's quoted 118 miles.

Our verdict on the Volkswagen Golf e-Golf

With the electric vehicle environment far from mature, only you can decide if it's the right choice to compliment your routine. For modest, planned journeys the e-Golf is a good option if you're not a fan of the wacky, futuristically-designed alternatives. And being a Golf, everything looks, feels and drives in a conventional way. Competitively priced within its sector and offering a sensible range, the e-Golf is a compelling alternative to the norm.

Costs
Costs rating 9

Some might baulk at the upfront cost - subsidising grant notwithstanding - but think of it as paying for a considerable amount 'fuel' up front. It's the day-to-day costs that should prove minimal: recharging, servicing, lack of VED, London congestion charge exempt status and select business tax advantages.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

As you'd expect, the e-Golf is just as practical as a regular Golf, with good levels of head, leg and elbowroom for front and rear passengers thank to its generous sized cabin. There are also useful storage areas throughout the interior, while the rear seats easily fold to liberate extra rear load space when required. Boot space is still good despite the presence of a battery pack, the impact of which has been cleverly minimized.

picture of car from the rear

Familiarity ensures the e-Golf looks and behaves much like a regular Golf

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

This seventh generation car boasts a dominant touchscreen infotainment system plus clear and crisp dials for the driver. Everything operates with a reassuring slickness, and the touchscreen proves to be an intuitive interface. Displays and minor controls specific to the e-Golf prove intuitive and unobtrusive in equal measure.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

The basic Golf set-up is a good one and, in terms of the e-Golf, the car's ride is composed, leading to a comfortable ride. The car's cabin is a spacious environment, with ample room so occupants aren't rubbing shoulders. The only consequence of electric power is that tyre and wind noise is now more noticeable.

Car security
Security Rating 8

The usual suite of kit is present here, which means a convenient remote central locking system plus comprehensive anti theft protection in the form of an immobilizer and cabin intruder-sensing technology.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

No corners have been cut in this department, with the e-Golf benefiting from a comprehensive range of passive and active safety kit matching that of its petrol and diesel cousins.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Apart from making progress in relative silence, the e-Golf proves especially brisk thanks to the electric motor's 'instant on' response to throttle inputs. Drivers can easily adjust the car's responsiveness and amount of regenerative braking to further boost performance and economy respectively. The latter can be tuned to almost eliminate the need for the brake pedal around town. In real terms this Golf drives much like a moderately powerful diesel variant.

picture of car interior

High quality fascia adds a few e-Golf specific controls

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

As with any modern Golf variant, an important attribute of the e-Golf is its ability to combine performance and practicality in one package. It's no SUV rival, but as a car of modest dimensions yet versatile enough to cope with a small but growing family, the e-Golf mirrors the regular car's talents.

First car appeal
First car Rating 7

Purchase price aside, the e-Golf would make a sensible car for a first timer. It's easy to drive, not especially quick and day-to-day running costs are minimal. It makes most sense as a car for modest journeys given the need for frequent charging, although domestic overnight charging is an easy and uncomplicated chore.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

VW's solid reputation runs through its range, but the Golf's longevity has ensured it ranks high in buyer's minds. Basing an electric variant on a conventional model bucks the industry trend for designing left-field models, but for conservative buyers this electric Golf should tempt - not put of- prospective owners.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

In five-door form the e-Golf is a simple vehicle to enter and exit from, for both front and rear passengers. Wide door openings are a big help, as is the relatively high roofline. At the back the car's tailgate requires little effort to operate.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard audio unit is simple to operate and provides clear reception and good audio playback. Controls on the steering wheel and a display between the instruments also make the unit easy to operate on the move. The eight-inch touchscreen is responsive - making it good for accessing the sat-nav function.

picture of car in detail

Recharging is simple and, depending on the outlet, can be fast

Colours and trim

With the e-Golf's exterior almost identical to that of the regular Golf, everything should be familiar to VW fans. Externally there's a reduced choice of colours but inside the high-spec cabin boasts a premium ambience you don't get with a basic petrol model.

Parking

The e-Golf is no more difficult to park than a regular Golf, with only the thick rear pillars that restrict vision slightly worth noting. Parking sensors are a welcome addition fore and aft, with only VW's self-parking feature a cost option.

Spare wheel

Tyre mobility kit fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Electric motor options - 115 horsepower equivalent electric motor. Transmission options: single speed transmission. Trim levels: single trim level for e-Golf model.

 

Alternative cars

BMW i3 Dramatic looks and reasonable range are headline attractions

Nissan Leaf Popular and competent electric supermini is a rounded proposition

Renault Zoe Low cost sister car to Nissan's Leaf is a decent choice but better suited to light use

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Larger, SUV alternative is a flexible petrol-electric hybrid costing similar money



Over 1,200 more car reviews online

All the reports since 1990 are available on this site, just search by make and model below.

Step 1 > Select make Alfa Romeo    Aston Martin    Audi    Austin    BMW    Bentley    Cadillac    Caterham    Chevrolet    Chrysler    Citroen    Daewoo    Daihatsu    Dodge    Ferrari    Fiat    Ford    Honda    Hyundai    Isuzu    Jaguar    Jeep    Kia    Lada    Lamborghini    Lancia    Land Rover    Lexus    Lotus    MG    MINI    Maserati    Mazda    Mercedes-Benz    Mitsubishi    Nissan    Perodua    Peugeot    Porsche    Proton    Renault    Rolls-Royce    Rover    SEAT    Saab    Skoda    Smart    Smart Car    Ssangyong    Subaru    Suzuki    Toyota    Vauxhall    Volkswagen    Volvo    Yugo   

 

October 2014