VW are about to release their ‘all-electric’ I.D. platform, making this the last ever e-Golf…and it’s only in its second coming. But you’ve got to think of the e-Golf as the stepping stone, the impractical made practical. VW have done a better job than even Ford can muster, gutting an ICE vehicle and shodding it with battery tech to make a pretty decent EV.
Most EV’s are purpose built for the task, lightweight construction is a top priority from the start…not with the e-Golf, VW’s engineers didn’t have that luxury when tasked with creating an EV.
It’s not cheap either, starting at £28,230 including the government Plug-in car grant, but the range has been boosted over the old model. You can now drive up to 130 real world miles, this range varies greatly depending on the type of driving you’re doing, temperature, what mode you have the Golf in…if you like to be warm etc.
So it’s best off using the VW range calculator, but think of 130 miles as your absolute most.
There’s really nothing to say here. It’s a Golf. Which is superb. You see there’s a lot of people that want an understated EV. Leaf’s and ZOE’s stand out as being all electric.
But rock up with an e-Golf and to the uninitiated it’s just another Golf.
The only tells are the e-Golf badges, as even the GTE has the funky magnet shaped DRL’s these days. Granted the chunky off-roadesque tyres may look a little on the poverty spec side, but they’re low rolling resistance and match with the aerodynamically designed alloys to increase MPG. Clever.
Even the charging port is where the fuel filler should be located.
Now as we’ve previously mentioned ultra-long runs pushing the range to the max are possible. You may or may not like to argue that EV’s aren’t designed for this purpose. But in the real world, with normal ICE cars we take long trips like this for granted, and for EV’s to succeed the transition between combustion and volts needs to be that seemless.
Alas, around town the e-Golf is a breeze. No gears and swift, smooth acceleration make it a joy to drive. Coupleed with its soft compliant ride and you’ll be won over instantly.
In fact we run the e-Golf around town for a week covering nearly 200 miles without the ability to properly charge at home. Living in a first floor apartment meant the only option was throwing an extension lead out the window…not ideal. But it did give us enough juice to make it to a proper charger after our marathon mileage challenge.
Over that weekend we also only charged from a three pin plug, leaving it overnight after returning from a day out we found there was plenty of time to recoup all that spent energy before our next jaunt. So it proves you can actually live with an electric car, without having a proper charger installed – manufacturers don’t advise this, but it can be done.
You can drive the e-Golf in either a freewheeling or recuperation mode. One of them will give a more traditional ‘car-like’ feel in the way it slows you down after releasing the accelerator. The other will simply free wheel, which feels pretty incredible.
To accelerate, let off the throttle and leave the car to continue without any power is totally alien. It’s akin to being a kid again, pushing off on your scooter and just letting the bearings do the work.
It would be interesting to see if anyone has ever tested what mode is best, as it seems a little counterintuitive to use the brakes to slow you down so you can recover a slight amount of energy, when you could just let the car coast without slowing – you’ll still recover the energy when you come to brake anyway.
You can select the harshness of the regenerative braking too. Levels 1 through to 3 increase the grabbiness, whilst the ‘B’ mode on the gear stick will be full regen…although it ultimately feels no different to D3 which is the highest regenerative braking option. Odd.
There’s also the option of setting the different ‘Eco’ modes. Eco restricts the top speed to 72 MPH, reduces motor output to 94 HP and makes the accelerator less responsive, along with cutting a lot of power to the climate control. Eco+ limits top speed to 56 MPH and motor output to 74 HP, it also switches off the heating totally. Normal, is well…normal and thus unhindered, as you’d expect to use and drive a ‘normal’ car.
Charging is easy, simply open the fuel filler flap and plug in. The e-Golf will charge to 80% in around 40 minutes, depending on charge levels.
Things can get a bit fiddly after dark when it comes to charging, we totally missed the extra bung that enables you to use CCS connectors when we first charged the Golf…meaning a slow almost trickle charge for an hour when we could’ve been fully amped and ready to go.
A light and a better external visual charging indicator would help no end.
Once again, there’s not a lot to say…inside is the same as any other Golf currently on sale. Which, yes we’ll say the same thing, that’s a good thing. It just looks like a normal car, no missing pedals, fancy dials or foreign looking objects to use.
The only slight gripe is the lack of a battery percentage indicator. You get a small bar style graph as you would in a normal car, but you have to juggle that with your estimated range.
Petrol or diesel cars use the same amount of fuel if you use the heating or not, in an e-Golf HVAC kills the battery. So on a cold, wet wintery day a bar graph becomes pretty meaningless, you could burn through that in half your journey. It makes you more anxious than you probably need to be. A simple percentage indicator would go a long way to reassure you.
There is a way you can see your battery %, but you have to use the VW connected app…which you can’t do whilst driving…legally.
As a town run-around the e-Golf makes perfect sense, stupidly easy to use, a comfy ride and charging wouldn’t be an issue. But at £28k that’s a bloody expensive runabout.
The UK still needs to get its arse into gear when it comes to rapid chargers too. You could then make longer journeys in comfort.
As a halfway house between internal combustion and pure electric the e-Golf is a superb ambassador. It may not be the well-rounded, 300 mile hatch we dream of, but it’s a damn good try with the current tech available.
Read more: carwitter.com