Caroline drives the 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf.
The Volkswagen e-Golf has been at the forefront of Volkswagen’s electric vehicle offering since it was launched in 2014. While next year Volkswagen will launch the first model in their new fully electric I.D. range of cars, the e-Golf has been a most palatable bridge to a future of electric motoring.
And that’s because the Volkswagen Golf is one of the most iconic hatchbacks on the planet. Based on the award-winning Mark 7 Volkswagen Golf, the current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf compromises virtually none of the comfort, refinement, class and quality of one of Ireland’s favourite hatchbacks. In my opinion, that’s probably the e-Golf’s massive USP as an electric vehicle.
While electric vehicles still account for low numbers on Irish roads, there’s more interest and registrations were up a massive 540 percent in the first two months of 2019 (1127 electric cars registered versus 176 in Jan/Feb 2018). New EV models have arrived in the last 12 months and there are more on the way. So how does the Volkswagen e-Golf stack up?
How far will the Volkswagen e-Golf get me on a full charge?
The Volkswagen e-Golf received the same cosmetic and equipment tweaks as the rest of the Golf range in 2017. But there was also an increase in the energy capacity of the e-Golf’s lithium-ion battery from 24.2 kWh to 35.8 kWh. The e-Golf now has more power at 136 hp. But crucially the range was boosted to 230 km when measured on the new WLTP. And in real world driving, range is not far off that with between 200 and 220 km, depending on driving style, weather conditions and the use of the fans and air conditioning.
On the outside the only clues to the electric powertrain underneath are some subtle e-Golf badges, unique front C-shaped LED daytime running lights, and a set of aerodynamic 16” ‘Astana’ alloy wheels. A blue signature trim line also runs across the grille and into the headlights. Other than that the e-Golf is the sharp dresser that looks good just about anywhere.
Inside, the e-Golf has a perfectly appointed cabin with dials, switches and screens in all the right places, just like the rest of the Golf range. It’s very easy to slot yourself from a Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI to the e-Golf for example, because the controls are mostly the same. The driver’s instrument panel displays a few different gauges for the EV system, but even these are displayed in a rather conventional way. For example where you might see the level of your fuel tank is now a display of how much ‘juice’ you have left in your battery.
In practical terms, the interior space of the e-Golf remains unchanged as a standard five door family hatchback. However boot volume is down from 380 to 341 litres.
Pricing and Equipment
Equipment levels are good. Volkswagen Ireland offers the e-Golf in Ireland in two trims: an entry e-Golf priced from €35,995 including government incentives and a more salubrious Executive Edition priced from €39,495.
The glossy 9.2” Discover Pro navigation system with clear glass touchscreen comes as standard. Other highlights include adaptive cruise control, front assist with pedestrian monitoring, rear parking sensors, and dual zone climate control.
The Executive edition adds 17-inch ‘Madrid’ alloy wheels, LED tail lights with running indicators, a full leather interior with sports comfort seats in front, Active Info Display, rear view camera, heated front seats, tinted rear windows and keyless access.
Driving the Volkswagen e-Golf
On the road, the e-Golf is a slick mover. The cabin ambience is quiet and serene around town but even on the motorway, the e-Golf is a very polished electric vehicle with excellent refinement. The steering and handling is also fluid and precise, so it feels as if the e-Golf owner sacrifices very little in terms of the natural dynamic character of the Golf.
Really your main concern when buying the e-Golf is the range of 200km to 220km and does that make it suitable for your lifestyle? The e-Golf is at its best on those round trips that fall comfortably within the car’s range, or where you can reliably charge at both ends of your journey. At motorway speeds, battery power will dwindle more quickly.
There are three driving modes to the Volkswagen Golf – Normal, Eco and Eco+ – which do effect how much you can get out of a single charge. There is also a ‘B’ mode that can be engaged from the gearbox , which quite aggressively brakes the car when you lift off the accelerator, to recuperate energy.
Through the touchscreen you can find the nearest charge points easily. When the e-Golf needs charging the battery can go from empty to 80 per cent full in just 45 minutes when a 40 kW DC rapid charger connection is used.
During a week with the e-Golf, local trips were not a problem but I did encounter some issues on longer journeys when I needed to use the public charge points to top up my range to get home comfortably. I encountered frustrations such as faulty chargers, queues at chargers and non-EVs blocking access.
There are numerous incentives and advantages to owning an electric vehicle in Ireland right now. The current generation of the Volkswagen e-Golf with its real world range of roughly 200-220 km is now being outrun by a number of competitors like the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona Electric. They are different vehicles but range has to be a number one concern for most drivers.
But if you can work with the e-Golf’s range in your daily life, then the quality, refinement and class of the e-Golf offering just feels unrivalled right now in the EV space.
Model tested: Volkswagen e-Golf
Price: From €35,995 with government incentives
Battery: 35.8 kW
Power: 136 hp
Torque: 290 Nm
0-100km/h: 9.6 seconds
Top speed: 150 km/h
Range: 230km (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Motor tax: €120 per year