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Review: Volkswagen e-Golf: The People’s Electric Car

Initially released as a 2015 model, the pure electric Volkswagen E-Golf is VW’s first production electric vehicle. The new 2017 VW e-Golf, in SE and SEL trim levels, represents the next generation of this important vehicle. In the wake of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate debacle and overnight conversion to the benefits of an electrified future, the e-Golf is both a snapshot of where VW is now and a glimpse of where it might be headed in the future.

NOTE: THE US VW WEBSITE STILL LISTS THE 0LDER 85-MILE RANGE MODEL AS THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE!

We checked several dealers in Southern California and they still have lots of the 2016 models (w/85-mile range) on hand and there are no 2017s for sale! It looks like they can’t sell the 2016s and won’t send the new ones until they do!

The e-Golf will be available only at participating VW dealers in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C.

Additional Info on the VW site

Key Specifications

  • Make: Volkswagen
  • Model: e-Golf
  • First available: January 2015
  • Next Upgrade: July 2017
  • Electric/Hybrid: Electric
  • Seats: 5
  • Acceleration to 100km/h (60mph): 9.6s
  • Range: 93 miles
  • Price: $21,485

Range & Battery

  • Battery options

    lithium-ion battery has an energy capacity of 35.8 kWh, up from the 24.2 kWh of the previous version

    MPGe RATINGS:

    126 City/ 105 Highway

  • Charge time

    • 7.2 kWh onboard charger full charge in under 6 hours at a standard charging station
    • DC fast charging function in use (standard on SEL trim and optional on SE), an 80 percent charge takes around 1 hour

Innovation & Self-driving

  • VW Car-Net® App-Connect lets you access your compatible smartphone’s music, maps, messaging, and more on your dash using Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™, or MirrorLink®

Connectivity:

  • For 2018: Digital Cockpit system includes a 9.2” display and 12.3”digital instrument panel display, plus gesture control. For more Info click HERE.
  • 8″ touchscreen navigation system with proximity sensor, DVD/video playback, SD memory card reader, and voice control
  • VW Car-Net App-Connect can be used with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or MirrorLink, also lets you check the battery level, schedule and activate charging, remotely adjust climate control, and see driving data.

Changes for 2018:

  • Longer range model predicted (186 miles on Euro cycle). For more info click HERE

More Range And More Power

As battery technology has improved and the cost has come down, Volkswagen has upgraded the e-Golf’s range. Its new lithium-ion battery has an energy capacity of 35.8 kWh, up from the 24.2 kWh of the previous version. This improves the e-Golf’s range by around 50 percent, resulting in a range of 124 miles on a single charge. Its standard 7.2 kWh onboard charger allows a full charge in under six hours at a standard charging station. With its DC fast charging function in use (standard on SEL trim and optional on SE), an 80 percent charge can be achieved in an hour or less.

The e-Golf’s electric motor has also seen an upgrade, in both horsepower and torque. It now puts out 134 horsepower (up from 115) and 214 lb.-ft. (up from 199) through a single-speed transmission. The 2017 E-Golf will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds, with a top speed of 93 mph.

Connectivity And Active Safety Systems

The 2017 e-Golf is available with what VW calls the Digital Cockpit. This optional system is built around a multi-configurable 12.3-inch color screen in front of the driver. Instruments including speedometer and power meter can be viewed in varying sizes. Entertainment, navigation, and phone functions can also be controlled.

Another option is a Discover Pro infotainment system with 9.2-inch configurable central display. Gesture control, to be added later, will allow hand swipe gestures to control the system’s menus and functions. The VW Car-Net phone app allows remote access for battery charging and pre-cooling the vehicle. Car-Net App-Connect offers Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ integration, but no in-vehicle wi-fi is offered.

Many driver assistance systems will be available in the 2017 e-Golf. An option package available on SEL Premium includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Assist and Park Assist.

Driving The e-Golf

The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf starts with the inherent driving goodness of the VW Golf it is based on. The Golf’s excellent driving qualities remain intact, coupled with that instant electric response from the moment you touch the accelerator. There are no sacrifices to be made in terms of room inside, with the battery pack placed under the seats, lowering the center of gravity even more for great handling and stability. Three regenerative braking modes let you extend your range by recapturing energy.

Is The e-Golf Enough To Save VW?

The 2017 VW e-Golf is an excellent example of how good an electric car based on a combustion-engined car can be. But in a world where the Chevrolet Bolt is on sale with an all-electric range of 238 miles at a similar price point, the new e-Golf already comes up short with its 124 miles of range. Volkswagen has some significant work to do in this area if it expects to lead us into the electrified future!

2 User Reviews on “Volkswagen e-Golf: The People’s Electric Car”

  1. brad
    Volkswagen ought to catch up
    Reviewed
    - Other

    It seems like Volkswagen is heading in a more electric direction, in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal.
    The Volkswagen E-Golf is very much built to be the people’s electric car.

    I could surely see a lot of these cars in the near future, as houses and cities will have tons more facilities for electric powered vehicles.

    Though my verdict is, there’s nothing to freak over just yet, and I would personally look elsewhere. The Tesla Model 3 will be coming out at a price point of $35,000, just a few thousand dollars more, and in all respects a far more superior car.

    In terms of speed, the E-Golf is super slow. For an electric city car, top speed isn’t so much of a concern as acceleration. I want it to get around quicker. It does have instantaneous power delivery, but 9.6s to get to 60mph isn’t fast. I had a chance to witness the world’s first E-Touring Car race taking place in Hong Kong, where the whole grid raced with the VW E-Golf. Even watching the race spec car trying to go as fast as it can, didn’t get me excited that much.

    Speed surely wouldn’t be the main reason to buy this car, but when considering the range. A max range of 124 miles means you’re going to be constantly worried about monitoring electricity consumption.

    And yes while electric vehicles surely does reduce pollution levels in cities. Electric power often comes from power plants at the end of the day. That’s why I’d much rather consider the Golf GTE, which gets you up to 580 miles. The difference in range is too great to not consider another car altogether.

    On the bright side, I will say that it is far more hi-tech than I was expecting. With automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, parking assist sensors and a touch screen interface.

    All in all, a very useful car for novice or less skilled drivers who only need to do short trips around town.

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  2. StephenSD
    2016 Volkswagen e-Golf Test Drive: Nice, But Not Good Enough
    Reviewed
    2016 VW e-Golf SE - I have test driven this car

    by Stephen Fogel

    I recently drove a new 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE model at my local VW dealer. The 2017 models with the larger battery and more powerful motor had not yet arrived. This review is about the older model, which can still be found new at VW dealers.

    A Nice Package
    One of the best things about the e-Golf is the fact that it is built on the Golf platform. It is a well-designed package that provides excellent room, ride and handling. If you must have that German feel, the e-Golf will deliver it. The doors shut solidly and the seats are firm.

    The e-Golf has a power/economy gauge where the tachometer would normally be. The needle sits at the zero position until you start moving. Acceleration moves it to the blue zone on the right, which means that you are using up your charge. Braking (which uses the regen) moves it left into the green, which means you are putting power back into the battery. A Miles Remaining gauge lets you watch how fast you are using up your charge. Estimated range on this older model is only 83 miles!

    There is an extra “B” setting on the transmission shifter, which activates additional regen anytime you lift off the gas. This was noticeable, but nowhere near as strong as in the Chevrolet Bolt or BMW i3, both of which let you drive without using the brakes in most conditions.

    Nice To Drive
    Driving the e-Golf was a pleasure. Visibility was excellent and the car felt solid and secure. Acceleration, even in this lower-powered version, was punchy, throwing you back in your seat when accelerating from rest or at low speeds. But the power seemed to taper off at medium to high speeds, where it felt adequate instead of speedy. This is likely what led to the upgrade to a higher-output motor in the 2017 models. The earlier version of the e-Golf falls behind the competition here.

    Upgraded To The B Team
    Even with the 2017 upgrades, the e-Golf still only offers 125 miles on a charge. Viewed against its competition, this is a necessary step just to keep the e-Golf competitive in the second tier. The BMW i3 has just received a similar upgrade, and the newly announced Hyundai Ioniq Electric has entered the market with about the same range. There are now several battery electric cars with ranges of around 125 miles.

    The Real Competition Is At 200+ Miles
    Overshadowing them all is the Chevrolet Bolt with a 238-mile range, on sale now. The Tesla Model 3 will also offer over 200 miles of range, and is planned to go into full production later this year. An all-new Nissan Leaf with more range is also coming next year.

    The Bolt Effect
    The VW dealer had a used e-Golf on the lot. It had recently been traded in on a new Chevrolet Bolt at the Chevy dealer across the street (both dealerships have the same owner). The effect of the Bolt’s extended range is already being felt by the other electric carmakers!

    VW must step up its game. For electric cars, range is the new horsepower!

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