We drive the updated electric hatchback on Irish roads
Pros: Well equipped, improved range, powerful drive
Cons: Range varies, expensive
The battle for increased range among electric car manufacturers rages on. Many electric cars can now cover longer distances than ever before, which is a great thing for those considering making the switch to electric power. The new Volkswagen e-Golf is one such example, as its power has been boosted while battery range has grown to a claimed 300 kilometres, and it gets further interior and exterior updates in line with the rest of the Golf range. We tested the e-Golf on Irish roads to see how it compares against a new breed of rivals including the Hyundai iONIQ, BMW i3, Renault’s ZOE and Ireland’s best-selling electric car, the Nissan LEAF.
What is it like?
Some electric cars are futuristically-styled and stand out from crowd, but Volkswagen has taken a different approach with the e-Golf. It’s hard to distinguish the e-Golf from the rest of the Golf range, though small details hint at its electric genes, such as e-Golf badges on the grille and tailgate, e-Design LED daytime running lights, a blue strip along the front grille and and aerodynamic 16-inch alloy wheels. It has also gained other styling changes as part of the latest Golf model range update including scrolling LED indicators at the rear.
Highly-specced Golfs are fitted with Volkswagen’s vibrant 12.3-inch Active Info display and the slick new 9.2-inch infotainment touch screen, but the keenly-priced e-Golf gets these features as standard. Everything else is standard Golf fare, with sturdy cabin materials and space to seat four adults comfortably, although boot size has been reduced to 341 litres to accommodate the electric motor’s batteries. The Active Info display proves very useful for keeping track of things like range, navigation and battery usage at a quick glance.
The e-Golf’s electric motor is more powerful than before and produces the equivalent of 134hp, with further torque gains. It is sprightlier to drive than before, with a 0-100km/h time of 9.6 seconds and an eventual top speed of 150km/h. The automatic transmission is easy to use with a B function for extra braking to recharge the batteries. There is a mode button to select different driving modes such as Eco Pro, which disables power-draining features like air-conditioning, while Normal mode allows all functions and delivers maximum power outage. The e-Golf is also one of the most economical EVs, with 12.7 kwh/100 kilometres the claimed figures from Volkswagen.
When fully charged, Volkswagen claims a potential range of up to 300 kilometres, but we could only achieve 200 kilometres during the wintry conditions of our test drive. Annual motor tax is €120 due to the zero emissions output. The e-Golf is very pleasant to drive around town and even on the motorway too. It gathers momentum smoothly and swiftly, although it is all too easy to sacrifice on range. The suspension remains unchanged so it rides very much like before, with smooth ride quality and relatively composed handling, taking into account the added weight of the batteries and electric motor.
After applying savings from the SEAI electric vehicle grant scheme, it costs around €35,000 to get in to the new e-Golf. That means it’s considerably more expensive than its rivals such as the latest Renault ZOE and Nissan LEAF, however it undercuts the BMW i3 (circa €37k). The e-Golf is very well-equipped when you look at features such as the LED headlights, infotainment system and Active Info Display, and it has a premium feel and finish that most other cars in the class can't match. The all-new Nissan LEAF is due to arrive in Ireland early in 2018 and it will ultimately be an enticing proposition for buyers however.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
There’s no doubt about it, the new Volkswagen e-Golf is much-improved and it will be an enticing option for new and existing electric car drivers, thanks to its extended range, improved drive and excellent levels of standard equipment. It is expensive however, and it is almost impossible to achieve the claimed range of 300 kilometres in real world Irish driving conditions. In a class which is limited in choice to only a handful of models however, the e-Golf stands out as one of the most refined options and if you can justify the extra outlay, it will prove a worthy investment.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volkswagen e-Golf
Prices from: €45,350 (excluding government grant)
Annual Road Tax: €120
Top Speed: 150km/h
0-100km/h: 9.6 seconds
Body style: Five-door hatchback
Boot Space: 341 litres