Volkswagen e-Golf: Test Drive Review
22 July 2014
Author: Tristan Young
Pure electric cars are still only sold in small volumes. However, when one of fleet's favourite vehicles - the Volkswagen Golf - goes electric, you have to sit up and take notice.
Expected to sell in the hundreds, rather than thousands, but mainly to fleets, the e-Golf is just like a regular Golf, but rather than fill it up with petrol or diesel, you plug it in to charge it up.
A full charge takes eight to 13 hours, depending on the type of plug-in point, and will carry the e-Golf up to 118 miles, which is broadly similar to the range of rival full EVs.
Like other EVs, the refinement and low fuel costs are the main attraction. VW estimates 100
miles will cost less than £3 in electricity, and the equivalent energy use in a diesel would mean better than 200mpg.
The other attraction for business users is the zero rating for benefit-in-kind taxation for the next couple of years at least, which further helps lower whole-life costs.
The e-Golf is also near silent and spritely up to 30mph, like other EVs, even though the top speed isn't particularly high at 87mph.
Where it is different from its rivals is that it is a bit more complicated to drive. Rather than simply offer one or two (or even three) driving modes, Volkswagen's engineers have supplied five levels of regenerative braking to recapture increasing levels of charge when you lift off the accelerator.
There are also three 'eco' modes for the motor. These modes take the electric motor from a maximum of 115hp in 'normal' through to 95hp (and a 74mph top speed) in 'eco'.
If you activate 'eco+' these figures drop even further, to 75hp and 56mph, not to mention having to do without aircon, but at this point you are most likely to achieve the claimed maximum range. Having this many modes can lead to confusion, and it's simplest to find a favourite and stick with it. Do this and once again you're back to a refreshingly normal and Golf-like driving experience.
The e-Golf range, however, is much less complicated. There's only one trim level and it's based on SE, but adds satnav, which also links to an app so you can either pre-heat or pre-cool the car, see where you parked it or monitor your charging.
Combine all these points with a residual value that is as impressive as other Golf models, a boot that's almost exactly the same size as the regular Golf, and the e-Golf is significantly ahead of its main rival, and until now class leader, the Nissan Leaf.
For businesses looking for an EV option, the Golf has just become the car of choice.