Volkswagen is climbing aboard the EV (electric vehicle) train with the introduction of the 2015 e-Golf. On sale for several months now in Europe, America will get its first taste of the production version of the all-electric Golf this November when it hits dealers in a few select EV friendly markets.
|Engine: Electric Motor with 115 HP and 199 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Single-speed direct drive automatic.
Fuel economy: 105 MPGe.
Price: 2015 Volkswagen s-Golf SEL Premium starts at $36,265 after destination charges.
As the name implies, the e-Golf ditches the regular Golf’s assortment of gasoline and diesel engines for an electric motor. Developing 115 HP and 199 lb-ft of torque, the e-Golf is the least powerful version of the Volkswagen hatchback, but does make the second most amount of torque. Power is still fed to the front wheels, but now through a single-speed, direct-drive automatic transmission.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Review
Volkswagen claims the electric Golf can achieve a 0-60 MPH sprint in just over 10 seconds, with a top speed of 87 mph. That is slower than the 1.8T or 2.0 TDI Golf, but still plenty quick for an EV or dedicated Hybrid. Like a lot of EVs, the Golf feels much quicker than it is thanks to all that instant torque. Step on the throttle hard and there is a noticeable kick as all 199 lb-ft of torque suddenly thrust the car forward. Power does taper off as the motor’s rpms build, but acceleration up to highway speeds is more than acceptable.
Smooth, Linear Power
When not setting 0-60 MPH times, power delivery is linear and smooth. This is not an EV that drives like the accelerator pedal is connected to an on/off switch. Throttle modulation directly reflects power deliver. There are no peaks, valleys or hesitations from driver input to motor response.
Co-developed with Panasonic, the e-Golf’s battery is said to fully recharge in roughly 20 hours using a standard 110-volt household outlet. Install a 240-volt charging “wallbox” and charge times drop to less than four hours. For chagrining on the run, the e-Golf is able to use SAE standard DC fast chargers that can recharge the battery pack to 80 percent in approximately 30 minutes.
Three Modes of Efficiency
Once charged up, the e-Golf should be good for 70-90 miles of range or the equivalent of 105 MPGe, depending on driving style. For those who want to maximize their range, there are two driving modes tailored for efficiency. Rather than just limit throttle and reduce power-draw from the HVAC system, these two modes significantly alter the e-Golf’s performance.
In “Eco” mode, power is reduced to 94 horsepower and 162 lb-ft, of torque. Top speed is now only 72 mph and 0-60 MPH times drop to roughly 13 seconds. Take things a step further to “Eco+” mode and power drops further to 74 hp and 129 lb-ft, with the top speed now just 56 mph. Experimenting with the different modes, we could definitely feel a near debilitating power reduction in Eco+ mode, but found Eco mode is still usable for normal driving.
For those who do have range anxiety, if the e-Golf runs out of juice within 100 miles of an owner’s home, Volkswagen will pick the car up, drop it off at a charger and pay to get the owner home – no questions asked. Talk about customer service!
Smooth, smooth brakes
The regenerative braking system is available with three levels of force; D1, D2, and D3. Volkswagen has really nailed the braking dynamics of this EV. In D1, the least aggressive regenerative braking set-up, they behave like any regular car’s brakes. There isn’t that initial overly aggressive brake-bite that plagues some other EV/hybrids and braking force directly reflects the amount of pressure being applied to the pedal. Even D3, which is very aggressive at slowing the car down, it’s still progressive and not jerky.
Complementing the great brakes is quite possibly the best feature of the e-Golf, the suspension. The e-Golf rides very smoothly, is composed on undulating surfaces and absorbs bumps. It’s better sorted out from a ride comfort standpoint than the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus EV, most likely due to the great 2015 Golf architecture.
To keep the e-Golf as versatile as its fuel burning siblings, Volkswagen fit the battery pack wholly within the chassis architecture of the car. This means passenger space is not affected at all. Just like regular Golfs, the e-Golf offers rear seat passengers 35.6-inches of legroom and can swallow 22.8 cubic feet of cargo behind the back seats.
Subtle Changes, Mature Looks
The rest of the car’s interior is similar to other Golfs, minus a few details. The tachometer has been replaced by a power usage display that includes battery life and available power output. Blue accented trim is found throughout the cabin including the stitching on the seats, steering wheel and shifter.
The e-Golf comes in only one trim, SEL Premium, starting at $36,265 after destination charges. That price includes items like touchscreen navigation, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and LED headlights.
This marks the first application of LED headlights for a Volkswagen product in North America. The rest of the e-Golf’s exterior features a few subtle revisions such as C-shaped LED daytime running lights in the front bumper, blue accents in the grille and headlights, unique badges and flush16-inch aluminum wheels. The overall look doesn’t go overboard and scream to the world “I’m an electric car” the way some others do. We like the mature styling of the e-Golf and hope it’s a trend for future EVs.
The e-Golf does a great job impersonating a regular Golf. It feels like driving a Golf TDI, minus the diesel noise. . . or driving range. The differences from the diesel Golf TDI to this electric version aren’t any further apart than the differences between a gasoline Golf 1.8T and the TDI. Volkswagen set out to build a Golf EV that didn’t compromise at all from the core values of the model and succeeded, minus the unavoidable limitations in driving range. It’s unfortunate so few will ever get to experience this limited availability, niche vehicle.