2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Review

A Seamless Transition from Gas to Electric

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Review

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.

FAST FACTS

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Pitches e-Golf to Green Crowd with Carbon Credits

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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.

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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.

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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 Verdict

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.

LOVE IT
  • Comfort
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Great suspension setup
  • No interior compromises
LEAVE IT
  • Range
  • Price

  • Rickers

    Compliance car… no one cares.

  • Freddy

    I’m glad to hear about the brakes. The brakes in the Jetta Hybrid are just terrible.

  • Mike Schlee

    I completely agree

  • Mike Schlee

    Yup, which is unfortunate

  • Jerry Baustian

    This would be fine if you live or work in a city where internal-combustion vehicles are banned or heavily taxed. So far there are no cities in North America where that has happened. Thus I will, most likely never see an e-Golf on the road. TDIs are everywhere, though.

  • Rob Jones

    Sounds good till you see the sticker price. You will never get the difference back between the regular car and this ev through fuel costs. Especially when the gasoline price is dropping because the USA is about to become the world leader in petroleum production. You will kick yourself every time you want to go more than 100 miles. That is 50 miles out and 50 miles back. Starting to sound awful, granted. But to tip a hat to the effort vw is making a nice little short run car.

  • Leo G

    I live in Los Angeles and commute approximately twenty five miles a day. I currently lease a Fiat 500e for my significant other. Terms on that car were $1500 down and $230 dollars a month for 36 months. That doesn’t include the $2500 dollars the state rebates you. So, doing the math…that’s $7,280 for three years. The electric bill works out to an equivalent of 80 cents a gallon of gas. My other car is a very comfortable Volvo S60. Guess which one I prefer to drive every chance I get? Driving an electric car in urban traffic is a complete joy – faster off the stop light than 90% of cars around. Never having to go to the crowded, chaotic gas station is a gift. I never expected to like the car half as much as a I do. Try one. If you live in CA? You can automatically knock 10 grand off the sticker, by the way. And Fiat gives you twelve days a year of free rental car if you want to take a longer trip.

  • mystixa

    Nicely you don’t have to rely on fuel costs to make the savings. It doesn’t matter if we ramp up our oil production to world leader status. Its a world market now, and once our price dips another country buys up that supply, it doesn’t make it cheaper at the local station. Alaska has been a lead producer of oil in the u.s. for decades and fuel is pricey as hell up there.

    Looking past that, lets look at all the other savings you will get compared to a gas or diesel VW. Oil changes every 3/5/10k miles (depending on which religion you favor). ..and no cheap dinos here, any turbo VW or diesel requires full synthetic. ..and if you cheap out you get a nice $1500 repair bill after a few years. Doing it yourself you’re looking at $40 a pop, and about 3 per year.

    Timing belt.. lovely things Required changing every 70k miles. $800-$1500 depending on ho well you know your mechanic. Tranny fluid, or manual tranny oil, can’t forget that at about $50 per year. (Single speed tranny will mean no junk from bad gear changes.) Airfilters about 30 per year. Spark plugs.. and on and on.

    You;re not just trading out the gas. Your trading out the entire support system we have built around the i.c.e.

  • Rob Jones

    You know when you brake the braking battery regeneration kicks in then push harder and you sould get the friction brakes. It maybe it needs adjustment by the dealer. :)

  • Rob Jones

    I guess you want to keep this car til the wheels fall off then? If that is true then there is a big problem, tipically batteries do ware out, and the electronics must be fixed. After the warranty you could be hit with a huge bill from a foreign car maker, usually they love to charge even more than buick. I don’t think your being realistic here mystixa the whole world isn’t going to change over night tee hehe :0)

  • Steve

    I bought an e-Golf and regret it. Don’t buy it. You have to pay a $199 annual fee to do delayed charging (charge overnight when electricity rates are lower). I was told delayed charging was available from the console, but after the sale was informed it’s only available through Car-Net (first 6 months free, maybe 3 years free, $199 annual fee thereafter). And it doesn’t work. And Car-Net in general is awful. And the navigation is bad and the radio comes on to random stations when starting the car. And no one at Volkswagen knows anything about the car, so problems go unfixed.

    The car has good range and the regenerative braking is great. But so much about owning it has been a series of headaches.
    I love electric cars, I own a 2002 RAV4 EV with over 170,000 miles on it. But I hate my e-Golf.

  • Patrick Hughes

    Fuel is $20,000+ for the life of a vehicle. Then you have to consider that powertrain maintenance is far cheaper, even if batteries have to be replaced at 100k. Given the pace of battery research, there will likely be nanometamaterial batteries on the market with nearly an order of magnitude all metric performance improvement at the same price in another few years…so you would likely have one hell of an upgrade when the batteries do need to be swapped. Keep in mind that pollution has an actualized cost that isn’t factored into fuel price, a cost which will have to be repaid by someone, at some point…likely sooner than later. But of course, that’s not your responsibility, thus the timeless economic problem of the commons.

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