People who prefer consistency over radical new ideas love the Volkswagen Golf, and the electric version certainly won’t disappoint them, because it’s a Golf. No less, no more. That turned out to be its greatest strength and its greatest weakness at the same time.
I have driven all sorts of Golfs in the last two years including the 1.2 base model with a five-speed, the GTI with a six-speed and the GTD with the DSG automatic. There’s nothing wrong with any of them. They are all Golfs after all, which means they are utterly boring— I mean, were designed to be the perfect tools for taking you and your family from Point A to Point B and any other Points you might want to check out.
The e-Golf will only take you and your family to Points that are no further than about 90 real world miles. Other than that, it works just like any other Golf, which is almost magical.
We’re talking about a 3,391 pound hatchback here with just 115 horsepower on tap, but the peak torque of 199 lb-ft (not 200!) and clever packaging help move the car so swiftly you’ll think the extra 688 pounds from the battery pack aren’t even there.
I’m a huge fan of zero emission sprints in city traffic, and while the e-Golf is nowhere near as quick and torquey as the rear-wheel drive BMW i3, it’s still a very efficient stop and go fighter.
No heads will explode from electrifying excitement after jumping inside the cabin, but at least the needle can move into the negatives when you’re regenerating. It’s pretty much the only funky thing you can play with on the move. That, and maybe body heat management, because once you switch on the air conditioning, your range will drop a slightly terrifying 20 miles or so, instantly.
As you all know, electric cars are green but electricity itself is blue, so Volkswagen used blue stitching and trim both inside and out to make the e-Golf distinguishable from the rest of the Golfs out there. Modestly.
Of course the eagle-eyed car enthusiast will see that the car lacks an exhaust pipe and has a different bumper as well, but since the e-Golf runs on regular fuel-saver Continentals instead of anything crazy like the VW XL1’s 115/80 R15 skinny tires, the rest of the public will never know how active you’re at saving the planet.
They won’t hear it, either.
The other day, I almost stepped in front of a Tesla Model S85D because it was rolling so silently, and the e-Golf is the same story. While the i3 produces some sort of Jetsons noise to make sure you know the future has just passed you, the e-Golf is the quietest car around with an engine revving to 12,000rpm.
On the move, you have three driving moves to choose from. Eco+ limits your top speed and turns the car into a block of lead. You don’t want that. Eco is better, but unless you’re really low on juice, just keep it in Normal and play around with the gearbox instead.
There are three levels of regenerative braking to choose from, and they can be activated by moving the shifter sideways. The weakest setting is pretty much pointless, the middle one works on the road while in heavy traffic, feel free to unleash the most hardcore electric braking you got. It will return a few extra miles if you’re good at this game.
The only thing I don’t understand is why the generator won’t stop the car completely. Even turned to level three, the regeneration stops at around 3 mph, which means that unlike the i3, the e-Golf can not be driven by just one pedal. You need to use the regular brakes all the time. That’s weird.
Why do I compare poor Golf continuously to BMW’s bamboo-hugging carbon fiber city car? Mostly because on this side of the planet, it costs the same money. Seriously. Since it’s impossible to get your money back in fuel savings over a regular TDI Golf, I doubt there are many buyers.
Then again, the i3’s design is straight out bonkers compared to this blue monument of automotive conservatism, and since the Tesla Model S sits at a very different price range, there must be those who are looking for an electric car with a static personality. One that seems to be everyone’s cup of tea. A Golf.
I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Don’t worry, the next round should be better.
Photo credit: Máté Petrány/Jalopnik
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