2018 Volkswagen e-Golf Review - Electric Golf Buggy

 

The best attribute about VW’s new fully electric Golf is that apart from a few minor design cues it looks like any other member of Volkswagen’s Golf family.

Words: Robert Barry   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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Not everyone who buys an electric car wants it to scream “I’m an EV” to the world, as does the entire Tesla range, the Hyundai Ioniq, and the BMW i3/i8.

No, the e-Golf is more the discreet environmental warrior and that’s fine by us because it goes about its business with whisper quiet efficiency and sometimes, in the case of miscreant pedestrians, almost too quietly. The only noise you hear at speed is the occasional hum from the tyres on the tarmac.

the $62,990 question on every buyer’s mind is how far will a fully charged battery take you?

It’s distinguished from its conventional Golf siblings by a badge and the blue swage line running between the headlights, akin to the go-fast red treatment on the GTI. The ‘C’ shaped LED daytime running lights and the flat-faced 16-inch Astana alloy wheels shod with low rolling resistance rubber are the unique features of the e-Golf.

Volkswagen New Zealand retailed 23 e-Golfs in January and while the car is in heavy demand globally, local GM, Tom Ruddenklau says there is more than enough stock in the supply pipeline to keep local dealers and buyers happy. But the $62,990 question on every buyer’s mind is how far will a fully charged battery take you?


Using Vector fast-chargers dotted around Auckland we managed to get the e-Golf fully replenished to an indicated range of 299 km, but once we’d pulled away from the fizzing stations, this figure normally dropped quite quickly to 280 or 275 km.

Turning on the air-conditioning also tended to see range diminish but not as quickly as we experienced with the Ioniq electric. Instead of using the air conditioning to clear the windscreen in the morning or during rain, the e-Golf has a heated windscreen which is quicker and less power hungry.

However, to operate this you have to open the air-conditioning menu in the centre touchscreen and press the faux button. Why a three-step touchscreen process for the windscreen demist function when there’s a regular button for the rear heated screen?

A road trip from Auckland to Hamilton gave us a better insight into the e-Golf’s range and ability. We left Mount Roskill with about 250km of range showing and arrived at the WEL charging station in Te Rapa two and half hours later with 122km of range left. The actual distance according to Google Maps was 112km but the e-Golf had consumed 128km worth of range - we put that down to several things like topography and weather.

The earth is not flat and nor is the state highway from Auckland to Hamilton which means although the e-Golf has a great regenerative ability it used more energy than it saved. During this road trip the weather was horrid, with heavy rain and high humidity so the AC was hard at work keeping us comfortable, and the windscreen and windows clear. A 30-minute fast charge at WEL took the car from half full to 100 per cent and brought the range back up to 298km.

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There are three drive modes, Normal, Eco, and Eco+, the latter to preserve battery range. Normal allows full acceleration capacity from zero to 100km/h in 9.6 seconds (we managed 9.2 sec). Full power output is 100kW and e-Golf will top out at 150km/h if you’re at a track.

Eco extends 0-100 acceleration to 13 secs, and blunts peak output to 70kW, while top speed is limited to 115km/h. Eco+ puts the screws on further to 19 secs, 40kW, and 90 km/h. For the bulk of our test we ran the car in Normal mode, with the odd motorway foray into Eco to preserve power. Using the automated cruise control system for longer runs was also a good strategy to eke out added range.

The e-Golf has the same design and high quality fit and finish cabinside as its fueled siblings, the sole extra cost option on this car being Vienna leather upholstery with heating function for the front seats, at $3500. A portable 3.6kW charger with a three-pin plug for domestic/emergency use comes as standard, stored neatly in the boot in its own travel bag. Volkswagen says it will take nearly 11 hours to charge the car to 100 per cent using this method.

For convenience and economy, most buyers will surely opt to install a 7.3kW wall charger inside their garage or externally where the car is parked overnight.

Our first trip down Electric Avenue with the e-Golf was an enjoyable experience and points to a bright future for the eventual electrification of the New Zealand national fleet.

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