Manufacturers such as BMW and Nissan started from scratch with their own electric hatchbacks (the i3 and Leaf respectively), but Volkswagen has chosen the path of familiarity by incorporating an electric motor into the versatile platform of the current Golf. You would expect, therefore, that the resultant e-Golf drives like a regular Golf powered by good old fossil fuel, but there are noticeable differences.
First off is the noise, or more accurately, the lack of it. The Golf is already a very refined car thanks to its excellent sound-proofing, and when this refinement is coupled with the eerie interior silence of an electric car on the move, it never fails to fascinate.
Another characteristic of electric cars is how quickly they accelerate, and the e-Golf displays the same behaviour. With a power output of 85kW (equivalent to 115bhp), the e-Golf is 25bhp down and also around 200kg heavier than the petrol 1.4-litre TSI Golf Sport, but because the e-Golf’s torque figure is higher (270Nm compared to 250Nm) and readily available from a virtual standstill, it’s almost GTI-like off the line.
Volkswagen claims zero-to-60km/h in 4.2 seconds and zero-to-100km/h in 10.4 seconds, but the e-Golf feels far more eager from behind the wheel, because of how its electric motive power is delivered. This Golf is also a little more nimble than its non-electric siblings, seeing how its 318kg battery pack is located right smack below the floorboard, in between the front and rear axles.
Range is vital with electric cars, and the e-Golf can travel up to 190 kilometres before it runs out of juice. In the real world, however, such as the urban roads in Berlin, expect that figure to drop slightly – unless you don’t mind driving without the air-con activated, which would help achieve that theoretical 190km range.
It also comes with three driving modes that enable drivers to get the most out of every battery charge. In Normal mode, you get maximum power and torque at your disposal, plus a 140km/h top speed. Eco mode cuts the figures to 70kW (94bhp) and 220Nm, and caps the top speed at 115km/h. For those moments when you’re running on empty in the e-Golf, there’s an Eco+ mode that reduces the power further to 74bhp and 175Nm, and slashes the top speed to 90km/h. These measures should get you to your destination or recharging point without the help of a tow truck.
In addition to the three driving modes, the car’s range can also be affected by the five different levels of regenerative braking. Engaging “D” with the transmission lever completely disables the regenerative braking, while “D1”, “D2” and “D3” make the braking force progressively stronger, with “B” providing the strongest braking effect.
Regenerative braking converts kinetic forces back to electrical energy for the batteries. Depending on the situation, it’s possible to depend on regenerative braking alone to slow the car down in start/stop traffic conditions. But some throttle finesse, especially in “B” mode, is needed to avoid making occupants feel nauseous, given the vigorous braking and accelerative forces of the vehicle.
It takes 13 hours to fully charge the e-Golf from a typical wall plug, and around eight hours if you use the dedicated VW wallbox. In Europe, e-Golf owners can charge their cars at designated CCS (combined charging system) stations, which can “refill” the cars’ energy capacity up to 80 percent in 30 minutes.
Volkswagen Singapore says the e-Golf will arrive here by Christmas, but whether the car will be made available to customers, and not just under some test-bedding scheme, is still unknown at this point.
ENGINE Permanent synchronous electric motor
MAX POWER 115bhp (85kW)
MAX TORQUE 270Nm
0-100KM/H 10.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 140km/h
CONSUMPTION Not applicable
CO2 EMISSION Not applicable
PRICE INCL. COE
TO BE ANNOUNCED