After a night charging up in the garage, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf’s display showed 108 miles of range when I pushed the start button. After slogging through San Francisco traffic then running down a rain-soaked freeway at 60 mph, covering 12 miles, the range figure was down to 82 miles, suggesting my real-world range from the garage had been 94 miles.
Still, it was considerably better than the EPA range of 83 miles for the e-Golf and illustrated the vagaries of electric car range estimates.
The e-Golf is Volkswagen’s entry into the electric car game, and incidentally broadens the Golf range beyond its gasoline and diesel offerings. As with other electric cars on the market, it could be considered a “compliance car,” necessary to meet zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales requirements in seven US states that have adopted the ZEV mandate. Despite its limited range, however, I found nothing in the e-Golf to suggest it’s anything less than a fully realized car.
Some of the e-Golf’s quality driving feel comes down to the base Golf model. Getting a major update for the 2015 model year, the new Golf is built on Volkswagen’s MQB platform, a modular chassis designed to handle a variety of drivetrains. The Golf GTI hot hatch and Golf TDI diesel share that platform and the basic Golf hatchback body with the e-Golf.
For the e-Golf, Volkswagen leaves out engine, transmission and fuel tank, replacing them with an 85-kilowatt motor driving the front wheels with a single reduction gear and a 24.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Impressively, this electric driveline gear does not impact the cabin space at all, nor does it unbalance the car. Instead, it gives the e-Golf 83 miles of zero emission driving, according to its EPA rating. The EPA rating of 116 mpg equivalent makes the e-Golf the most efficient compact electric car on the market.
As with electric cars from other manufacturers, Volkswagen offers just one well-stocked trim level. For the US, that means the navigation-equipped SEL Premium, at a price of $36,265 with destination fee. Volkswagen also offers the e-Golf in the UK, again with navigation, for a price of £30,845. UK buyers can shave off £5,000 with a government electric vehicle grant, and US buyers can figure in the government’s $7,500 tax credit.
Read more: CNet