Road Test Review “2017 Volkswagen e-Golf“
January 7, 2018  Carl Malek


When the e-Golf first arrived on our shores back in 2014, it was considered
an afterthought especially considering that it arrived during the pinnacle
of Volkswagen's TDI fueled dominance of the green car market. But with this
diesel powered empire toppled by scandal, and a growing field of electric
vehicles entering the marketplace, the e-Golf's role in Volkswagen's arsenal
has become much more important. But can this electrified Golf stand out
against the competition while still retaining the Golf's winning formula?

At first glance, the exterior styling does not scream that your driving an
electric car. In fact, it looks like a run of the mill Volkswagen Golf,
right down to its fake exhaust inlets and hatchback proportions. Wheras
other EV offerings are all about drawing attention to their owner, the VW is
all about fitting in, and that may please buyers that prefer a more subtle
wrapper for their gas beating purchase. The e-Golf's exclusive touches are
minimal, but blue exterior lighting, blue badging, and model exclusive
16-inch wheels make it standout from the rest of its Golf siblings. A new
front bumper and optional LED headlights also give the e-Golf a more
sophisticated personality and help it stand out in night time driving.

The interior of the e-Golf also takes a conventional route, and like the
exterior, the cabin shares much of its lineage with the standard Golf. A
bigger 8.0 inch infotainment screen has replaced the old 6.5 inch unit, and
we noticed better clarity as well as higher resolution with the new screen.
Our SEL Premium grade tester did not have the optional 12.3 inch Digital
Cockpit instrument package (an optional extra)  but the analog gauges still
looked great, and offered plenty of information as well. Interior materials
were also high quality for the most part, but there were still some obvious
cheap plastics, and we did notice occasional creaks when out and about in
the e-Golf.

The biggest update however is better range and performance, with the 2017
e-Golf now boasting a driving range of 125 miles (a sizable gain from the
old model's paltry 83 miles.) This is mainly due to its bigger battery which
has a 35.8 kilowatt hour capacity, and it benefits from several upgrades
aimed at enhancing electrical efficiency. Our tester had Volkswagen's
standard wall charging system, but while Volkswagen claims that charging the
e-Golf is a relatively easy process, our first attempts did not live up to
this promise, with the fussy e-Golf initially refusing the advances of our
wall outlet. This forced our tester to spend a good portion of the day
plugged into the outlet at my main job (a local bodyshop,) before we were
able to work out the problem (a connection issue,) and get it charged at
home later that evening. Like others of its breed, the e-Golf uses a rear
mounted charging port, which means it needs to be backed up into charging
stations to get charged. This layout also forced us to do some creative
parking in the driveway to help the cord reach into our garage.

Driving the e-Golf around town also revealed another surprise, and that's
how natural it is to experience. Wheras other EVs often come saddled with
spongy brakes, and bland handling traits, the e-Golf is actually a fun car
to drive, with quick handling and responsive braking that defies EV
stereotypes. Acceleration is also brisk with our tester making the sprint to
60 mph in 9.1 seconds, though it feels quicker than that, and we suspect
Volkswagen is hiding a few tenths of a second more in its veiled hat of
tricks. Ride quality was also solid, and it really shows just how much
potential the MQB platform has when it comes to this arena. For those that
want to squeeze even more efficiency out of their e-Golf, the car does come
with two different eco modes, but we advise sticking with normal mode since
both eco modes sap eagerness and responsiveness out of the e-Golf.

Handling in our tester served as another compelling glimpse of the hidden
levels of fun buried beneath its green focused mission. It may not offer the
same cat like reflexes that define the GTI, but the e-Golf sure does a
pretty good impression of one thanks to its respectable cornering abilities
when pushed hard, especially on twisty roads and far off back roads.

Pricing for the 2017 e-Golf starts at $$30,495 for the base SE model. SEL
Premium grade cars like our Atlantic Blue Metallic test car have a slightly
richer $36,995 base MSRP. Our lightly optioned tester had a final base price
of $37,845 thanks to its $850.00 destination fee which is on par with other
EV entries. However our tester did not have the optional $1,395 safety
package, which made it miss out on key features such as blind spot
monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision alert. For
comparison, the Hyundai Ioniq EV we tested came equipped with blind spot
monitoring and a formal sport mode for the transmission, but its poliwog
dimensions do hamper its versatility and practicality to a degree.

Overall the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is a compelling improvement over its
predecessor and we look forward to seeing the model blossom and mature over
the next few years. With rivals like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model
3 upping the bar on driving range, we look forward to see if the e-Golf's
brand of versatility and conventional undertones can make it standout in the
crowded EV segment.

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