It’s only for China, but would it make sense elsewhere too?
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£32,675 when new
An electric VW Golf? How timely… The much-tweaked VW e-Golf arrives into a world quite different to the one the original Mk7 electric Golf entered back in 2014. Since then we’ve had The Diesel Thing, and a massive commitment to electric SUVs from the likes of Jaguar and Audi. Plus, technology marches on. So, where the old e-Golf realistically reached only 100 miles, developed 113bhp and could do 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds, this one goes further, goes faster, and is more relevant than it was three years ago. What impeccable timing. Faster and further? Indeed. The old e-Golf’s best-case scenario was covering 124 miles on a charge. The new one’s NEDC test range is 186 miles. Sportingly, VW agrees that these tests aren’t representative for electric cars, and said 124 miles is a more realistic real-world range. So in effect, the new e-Golf can actually travel as far as the old one could in fantasy-land. That’s thanks to a new 35.8kWh lithium-ion battery that’s almost 50 per cent more efficient than the old car’s cell pack. It still weighs 318kg, mind, but that weight is squatted low down in the chassis. The motor lives up front, under the bonnet, taking up far less space than a normal engine would and driving just the front wheels, like most other Golfs. The motor itself now develops a healthy 132bhp and 214lb ft, instead of 113bhp and 195lb ft, and of course, all that torque is available immediately, ready to pounce on unsuspecting eco-Bridgestones the nanosecond you breathe on the accelerator. How fast is ‘faster’? Not a great deal flat out: the top speed is only 93mph. And 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds isn’t remarkable. But off the line, up to a city-friendly 30mph or anywhere in between, the e-Golf is rampant. It’s genuinely a chore not to spin the wheels as the car surges instantaneously. It’s BMW i3-nippy, no question, and gets out of bed loads sharper than Nissan’s Leaf. The powertrain’s quieter too – so whine-free, in fact, that VW’s installed a sort of warble-o-matic that plays a faint hum from the engine bay as you drive along. Keep an ear out, pedestrians, that gadget might save you a lengthy summer in plaster-of-Paris. Steady on though, Tesla’s got the whole drag-race demon thing covered… It has, but nothing else about the e-Golf’s character encourages you to clog it much, so the trick is to actually dial back the power. You can do this by deselecting the default ‘Normal’ powertrain mode and opting for ‘Eco’. This eases back on the climate control to save some power, and drops motor poke down to 94bhp, which reserves even more. More than plenty for zipping about town, but you don’t smear your tyres over nearby bus lanes. Your top speed is now limited to 71mph. It also saw the indicated range of our test car leap up to 155 miles… And if I want to go ultra-eco..? Then you must enter the dark, sadistic world of Eco Plus (cue evil cackle sound effect). Welcome to a world limited to 56mph. A world where your electric motor develops just 74bhp and 129lb ft, and the throttle has the enthusiasm and animation of a church organ. Air-con is disabled, and a stiff breeze becomes a handy acceleration aid. It’ll work wonders for your range, but it’s too nerdy, too debilitating, to maintain. Just remember it’s there if you’re playing battery charge roulette. Anything new about the handling? No, so it’s still a bit lardy, but enjoyable in a 1970s cop movie chase sort of way. The body lollops around, the tyres squeal at anything above parking speed, but because there’s grunt, little grip and all the weight is skirting around your ankles, the e-golf will hang on in there far longer than is really necessary. It just feels quite inappropriate doing it.. Surely there are more important, responsible facts you ought to be telling me? Like the charging time? It’s 45 minutes for an 80 per cent hit from a DC fast charger, but if you’re only drawing wall-socket power, it’s a 17-hour recharge. In fairness, anyone who’s dropping £32,190 on an e-Golf (down to £27,690 after the £4,500 government grant is applied) is likely to have a wall-box set-up, which dramatically reduces time spent drinking in electrons from The Grid. So, if you’re unlikely to be suddenly required in Budapest at a day’s notice, there’s a lot to like here. The e-Golf’s genius is that when all said and done, it’s a Golf. Lots of space, lots of comfort, and because there are no wantonly obtuse controls or different-for-the-sake-of-it gimmicks, it’s wonderfully intuitive and familiar.
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