Power for the e-Golf comes from a synchronous permanent-magnet AC motor that sends 115 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of instant torque to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. Both the motor and the transmission are mounted in the Golf's engine bay.
The drivetrain draws electricity from a 701-pound lithium-ion battery pack that is installed under the Golf's cabin. Volkswagen promises the e-Golf packs a real-world driving range of anywhere between 70 and 90 miles. It can reach 62 mph from a stop in about ten seconds and go on to an electronically-limited top speed of 87 mph.
Developed jointly by Volkswagen and Panasonic, the battery pack can be plugged into a wall box and fully topped up in less than four hours, or it can be plugged into a standard household outlet and charged in about 20 hours. Alternatively, an 80-percent charge is available in just 30 minutes when using a quick charger.
The totally silent e-Golf comes with a low-speed sound system designed to make sure pedestrians know that a car is coming.
Putting the Driver in Charge
The e-Golf offers three driving profiles and three levels of regenerative braking.
The "Normal" mode lets the driver take advantage of the e-Golf's full power output and brisk off-the-line acceleration. Volkswagen predicts most owners will stick to the "Normal" mode for every day driving.
Selecting the "Eco" mode extends the Golf's driving range by reducing the motor's output to 94 horsepower and 162 lb-ft. of torque, reducing the A/C's output and modifying the accelerator pedal's response. Top speed is limited to 62 mph in "Eco" mode, and the sprint from zero to 60 mph takes about 13 seconds.
"Eco +" mode turns off the A/C entirely and it further lowers the motor's power output to 74 horsepower and 129 lb-ft. of torque. "Eco +" also lowers the top speed to 56 mph, but the car quickly switches back to "Normal" mode when the accelerator pedal is pushed in all the way.
The three levels of regenerative braking are D1, D2 and D3/B. They are selected by tapping the shift lever to the left. D1 regenerates the least amount of energy, while D3/B is so strong that the brake lights automatically turn on when the system kicks in.
Looking the Part
Visually, the e-Golf looks similar to its gas- and diesel-burning siblings but it packs model-specific 16-inch alloy wheels that boast an aerodynamic design, LED headlights, C-shaped daytime running lights integrated into the lower bumper and blue trim accents all around.
The story is similar on the inside, where the e-Golf is identical to the standard Golf save for minor trim pieces and an EV-specific instrument cluster. The e-Golf packs an innovative heat pump that uses both ambient air and the heat generated by the drivetrain to warm up the cabin. This setup allows the driver to save electricity by not relying solely on the car's high-voltage heater.
The e-Golf packs a touch screen-based infotainment system called MIB II which integrates the car's entertainment, navigation and climate control systems while offering crash notification, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance. MIB II also features remote vehicle access, speed and boundary alerts and it can provide a vehicle health report as well as a range indicator and an energy flow indicator.
Standard and Optional Equipment
The e-Golf is offered in two trim levels called SE and SEL Premium, respectively.
New for the latest model year, the SE model comes standard with 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, a leather-wrapped shift knob, heated front seats, dual-zone A/C, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, and rain-sensing wipers.
SE buyers looking to reduce the time needed to top up the battery pack can order the DC Fast Charging Package at an extra cost.
The SEL Premium trim comes loaded with LED headlights, a heat pump, the aforementioned DC fast charger, V-Tex upholstery, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a bigger touch screen, navigation, cruise control, ambient lighting, illuminated sill plates, and parking sensors on both ends.
The SEL can be ordered with a Driver Assistance Package that brings a forward collision warning system with autonomous emergency braking and park assist.
All e-Golfs come with a free Roadside Assistance Plan designed to help eliminate the range anxiety that is typically associated with electric vehicles. If an e-Golf owner runs out of juice within 100 miles of his or her home, Volkswagen dispatches a tow truck to take the car to the nearest charging station free of charge. Additionally, the company will pay for the owner to take a cab home or to work if needed.
The e-Golf packs dual front airbags, front side air bags and side curtain airbags as well as an Automatic Post-Collision Braking system.
The e-Golf's appeal is currently limited because it is only sold in a handful of states. Shoppers eligible to buy an e-Golf can also look at the Nissan Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric, its two closest rivals, and the larger Chevrolet Volt.