First Drive: Volkswagen e-Golf

What’s new Outwardly Volkswagen’s e-Golf looks like any other Golf, but this is the German firm’s latest foray into the world of electric motoring. Just like the e-Up! city car before it, Volkswagen’s aim has been to normalise the electric car experience. This means a conventional design and an equally conventional driving experience. The combination of battery pack and electric motor results in a very Golf-like driving experience, with performance figures matching a middle-range petrol model, while the car’s multi-mode recharging system allows a choice of overnight, rapid and super-quick (80 per cent in around 30 minutes) scenarios depending on your daily routine and location. Looks and image The seventh generation Golf can never be described as visually radical, but what it lacks in shouty ‘look at me’ appeal it makes up for with a sensible, confidence inspiring design that’s unlikely to go out of date quickly. It’s also unmistakably a Golf and that’s the point; VW’s mid-size hatch boasts universal appeal, is instantly recognisable and refreshingly fuss-free in looks and execution. Space and practicality Being a regular Golf, albeit a battery powered one, this e-Golf is no less practical or accommodating than its petrol and diesel powered cousins. Cabin space is generous, as is the amount of oddment storage available, while boot space is more than acceptable. You’d never know the car was electric until you turned the key - and heard nothing, silence. And on that note, VW is quoting the car’s range as ‘up to 118 miles’ which is about 100 miles in the real world and a little less if driving hard or when the ambient temperature is on the chilly side. Behind the wheel Like a Golf but not a Golf? Hardly; this electric Golf is every bit as good as its motor driven stablemates when it comes to driver enjoyment, while the hushed progress you make is a pleasingly bonus. Everything inside the car is conventional, with only a special gauge informing you of remaining charge and the level of energy regeneration achieved giving away the car’s true identity. Brisk performance is easily achievable, while ride comfort and cabin refinement is top notch. Different driving modes allow you to fine tune and extend the car’s remaining battery range by increasing the level of energy recuperation from braking, with the most intense setting providing enough ‘engine braking’ for you to almost abandon the brake pedal completely when in town. Value for money This e-Golf isn’t alone in the electric car market for being priced at a premium above a comparable diesel alternative. However, factoring in the Government’s green car grant brings the Golf’s price down to a relatively acceptable level. That said, the car’s fuel - electricity - can be purchased for very little indeed, thus considerably offsetting the day-to-day running costs. Following on from the eUp!, the e-Golf includes a generous level of standard kit. And don’t forget, the e-Golf also attracts zero VED, is London congestion charge exempt, is eligible for free or reduced parking in dedicated charging bays around the country and affords business users favourable tax rates over that of a regular company car. Who would buy one?Early adopters with a green leanings should form an orderly queue for the e-Golf. The car is conventional enough to attract mainstream buyers seeking to embrace eco motoring, while there’s enough technology to keep tech advocates happy. It’s also the least futuristic-looking of this new breed of electric cars, which is a bonus if you don’t feel the need to shout about your environmental views. This car summed up in a single word: Green If this car was the…: Duracell bunny, outlasting the competition time after time FACTS AT A GLANCE Volkswagen e-Golf, £25,845 including £5,000 Government grant Engine: Electric motor producing 113bhp and 199lb/ft of torque Transmission: Single speed driving the front wheels Performance: Top speed 87mph, 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds Economy: 118 mile range Emissions: 0g/km of CO2 at the tailpipe

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