Review: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (4.5 stars)

Graham Scott/Autocar

The first-generation Golf was like a Golf but with a range of only about 100 miles. And that was actually quite an achievement. Because at the time that was about what electric cars could achieve in terms of range, and the whole rest of the car was a normal Golf, more or less, so you knew you were buying a seriously practical with low emissions.

But 100 miles isn’t great if you live outside the M25 say. So the second generation has a range extended to about 186 miles. While they were about it, the engineers also gave the battery pack more power, so the electric motor now has 134bhp instead of 113bhp. So, a Golf with more range and more performance, but the same zero emissions – that should do it shouldn’t it?

And the range is greater, although you’ll be unlikely to replicate the official figure. The real world figure would appear to be about 125 miles, which puts it slightly ahead of the BMW i3, a car made exclusively as an electric car. That is progress, even if it isn’t a massive leap forward. You can recharge the car overnight, which should give you about 80% charge, on a standard plug, but if you use the Combined Charging System, the top option available, then you could charge it from your home in 45 minutes.

Depleting that charge is actually quite enjoyable. The e-Golf pulls slightly harder than before and it all feels so easy and so frictionless that it makes a normal Golf feel a bit rough. There’s little noise, just an instant acceleration that builds very nicely indeed. The ride is very refined, so your progress is really rather stately.

At least, it is if you’re not trying to carry too much speed through the corners. At that point you become aware that the e-Golf may carry its weight low, but there’s rather a lot of it. The tyres let you know by squealing in protest earlier than in a normal Golf, and you have to back off. Even so, there’s not much rolling around or anything untoward, this really is a very sorted and mature product.

All the more unusual in this electric car segment, and all the better for being based on a standard car of thoroughly proven ability.

You certainly won’t be overwhelmed by many other changes. The exterior gets the latest updates, which is mostly to the lights, and the cabin gains the new and rather lovely infotainment with the glass front and an absence of buttons. Other than that, it’s the latest Golf, as is.

The result is a car that is really one of the best electric models you can buy, short of a Tesla and the money needed for that. You could argue that a diesel would go a lot further and be reasonably frugal to run, but if you want the ease of driving and the near silent instant rush of the e-Golf, then we’d quite understand why you’d choose this second-generation model.

As yet we don’t know how much it will cost, but assuming it’s sensible money then it’s a firm ‘buy’.

Location Majorca Spain

On sale May

Price tba

0-62mph 9.6sec

Top speed 93mph

Economy 12.7kWh/100km

Kerb weight 1540kg

Engine Synchonous electric motor

Installation Front transverse, FWD

Power 134bhp

Torque 214lb ft

Gearbox single speed automatic, variable energy regeneration

Battery capacity 35.8kWh

CO2/tax band 0g/km, 9%

Rivals BMW i3; Nissan Leaf

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