Review: Volkswagen e-Golf (2014)


Impressively swift and smooth performance. 119-mile real life range. Regenerative braking makes town driving easier. Feels similar to a petrol Golf.

118.75 mile range is limited compared to a petrol or diesel and to later generations of electric cars. (Even VAG's Mii electric has an official range of 162 miles.)

Volkswagen e-Golf (2014): At A Glance

A few years ago, you had to be a die-hard early adoptor to buy an electric car. But they're gradually becoming more commonplace, and if there's one car that will truely take EVs to the mainstream, it's the ubiquitious Golf. The electrically-powered version of the Golf offers the same formula of practicality, quality and refinement as the rest of the Golf range, but with the big advantage of no emissions and no need to ever put fuel in it.

Instead you only need to plug in the e-Golf to charge it up. Using a wallbox, a full charge from empty to maximum can be done in a little over five hours. With the electric charging network in the UK ever expanding, there are now far more charging points available at supermarkets, shopping centre car parks, railway stations and motorway services.

Of course the worry with any electric vehicle is that you will run out of power, miles away from a charging point. But with a realistic range of around 120 miles this is less of a worry with the e-Golf. Of course it's not a car that will suit everyone - but for many people who do even a reasonable distance commute, the e-Golf could make sense as an every day car.

It drives well too. This is no slow eco-special, instead it feels as rapid as a turbocharged petrol Golf. The power figures are reasonable with 136PS and 290Nm of torque, but what makes all the difference is that all the torque is available from a standstill, making the e-Golf a rocket at the lights. From 0-30mph it is effortlessly fast and really enjoyable to drive, even beyond the novelty factor.

It's just as good on larger roads with strong pace on the move. It's incredibly easy to drive with a single-speed gearbox plus there are clever regenerative braking modes which, although slightly disconcerting at first, make driving in town much easier.

The one sticking point is the price: the e-Golf costs £28,230 after the government electric car grant of £4500, about the same as a Golf GTD. However, the BMW i3 is only marginally more expensive and has more power, albeit with a slightly shorter range. What the Golf does have on its side is familiarity. It's very easy to get to grips with as, bar some different instrument dials, it's very much like any other Golf from behind the wheel. For those who want an electric vehicle without anything weird or wacky, the e-Golf has a lot of appeal.

What does a Volkswagen e-Golf (2014) cost?

Contract hire from £417.06 per month

Volkswagen e-Golf (2014): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4270 mm
Width 2027 mm
Height 1450–1482 mm
Wheelbase 2630 mm

Full specifications

While this may be an electric car, the interior is pretty much identical to a standard Golf meaning it's intuitive, well finished and comfortable. There are some touches to remind you this is something a bit different, such as the blue stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever, but for all intents and purposes this is like any other Golf. The finish is typical Volkswagen with a solid and high-quality feel throughout. It feels very much a premium product.

Like any other Golf, you get analogue instruments but in the e-Golf they're slightly different. Rather than a fuel gauge you have a battery meter while the rev counter is replaced by a power dial showing the percentage of power being used and when the battery is being regeneratively charged.

The nav system with its eight-inch touchscreen also has some useful extras including a range display on the map and locations of available charging stations. Smartphone users can also download the Volkswagen Car-Net app which lets you remotely control different functions on the car including heating and cooling along with charging information.

One interesting option is the heat pump which helps preserve the range in the winter. Heating the cabin uses more power in an electric car than in one with a conventional engine, so this system uses heat from ambient air and the vehicle's systems to reduce the amount of power used. According to Volkswagen it can increase the range in cold weather by up to 20 per cent.

As the batteries are located in the vehicle floor there's no compromise inside with the same passenger and 380-litre boot space. The driving position is very good with plenty of adjustment in the steering column while the electric parking brake frees up space on the centre console. Twin cupholders and large door pockets mean storage is very generous.

e-Golf comes as a five-door only and in one trim level that includes 2Zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels, Discover Pro sat nav, adaptive cruise control, city emergency braking, a driver alert system, PreCrash occupant protection, automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, DAB radio, Bluetooth, MDI with Lightning and 30-pin connectors and a front armrest.

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen e-Golf (2014)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Volkswagen e-Golf (2014) like to drive?

The e-Golf is powered by an electric motor that produces 136PS - around the same as the 1.5 Golf TSI. That's a reasonable amount of power but what really gives the e-Golf pace is the 290Nm of torque. This is available from a standstill so away from the lights the Golf feels very rapid, making it ideal for city driving.

There's no DSG gearbox, instead the e-Golf has a single speed automatic making it very straightforward to drive. There's always plenty of power available and it's responsive too - even at speed the torque gets to the wheels five times quicker than in a conventional petrol or diesel engine. From 0-62mph the e-Golf takes 9.6 seconds - as a comparison an 130PS Golf TSI does it in 9.1 seconds.

As there's no noise, aside from the whir of the electric motor, it's a very relaxing car to drive. In fact it feels very much like any other Golf. It rides smoothly and deals well with potholes, speed bumps and cat's eyes. Yet it's still good in corners with responsive steering and impressive body control.

As hatchbacks go the Golf is one of the best around when it comes to an all round blend of ride and handling so we're pleased to report that the e-Golf drives as well as the rest of the range. The lithium-ion batteries are located in the floor, in front of the rear axle, which means a low centre of gravity. In terms of weight the e-Golf is around 730kg heavier than an equivalent Golf 1.5 TSI.

You don't notice that extra weight on the move though. The e-Golf is ideally suited to urban driving and is more responsive from 0-30mph than most diesel or petrols, with an effortless nature to its performance. It's not out of its depth on motorways or A-roads either. The top speed is limited to 93mph and it will happily keep up with fast flowing traffic as easily as a 1.5-litre petrol. The fact it has plenty of immediate torque means you aren't left wanting when it comes to meaningful acceleration for safe overtaking.

One unusual feature of the e-Golf is the regenerative braking. There are five modes and all will help in preserving the range of the e-Golf. The most effective is the B (for braking) setting which like the other modes works by automatically braking when you come off the power. It sounds strange, but in town it's very effective. You can almost drive the e-Golf using just the accelerator pedal. It also makes you more aware of planning ahead when driving so you can avoid using the brakes. Your passengers will also benefit as once you're adept at using the system, it makes for smoother progress.

To further preserve the electric power, there are two economy modes. The most effective is Eco+ which limits power to 75PS and torque to 175Nm while switching off the air conditioning. It does make the accelerator pedal feel like it's stuck in treacle, but in traffic you don't notice the lack of power and it really helps in preserving your maximum range.

Although the NEDC gives a range of 186 miles, as with any form of engine, this depends on how you drive and what systems you're using. If you're careful and use the regenerative braking modes (and don't have the air conditioning working overtime) you'll easy see more than 100 miles on a single charge which is more than adequate for most needs.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
e-Golf 13 mpg 9.6–10.4 s -

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen e-Golf (2014)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best app to find public charging points for electric cars?

What apps do I need for a holiday trip around the south coast and West Country with my new e-Golf?
I'd recommend downloading the PlugShare app. It'll tell you where all the chargers are in the area you need, along with details about the companies that operate them and reviews from other users.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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