Part 5. In which I actually make my mind up
My time with the e-Golf is almost over. In a week, I’ve covered over 700 miles putting this car properly through its paces. I have undertaken long trips, and it has also entirely replaced my own cars for normal car stuff – like going to the shops and general bimbling about. So, how has it been?
Firstly, you’ll find all the detail here, in my Introduction, Clever Tech, Downsides and Roadtrip reports. There I talk about the features and realities of the e-Golf, enabling me to keep this conclusion fairly short. For once.
It must be said – the e-Golf is a very capable machine. It should be. The Mk7 Golf is a very good basis. Mix in the super-smooth EV driving experience and you have a car that stands up very well. I don’t doubt for a moment that anyone buying an e-Golf would find it a very satisfactory experience.
But there are one or two caveats. Charging is perhaps the biggest issue. As I covered in downsides, the lack of a large on-board charger, and incompatibility with the most common form of rapid charger do put restrictions on use. Volkswagen have told me that they’re looking into an on-board charger upgrade in the future (no timescale specified) and the necessary CCS rapid chargers are becoming more widespread, so perhaps these issues will simply go away.
The other is price. Some will find it absolutely fine to pay a little more for what is seen by many as a prestige product. It certainly feels very well screwed together, but so do most cars these days. Seriously, a Nissan LEAF more than matches it for refinement and build quality. The e-Golf scores a few points over its British-built rival with the Adaptive Cruise Control though. I’m simply staggered at how well it works most of the time (not the smoothest in stop/start traffic) and how relaxing it makes the driving experience once you learn to trust it.
I do have some concerns about rapid charging – the Volkswagen battery guarantee advises against doing it more than twice in succession (I did it three times yesterday, naughty me). That really rules the e-Golf out for those doing motorway miles or long distance trips on a regular basis. Which is annoying. That really does restrict the e-Golf to second car duty – ideal for those local trips (whether you live in the city or somewhere more rural).
The range is impressive – a genuine 100 miles seems possible, even in the hilly terrain of Wales. Of course, the caveat here is that I have not tested this vehicle in the winter (there’s an idea). My previous tests have deliberately been conducted in November, as that’s the hardest time of year for an EV. The less aerodynamic, heavier Nissan e-NV200 found 61 miles a real struggle when it was really cold against its claimed range of 106 miles (the e-Golf’s claimed range is 118 miles).
Overall then, this is a seriously impressive car albeit with a hefty price tag. Certainly, it only justifies its cheaper running costs (free road tax, cheap fuel) if you’re in the market for a new car anyway. Were I in the market for new, I’m not sure petrol and diesel would tempt me, so I’d be inclined towards EV. If I had the money, choosing between e-Golf and LEAF (I’m yet to test the Kia Soul and BMW i3) would certainly not be easy. I doubt I’d feel hard done by with either. They’re both great examples of just how far electric vehicles have come in recent years.