Late in 2014, the Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback entered the electric car fray, likely in response to the stricter emissions regulations that apply in some U.S. states. Going electric represents a big step for Volkswagen, as the company's first EV in the U.S.
The e-Golf demonstrates that the seventh-generation Golf serves as a strong foundation for an electric car, retaining all of its practicality and quality, without making sacrifices like some other EVs adapted from gas-engine hatchbacks.
What's New for 2016
A new, value-priced SE version joins the e-Golf lineup, featuring a 6.5-inch touchscreen to control the updated MIB II infotainment system, which includes USB and VW Car-Net App-Connect. A 3.6 kW onboard charger is standard on the SE, while a new DC quick-charging package adds a more robust 7.2 kW unit for faster charging. An updated Driver Assistance Package, including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and parking assist is available for the SEL Premium model. Park assist can identify a parallel or perpendicular parking space and autonomously (automatically) steer the car into it.
Choosing Your Volkswagen e-Golf
The e-Golf now comes only in two trim levels, SE and SEL Premium, starting at $28,995 (plus destination charge). The SEL Premium goes for $35,995. That latter figure is roughly equivalent to the highest trim level on the gas-engine and diesel (TDI) Golf models.
These MSRPs don't include government incentives for which buyers may qualify, including a $7,500 federal tax credit. The electric motor produces 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, and the SEL Premium driver can select from three driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Eco+. Volkswagen claims a range of up to 83 miles on a full charge.
The e-Golf is currently available only from select VW dealers in 10 states, including California and New York, and in Washington, D.C.
The addition of a lower-priced model makes the e-Golf more tempting. Still, the big question to be asked about an e-Golf, or any electric car, is whether a battery-powered vehicle works for you. Unless you have a convenient 240-volt outlet to plug it in nightly, the answer has to be no. You also have to be comfortable with the expected range: in this case, not over 83 miles if starting with a fully-charged battery pack. On the plus side, with no loss of cargo space and a lot of features for the money, the e-Golf presents few compromises.
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