In the growing yet niche segment of electric vehicles, the Volkswagen e-Golf offers a modest range in a practical compact hatchback package with the proper mainstream looks and interior quality taken directly from its gas-powered sibling.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf is available in two trims, the base SE trim starting at $28,995 and the nicely-equipped SEL Premium starting at $35,595. The desirable SEL Premium trim loads the e-Golf with an added 7.2kW charger with DC fast-charging capability, which comes as an added cost option on the SE trim and enables an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Other highlighted features as part of the e-Golf SE and SEL Premium trim include:

  • Heated front seats
  • Electronically heated windshield
  • Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity
  • Keyless entry
  • Rearview backup camera
  • Power front seats
  • 16-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires
  • Full LED headlights (SEL Premium)
  • 8-inch Discover Pro touchscreen infotainment system with navigation (SEL Premium)
  • Onboard 7.2kW charger - enables full charge in 4 hours via a 240-volt outlet. (SEL Premium)

The top-trimmed Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium equipment list doesn’t depart far from the base SE trim. Most of the pricing difference comes from the added onboard 7.2kW charger that permits a shorter 4 hour charge versus the standard 3.6kW onboard charger, which otherwise takes nearly 20 hours for a full charge using an 110-volt outlet. Additionally, the e-Golf SEL Premium trim adds full LED headlights and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation.

Performance Pros

Volkswagen e-Golf Side

All Volkswagen e-Golf trims incorporate an 83-mile range and combined 116 MPGe rating. Power is generated from its 24.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to power an 85-kilowatt motor driving the front wheels with 115 horsepower and an instantaneous 199 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60 mph time is about 9.5 seconds, an average result for a compact sized electric vehicle.

  • Effortless acceleration and quick throttle response from a dead stop thanks to the electric motor's instant torque.
  • Nearly identical stability and handling attributes from its well-praised gas-powered Golf sibling.
  • Fast full charge time (4 hours) from onboard 7.2kW charger via a 240-volt wall charger/outlet, in addition to an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes via DC quick-charging on e-Golf SEL Premium trim.

Performance Cons

  • The base e-Golf SE's standard 3.6kW onboard charger takes about 20 hours for a full charge via an 110v outlet.
  • 83-mile total range estimate is over 20% shorter than the 2016 Nissan Leaf's range.

Interior Pros

  • The 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf features many of the same soft touch materials and intuitive control layouts from its gas-powered Golf counterpart.
  • Front seating has ample support and proves to be comfortable on long fully-charged hauls.
  • Rear seats fold completely flat, opening up total cargo space to a class-leading 52.7 cubic feet.

Interior Cons

  • Rear seating cushion bottoms are mounted very low.
  • The e-Golf SEL Premium trim's navigation system is slow to respond to various inputs and on-screen gestures.
  • The base e-Golf SE trim's standard 5.8-inch touch screen is on the small side compared to other systems.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Volkswagen e-Golf Interior

Four levels of selectable deceleration from the regenerative braking system offer the driver several options. Fundamentally, these levels allow you to extend the range through different rates of regeneration during braking or lift-throttle deceleration. The most aggressive setting will permit a high level of deceleration upon throttle lift-off while recharging the battery at the highest rate possible to extend the range.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The limited availability of the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf, which is only currently available in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

The Bottom Line

Volkswagen e-Golf

The 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf builds upon the already-proven and well-perceived formula of its gas-powered sibling and births a fully-electric vehicle with most of the same welcomed practicality, performance, and economical attributes. Apart from the limited range of 83 miles on a full charge, the e-Golf is a good alternative to burning gasoline -- the only stipulation being the ubiquitous range anxiety for some.