In-depth reviews

Volkswagen e-Golf (2014-2019) review

The Volkswagen e-Golf offers all the practicality of Volkswagen's five-door hatchback and is almost as good to drive, too

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Super-low company-car tax
  • Looks like a mainstream Golf

Cons

  • Relatively expensive to buy
  • Shorter range than key rivals
  • Smaller boot than a regular Golf
Car typeOfficial rangeWallbox charge timeFast charge time
Electric144 miles5hrs 15mins (7.4kW, 0-100%)36mins (50kW, 10-80%)

While Volkswagen's ID.3 might be the German brand's latest headline-grabbing, eye-catching electric hatchback, the e-Golf was a practical, enjoyable and usable everyday electric car that paved the way for Volkswagen's ID. range and many more compact electric cars. 

The e-Golf is no longer available to buy brand new, as it was replaced by the ID.3 when it launched in 2020, but it remains an important electric car that rewrote cliches about the technology. Much like the Honda e and MINI Electric that came later, the e-Golf has a relatively short maximum range of 144 miles (realistically about 130 miles), which is actually ideal for the daily commute. It doesn't offer quite the same range as the 168 miles the Nissan Leaf is capable of, and certain models of the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro can cover double the distance the e-Golf can on a single charge. 

The e-Golf differs from other electric cars that have been designed as such from the ground up – such as the BMW i3 and Leaf – because it’s an electric variant of an existing model. Instead of an engine under the bonnet, there’s a 134bhp electric motor driving the front wheels, while a 35.8kWh battery sits under the floor in the boot. Otherwise, the e-Golf is an almost identical proposition to the rest of the line-up.

Indeed, one of the most appealing aspects of e-Golf ownership is that it looks much like any other Golf on the road. Only car spotters are likely to notice the blanked-off grille (there’s no need for a radiator to cool the engine) and the unique aerodynamic alloy-wheel design of the electric model. It also comes with blue styling accents and blue-backed VW logo at both ends to denote its electric status.

Charging can be taken care of using a domestic supply with a full charge from empty taking just over five hours using a wallbox at home. However, most owners will only be topping up a partially used battery overnight, so returning to maximum charge will be much quicker than that. Use one of the ever-growing network of public chargers and you can get back to 80% capacity in just over 30 minutes.

The e-Golf carries around a sizeable battery, and that means noticeable extra weight to lug around. This blunts the agility and poise of the standard Golf chassis a fraction, but not enough to take all the fun out of driving it – in fact, the e-Golf remains one of the best pure-electric cars to drive given its direct handling and relaxed ride comfort. The e-Golf also feels quite happy and unstrained at normal motorway speeds.

There’s only one trim level but the equipment levels help justify the e-Golf’s price. Standard kit includes a Discover Pro navigation system with gesture control and a 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Adaptive cruise control, LED headlamps and Car-Net App-Connect smartphone connectivity are also included.

From the driving seat or any of the passenger seats, the e-Golf experience is remarkably similar to any other model in the line-up. You get the same dashboard layout and interior trim, identical interior space and the freedom to choose many of the same optional extras. Boot space is reduced a little by the underfloor batteries, but still offers a reasonable amount of room.

With typical Volkswagen build quality and a comprehensive safety package built in, the e-Golf is one of the most reassuring and easily accessible ways to get into electric motoring – for those who can afford the purchase price, anyway. It makes a lot of sense for families with a daily school run and for city-based business users, although by its very nature, the electric Golf does have a more conservative feel than its BMW i3 rival. For a more detailed look at the Volkswagen e-Golf, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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