Hi, I’m Mike Perkins from CarGurus, and this is the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf. Motivated by a permanent-magnet AC motor like the Nissan Leaf and powered by a 24.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, the e-Golf produces a maximum of 115 horsepower and a 199 pound-feet of torque in its Normal driving mode. This equals out to an EPA-estimated range of 83 miles, although VW offers a range of between 50 and 120 miles depending on driving style and environment. After debuting in 2015, the e-Golf has already undergone some changes—and not all of them for the better. This year, the base Limited trim gets replaced by the SE, which gets a price reduction as well as less standards. Specifically, it loses the navigation system, quick-charge port, front and rear parking sensors, and the auto-dimming mirror that were all included last year. However, you can still add the quick-charge port to the SE for some extra cash, and all Golfs benefit from the new infotainment system offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So let’s take it for a ride and see how it does. First, let’s talk about range. Those numbers are pretty confusing, but there’s a reason for that. When VW says that range could be anywhere between 50 and 120 miles, they’re basing that on how you use your accessories, how aggressively you’re accelerating, and whether or not you’re taking advantage of one of the four increasing levels of regenerative braking. Now, while VW includes several passive features to extend the efficiency of the e-Golf—things like the shuttered grille, the electrically heated windshield, and the LEDs and the heat pump in the SEL trim—you can actually change the performance characteristics here through three different drive modes and the regenerative braking system. Keep it in Normal mode and ignore the regen braking—you’re going to find yourself with around 70 to 80 miles of range. Do that in winter, and it will drop down to 50. But if you do everything right, you’re going to find yourself with well over 100. And here’s the best part: you don’t really have to sacrifice much of anything get that. Scrolling through the drive modes here, you’ll see you have the choice of Normal, Eco, and Eco+, both of which will reduce your climate control efficiency and total power output. Eco drops power to 94 horsepower and 162 pound feet, while Eco+ gets you just 74 horsepower and 129 pound feet. But here’s the thing—there’s a kickdown button under the accelerator. Press that and you get full power anytime you want. Now I’ve been coupling that with the B mode of regen braking, and that offers the most aggressive level, plus simulated engine braking. And honestly, it’s been real fun. When it comes to charging, the standard 3.6-kilowatt-hour charger will take about 7 hours to replenish a dead battery if you’re hooking it up to the 240-volt level-2 plug—the same as you’d have for a major appliance. But on the standard 110-volt like you have throughout your house, that’s going to be 20 hours for a full recharge. Jump up to the 7.2-kilowatt charger, and you can do the same dance in just 4 hours on a 240-volt plug. And if you can find a DC3 station, you can get 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Not bad at all. The decontenting of the base trim isn’t great, but it still comes really well equipped with standard power-heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate controls, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, rear- view camera and heated seats, plus the new infotainment system and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The removal of the standard navigation system isn’t too much of a bother. What really cramps my capacitors is that features like the LEDs and the heat pump for the climate control system—features that actually affect the overall range of this vehicle— are being relegated to a higher and pricier trim. Especially now when electric vehicles are fighting for collective acceptance as a viable alternative, it just seems a really poor corner to cut. You can, of course, add the larger 7.2-kilowatt charger that comes with a DC quick-charge port to the SE for $1,675. But if top-of-the-line is all you accept, the SEL also adds cruise control, fleather, ambient lighting, and an 8-inch touchscreen with SD card-based navigation. You also get front and rear parking sensors, but for the full safety suite, you should go with the optional Driver Assistance package, which will add a frontal-collision warning system, autonomous breaking, and even parking assist for just $395. Now that’s new, and frankly, it seems like the options deal the decade. But regardless of the trim, it’s still based on the Golf, which means you’ll get impressive build quality, materials that exceed the price point, plus all the utility of everyone’s favorite 4-door hatch. Just like the Leaf, the batteries are located under the floor so you don’t sacrifice any space in the trunk. So that’s 22.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and dropping them means you have 52.7 to play with. No competitor can offer that. Plus, the extra weight under the floor has actually improved the ride over the regular Golf. Despite eco tires pumped up to over 40
psi, things are solid, smooth, and just generally nice inside. And with $10,000 in government rebates, that means you can drive away in an SE for less than $20,000. Even if you add the optional Quick Charge package, it’ll still be just a few hundred dollars over. What that means is
you have to decide whether or not the LEDs, the heat pump, the fleather, the safety systems, and the upgraded infotainment system with navigation is worth the extra $6,000 to move up to the SEL. It’s tempting, but I think I’d stick with the SE with the optional Quick Charge package. Of course, I live in California so I have that option. The e-Golf is currently only available on the coast, so that’s going to make the decision for a lot of you guys. For those of you who live in the interior of the country, is this a car that you wish would come to your state? Let me know in the comments. Hey, thanks for watching. For more information on the 2016 e-Golf, just click the link in the description to read my full review over at CarGurus.com.

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Dennis Veasley

15 thoughts on “2016 Volkswagen e-Golf | CarGurus Test Drive Review”

  1. Nice Review! I like how VW didn't change the look of the Electric version of the E-Golf too much. Lots of automakers tend to make the hybrid/electric versions of their vehicles unproportional and wonky looking. Personally, It would be between the VW E-Golf and Kia Soul EV in this "more affordable" EV class. I also wonder how the upcoming Ioniq EV from Hyundai will stack up again these vehicles. Keep up the great work!

  2. We have the 2016 SE and after 3200 miles we think it's a fantastic car. The handling blows Soul EV out of the water and is even nicer than LEAF. Highly responsive and precise handling and accelerates like a GTi (up to 35 mph, anyway). One of the nicest features is the buttery smooth B mode: once you've gotten used to one-foot driving, it's a pain to get into an ICE car and have to lay on the brakes. The regen is very, very efficient. We charge on 110v at home and it's never been a problem (how many hours is your car just sat parked anyway? A: enough). Not sure how much the LEDs and heat pump really affect the range; the biggest difference between the SE and SEL is the lack of fast charger (even the level 2 is only 3.6 kW).

    p.s. oh yes: no cruise on the SE either. That's a bigger issue than LEDs/heat pump (but less so that the lack of DC fast charging).

  3. I've had the 2015 SEL since it launched in the US, I came straight from a 2004 VW R32….. and I LOVE the e-Golf! I even added a few features to mine not available in the US, like power folding mirrors with flood lights, LED tail lights and GTI metal foot pedals, rear wheel spacers to take away that 'eco' stance. That's another great aspect of this car, it's a Golf, and has that entire aftermarket line available to it cheap! After my first year and 12,000 miles of driving I figured my expenses over the same drive in my R32…. I saved $3,500 in 1 year!!!!!!!! in Gas, oil changes, brake wear misc services etc… AND I got back over $300 from my place of work for driving an EV! And going back into the R32 makes it feel like a dinosaur, for a commuter carthe e-Golf is more fun , because you are always the first away from a light, much to the surprise of the Camaro sitting next to you :P. The regen braking is THE BEST on the VW, I drove all the other cars available at the time, and VW's version is the smoothest, and most adjustable by far. i3 only has throttle control, no coasting. With the e-Golf you can choose to freewheel coast without using any energy for long distances, or regulate with B mode. Honestly eco and eco plus modes are for emergency only use as they greatly reduce the throttle response. here's my review of this car and the other cars I drove : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3_YWyjqNvk
    thanks for doing this one, although I have to disagree with the choice of SE over SEL, the SEL makes for a much nicer over package with the LED headlamps, leather steeringwheel with controls, bigger screen, auto dimming mirror etc..

  4. I absolutely wish these were more readily available in the New England area. I understand it's probably a hard sell since there's no AWD / 4WD option for it, but I really like the idea of having an EV as a commuter car. Especially one with the complete cargo layout of a Golf. No weird visuals or space usage like in the Leaf, Ford Focus-EV, etc.

    Great review, and thank you for doing this!

  5. Is it me, or Mike's (presenter) body language shows that he doesn't really excited about this car? Don't wanna use stronger language lol.

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