First drive: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen’s first fully electric vehicle for the U.S., the e-Golf, is stylish, practical and loaded with desirable features, but availability is limited and the price is steep.

Blue is Volkswagen’s color of choice, to symbolize environmental responsibility.

Not surprisingly, on the morning of the inaugural test drive event, vee-dub arranged for us journalists a fleet of e-Golfs, its first EV for the U.S. market, slathered in electric blue paint.

Aside from the cloudless Virginia sky and the fleet of electric blue electric cars, however, green was the theme. The hilly landscape set the scene, its grass-covered horse pastures dotted with sprawling hardwoods and patches of forest.

Opulent estates lined the day’s all-electric drive route, each surrounded by stacked-stone walls. These walls suggested residents of the area – just like the e-Golf – suffered from no shortage of green.

The e-Golf felt rich, too; which is a good thing given its $35,455 price tag.

Driving dynamics

The driving dynamics of each Golf model – gasoline, TDI, and electric – vary slightly, but all are fun to drive. While the e-Golf is not tremendously powerful, acceleration is acceptable from a stand-still and at higher speeds. In the corners, the electric version feels heavier than either of the conventionally powered Golf models, but handling and braking are still commendable. In traffic, the stillness and silence of the idle electric motor relieve some of the stress of driving.

In traffic, the stillness and silence of the idle electric motor relieve some of the stress of driving.

With its 24-kWh lithium-ion batteries fully charged, the e-Golf has a range of 70 to 90 miles. The Eco+ drive mode, which reduces the responsiveness from the 115-horsepower electric motor, boosts range to 100 miles or more, according to the automaker. VW even has a solution for the range anxiety than can plague EV drivers: free roadside assistance in the event of being stranded with a depleted battery.

VW has also partnered with ChargePoint, a network of 18,000 EV charging stations, to provide e-Golf drivers with access to a charge while away from home. And because the electric car comes standard with a combined charger, every e-Golf driver can take advantage of DC fast chargers at commercial charging stations. A DC fast charger can provide 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Using AC power at home, a full recharge requires four hours at 240 volts or eight hours at 120 volts.


Aside from the electric drivetrain and plugging in instead of filling up, the e-Golf is exactly what you’d expect from the venerable VW hatchback. It gives up no passenger or cargo space to accommodate its batteries, so it is as practical and comfortable as the conventional Golf.

Inside, the e-Golf looks and feels more upscale than most mainstream vehicles, thanks to quality materials and a clean, modern design. Because only the SEL Premium trim is available, every e-Golf driver gets features like touchscreen navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key with push-button start, heated front seats, a backup camera and parking sensors.

The controls are straightforward and simple, with none of the quirky futurism of some EV competitors. A few distinctive styling details differentiate it from gas- and diesel-powered models, but overall, the e-Golf looks like the regular Golf.

The most obvious styling difference is at the front fascia. The e-Golf has a unique grille and a pair of C-shaped LED daytime running lights found on no other VW model. Badges on the grille, front fenders and hatch give it away, too, as do the flat, aero wheels.

Charging at the competition

Among e-Golf’s competitors are other EVs as well as other models from the VW Golf range. The price of the e-Golf is nearly double that of the most affordable gasoline-powered Golf and thousands more than the best-selling EV competitor, the Nissan LEAF. But the e-Golf includes a long list of desirable features.

The e-Golf is nearly double that of the most affordable gas-powered Golf.

The top-trim LEAF is similarly priced, and compared to even a fuel-sipping Golf TDI, the electric version will almost certainly prove cheaper to operate.

Even as it goes electric with the e-Golf, Volkswagen certainly remains committed to its diesel technology. Representatives of VW presented a detailed look at the latest improvements to its four-cylinder TDI engine that make it cleaner and more efficient. The TDI-powered Golf remains the long-distance choice, but only the e-Golf offers zero-tailpipe-emissions driving for those with shorter range needs.


Electric vehicle buyers shouldn’t have to justify the premium they pay over a conventional vehicle, but they often do. The same goes for buyers of diesels and hybrids who calculate break-even points where fuel savings match the price premium. Electric cars are very inexpensive to operate, but that’s not the only reason to buy one. The value of going green can be just as appealing as saving green, especially in a car as nice as this one.

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf arrives later this year, with availability limited to Pacific coast and Northeastern states. VW says that the area includes 80% of EV buyers and announced no plans to expand availability.


  • Clean and modern styling
  • No sacrifice in passenger or cargo space
  • Economical, zero-emissions operation


  • Relatively pricey
  • Limited availability
  • Limited range
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.