What Is It?
Making its global production-spec debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, the Volkswagen e-Golf is an all-electric version of the new Mk7 Golf compact hatchback. One of the e-Golf's strongest selling points is that it's pretty much like any other Golf, as opposed to some rival electric cars with their futuristic space-pod styling. But don't be fooled, because there's cutting-edge technology under the skin. The e-Golf provides an estimated 118 miles of driving range between charges, which is well more than the current Nissan Leaf can manage, and its electric motor gives you 199 lb-ft of "instant-on" torque for zipping around town.
Volkswagen hasn't released pricing yet for the e-Golf, but given that the Leaf starts around $30,000 before incentives and credits, we expect VW will aim for roughly the same niche.
When Can You Get It?
Look for the Volkswagen e-Golf in dealerships by late 2014 to early 2015, likely as a 2015 model.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because...
Not everyone wants to wear his electric-car-loving heart on his sleeve, and if that sounds like you, the e-Golf could be a great fit. At a glance, the e-Golf looks like a regular 4-door Golf hatchback; it's only from behind the wheel that the differences become apparent. Plus, e-Golf drivers will have the satisfaction of knowing that their under-the-radar rides offer great driving range relative to other reasonably priced electric cars. Throw in typical Golf attributes such as nimble handling, high-quality materials and hatchback convenience, and you have a compelling zero-emissions package. Having driven other versions of the Mk7 Golf, we anticipate the new e-Golf will be one of the most rewarding electric vehicles to drive and own.
Nissan Leaf -- We're sure Nissan won't take this lying down, so watch for improved range from the Leaf in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps good deals on the current Leaf, as well.
Chevrolet Spark EV -- New for 2014, the aptly named Spark EV subcompact is limited to 82 miles of driving range, but its price is also significantly lower, and it has a massive 400 lb-ft of torque on tap.
Used Toyota Prius -- If you're not totally sold on all-electric, the venerable Prius hybrid continues to strike an excellent balance between efficiency and real-world practicality.