The 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf represents most of the things we all know and love about the regular Golf, only it’s electric. The driving experience is surprisingly familiar, despite a lithium-ion battery-powered drivetrain. It also comes with impressive practicality, thanks to its 5-door hatchback body style and 5-seater interior offering the same generous passenger and cargo space as any other Golf.
The Golf, in general, is a stand-out in the compact hatchback world. Rivals are only just catching up with the levels of refinement and cabin material quality, but even those alternatives are few.
Among the e-Golf’s particular attributes are reasonable acceleration, an impressive charge time of under six hours (with the 7.2-kilowatt charger) and 125 miles of range. The battery pack is installed under the car’s floor, resulting in a low center of gravity which gives the e-Golf quite a sporty attitude.
Naturally, the e-Golf has an app. This allows owners to pre-heat or pre-cool the car before seeing off. Charging can be started, stopped, or set with a timer. Owners can also access information on miles driven, journey time and estimated power consumption. And they can check the locks, lights and GPS location.
Volkswagen’s roadside assistance plan helps to reduce the range anxiety that drivers of electric vehicles are assumed to suffer from. If an e-Golf runs out of juice within 100 miles of the owner’s home, VW will arrange for it to be delivered to a convenient charging spot, and even pay any taxi or transportation costs the owner might have incurred.
If there are any negatives to the e-Golf, it’s that the car is only sold in the handful of states that match California’s strict emissions requirements. These are mainly on either coast, plus Washington, D.C. So a huge number of American drivers don’t have the chance to buy one.
What’s New for 2018?
There are no major updates for the 2018 model year. See the 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf models for sale near you
What We Like
Quick charge time
Impressive 119 MPGe rating
What We Don’t
Some rival EVs have similar or better range, wider availability, and lower starting prices
The 2018 e-Golf’s 100 kW electric motor produces 134 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque and sends that energy to the front wheels through a special single-gear transmission.
A 7.2-kilowatt charger means a complete charge time of less than six hours when connected to a 240-volt power source. The SEL version also has a DC fast-charge function for an 80% charge in under an hour.
The EPA has a method for calculating what it calls miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). It puts the e-Golf at 126 MPGe in the city, 111 MPGe on the highway and 119 MPGe in combined driving. These are class-leading figures, according to the EPA. The agency estimates a maximum range of 125 miles and puts annual fuel costs at $550.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf comes in SE and SEL Premium trim levels. Remember there are various federal and state credits for buying a car that uses "alternative fuel" which vary depending on where you live.
The SE ($30,495) has 16-in alloy wheels wearing low rolling resistance tires, keyless entry/start, LED lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped shift knob, plus VW’s MIB II infotainment system with a 6.5-in touchscreen, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a 7.2-kilowatt charger.
The SEL Premium ($37,345) has the DC fast-charging function (an option in the SE). It also gets leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, cruise control, ambient cabin lighting, illuminated scuff plates, an 8-in touchscreen, heat pump (for greater energy efficiency), and Park Distance Control.
The SEL Premium trim is eligible for a Driver Assistance Package that includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, plus a parking assistant feature.
Cargo space behind the rear seats is 22.8 cu ft. This expands to 52.7 cu ft. when those seats are folded down. That’s the same as the regular Golf and among the best in its class.
As well as all the usual protection features (side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and front-side airbags), the e-Golf adds a few high-tech items such as a post-collision braking system that brings the car to a stop after a collision has already occurred. It may seem unusual, but it can help stop the e-Golf from rolling into other cars if the driver is unable to apply the brakes after a collision. A rearview camera is also standard.
The e-Golf has not been crash-tested, but the regular Volkswagen Golf has earned top scores from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The latter agency made the Golf a Top Safety Pick Plus.
Behind the Wheel
Apart from things like brake regeneration and a driving mode selector with Normal, Eco, and a super-efficient Eco Plus mode that cuts horsepower to boost range, the e-Golf does a good job of giving the impression that this a normal, everyday car capable of doing normal, everyday things. That’s not the case for some electric vehicles.
The better battery and upgraded motor (compared with last year’s model) results in a one-second quicker sprint from 0-to-60 mph, which the car now performs in 9.6 seconds, and a higher top speed of 93 mph (up from 87 mph).
There are some other differences compared with a standard Golf, including low-end torque (a plus), lack of engine noise (also a plus) and weak acceleration at higher speeds. But any downsides are offset by a nicer interior than many rivals, along with comfortable yet stable handling, excellent outward vision, and generous passenger and cargo space.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Chevrolet Volt — A plug-in hybrid as opposed to a fully electric car like the e-Golf, the Volt offers an electric motor capable of about 53 miles until a range-extending gasoline engine kicks in.
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric — Range is 124 miles, 136 MPGe (claimed), lower starting price than the VW, and can recharge in four hours. Well worth checking out.
There’s a lot to like about the e-Golf, such as its comprehensive equipment, regular-car driving experience, roomy interior and impressive charge times. Probably the biggest disadvantage is that most people aren’t able to buy it. Another issue for the e-Golf is some of its newer competition, especially the 2018 Nissan Leaf with a better range, availability in all 50 states, and a lower price.
For those living in areas where the e-Golf is available, there’s some thinking to do. How routine are your driving activities and needs? How easy is it to recharge, say, at work? Although its 125-mile range is decent, it still doesn’t seem quite enough to promote the e-Golf from acting as a great second car to being an only car. Find a Volkswagen e-Golf for sale