The 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf isn’t for everyone, nor is it available to just anyone. But for those seeking a zero-emissions second car while living in an area that’s friendly toward electric vehicles (EV), this could be an interesting choice. It’s only sold in the handful of states that match California’s strict emissions requirements, which are mainly on either coast, plus Washington, D.C. So a huge number of American drivers won’t have the chance to buy one.
In general, the Golf lineup 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.
The 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 drivetrain powered by a lithium-ion battery. 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.
Among the e-Golf’s particular attributes are reasonable acceleration, a useful charge time of under six hours 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 preheat or precool the car before setting 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, as well as checking the locks, lights and GPS location.
VW’s roadside assistance plan helps to reduce the "range anxiety" that drivers of EVs are assumed to suffer from. If an e-Golf runs out of juice within 100 miles of the owner’s home, Volkswagen 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.
What’s New for 2019?
The DC fast-charging function, which was previously optional in the SE trim, is now included as standard. SE trim also becomes eligible for some driver assistance features. See the 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf models for sale near you
What We Like
- Reasonable performance
- Practical yet classy interior
What We Don’t
- Limited range
- Limited availability
The e-Golf’s 100-kWh 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-kW charger means a complete charge time of less than six hours when connected to a 240-volt power source. The DC fast-charge function enables an 80% charge in under an hour.
The Environmental Protection Agency (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. The agency estimates maximum range as 125 miles and puts annual fuel costs at $550.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 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," and these could amount to as much as $10,000.
SE ($32,790) has 16-in alloy wheels wearing low rolling resistance tires, keyless entry/start, LED daytime running lights/taillights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, a leather-wrapped shift knob, plus VW’s MIB II infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, an AM/FM/HD radio, a CD player, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, an 8-speaker sound system, a DC fast-charging function and a 7.2-kW charger.
This trim is eligible for a Driver Assistance package ($650) that brings adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear-traffic alert and forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection.
SEL Premium ($39,790) adds LED headlights with a cornering function, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation, a frameless self-dimming rearview mirror, front/rear parking sensors, cruise control, a heat pump for the climate control (for greater energy efficiency), ambient cabin lighting, illuminated scuff plates, a 9.2-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, a VW Car-Net App Connect enabling Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, active blind spot monitoring with rear-traffic alert, lane keeping assistance, front/rear parking sensors with Maneuver Braking, plus a partially autonomous parking 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.
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 (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 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 EVs.
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.
The e-Golf can move from standstill to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 93 mph. Notice we said "move" rather than "sprint."
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV — Another compact hatchback, riding slightly high because of the battery set into the floor. Range is an impressive 238 miles, but pricing is a steep $37,495 before credits.
2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric — Range is 124 miles, 136 MPGe combined (claimed) and it can recharge in four hours. Well worth checking out if you live in California. It’s not on sale anywhere else in the United States. Priced around $30,700.
The Golf lineup as a whole is due for replacement. VW, meanwhile, is working on several new electric vehicles. The e-Golf’s range is not that impressive these days, making it a second car rather than an only car. But if that works for you, then do it. Find a Volkswagen e-Golf for sale