What is it?
Volkswagen’s second series-production electric car – the Volkswagen e-Golf.
Following hot on the heels of the e-Up, the new zero-emission version of Europe’s perennial best seller is planned to go on sale in the UK next spring at a price, Volkswagen’s head of R&D Hans-Jakob Neusser suggests, will see it undercut the recently introduced BMW i3.
Volkswagen has taken its time developing the e-Golf, resisting the urge to launch it until its advanced driveline was sufficiently mature — both in terms of performance and range — to fully meet customer expectations.
Now, with increasing political pressure at home to get zero-emission cars on the road and a rising public awareness of the ability of the latest generation of electric cars, the German car maker appears confident of its potential to finally place the e-Golf on sale.
Unlike BMW with the carbonfibre-intensive i3 – and Nissan with the Leaf as well as Renault with the Zoe for that matter, Volkswagen has decided to base its new electric car around an existing model, the seventh-generation Golf; the reasoning being that a number of internal studies carried out in recent years have revealed potential electric car buyers are more interested in overall everyday practicality and ease of use than fancy styling and a sense of standing out from the crowd.
It is a typically conservative approach, but one that Volkswagen is confident will prove the right one over the longer term. Apart from a blue strip adorning its grille, a pair of e-Golf badges front and rear and full LED headlamps, there initially appears to be little else to differentiate the new e-Golf. However, a closer inspection reveals it boasts a number of detailed aerodynamic refinements that help it to slip through the air with greater efficiency than its more conventional combustion-engine touting siblings.
Included is a new front bumper with integrated LED daytime running lamps that mimic the shape of those of the e-Up, a closed-off grille to block the entry of air to the engine bay, additional underbody panelling for smoother air flow at speed, a rear spoiler atop the tailgate, so-called air guides within the C-pillars and a new rear bumper. The wheels have also been optimised with an aerodynamic design that is claimed to reduce turbulence within the wheel houses. The result is a claimed 10 per cent improvement in drag coefficient over the standard Golf at a claimed Cd of 0.28.
To help streamline assembly at its Wolfsburg-based manufacturing base and keep production costs in check, the e-Golf uses the same MQB platform structure and high strength steel body structure as other seventh-generation Golfs. One body style, a five door hatchback, is planned to underpin sales, although VW doesn’t rule out adding a three-door hatchback at a later stage, should demand warrant it.
Mounted transversely up front in the space usually occupied by the Golf’s wide variety of petrol and diesel powerplants is an in-house developed, engineered and produced synchronous electric motor. Tuned to operate at a maximum 12,000rpm, it develops 114bhp and 200lb ft of torque in the most liberal of three driving modes. Drive is channelled to the front wheels through an in-house produced single-speed gearbox, known as the EQ270.
Energy for the electric motor is provided by a 24.2kWh lithium ion battery that weighs 318kg and is mounted underneath the boot at the rear. Consisting of 264 individual cells sourced from Panasonic, it generates a nominal 232 volts. Charging time is put at a lengthy 13 hours on a 240 volt household socket at a charging power of 2.3 kW. However, this can be cut to just four hours with an optional combined charging system that allows the e-Golf to plug in at a charging station boasting power levels of up to 40kW.
There are no compromises in interior space or overall accommodation, although the boot loses its double-floor feature, meaning there is slightly less luggage space than with other seventh-generation Golfs.
As with the exterior, the interior boasts a familiar look apart from the instrumentation, which has been altered to in line with the driveline. The e-Golf also receives an eight-inch touchscreen colour monitor as standard, providing the basis for a range of unique on-board functions, including a so-called range monitor, energy flow indicator and charge manager.