Up to a point, the e-Golf handles better than the average economy hatch. It also rides more poorly than most of its petrol and diesel-powered range-mates. But the net impression is of a car with good dynamic deportment that offers the interested driver a bit more to get his teeth into than the average zero-emissions car.
The advantage gained from locating the car’s major masses under the cabin floor, rather than slinging them high up between the front suspension turrets, soon shows itself. Although outright grip levels aren’t high, the e-Golf rolls very little and steers with directness, precision and agility at low and medium speeds.
Hustling the car along isn’t something that you’d normally do for several reasons, but you can flick your way around roundabouts and tighter junctions with a bit of brio – and enjoy doing so. Underneath it all, this is a Golf, after all, and it handles with the same kind of perfectly metered consistency and well rounded predictability as any Golf.
There’s generally limited time for us to get familiar with how an electric car behaves on the limit at either of MIRA’s handling circuits, because battery range needs to be conserved so that the car can finish the full test on one charge.
Handily, there’s seldom much to be learned by driving these cars on track, either. But the e-Golf coped better than most EVs. It developed more outright grip than a BMW i3 and proved that battery-powered machines needn’t run on compromised, ultra-low-rolling-resistance rubber in order to achieve a usable range by setting a wet lap time of which any normal combustion-engined five-door could be proud.
On the dry track, the e-Golf is slow because of its lack of high-range performance, and not because it lacks decent adhesion levels, good chassis balance or proper body control. If anything, the e-Golf corners flatter and more keenly than its combustion-engined siblings and it would be tidier still with less pudgy-sidewalled tyres.
The e-Golf departs slightly from the carefully judged accomplishment of its siblings in the way that it rides over lumpy surfaces, though. There’s no mention of any drop in ride height in the press material, but you’d guess that’s how VW has achieved the e-Golf’s very low drag coefficient. The car seems to lack that crucial bit of wheel travel to keep its body from pitching and fidgeting noticeably over rougher bitumen.
Bigger bumps also disturb the car’s otherwise becalmed demeanour just a little bit more than they ought to. It’s not a big failing, but if the symptoms sound familiar, it may be because we’ve been writing the same thing about Volkswagen’s BlueMotion models for years.