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VW's E-Golf is an undercover electric car

Engadget Engadget 6/07/2016 Roberto Baldwin

© Provided by Engadget

Some people find a certain satisfaction in proclaiming to the world that they drive a hybrid or pure electric car. Thanks to the Prius line, Chevy Volt, and Tesla, it's easy to stick out among the hoards of other vehicles on the road. They are badges of eco-friendliness and forward thinking. Then there's the Volkswagen E-Golf -- an EV that looks exactly like its internal combustion engine counterpart.

Rolling in the E-Golf won't give you the visual nerd/green cred of many of the other EVs on the market. But what it does offer is tight handling, solid acceleration, and a deceptively large amount of storage space. Throw in an estimated range of 84 miles per charge and you've got a well performing entry-level electric hatchback.

The E-Golf only has 115 horsepower. But, the 199 pounds of torque delivered enough energy to the front wheels to help it leap ahead of vehicles at traffic lights and enter the freeway worry free. That initial burst of burst of speed doesn't last though. The car generally takes around 10 seconds to go from zero to 60, and tops out at 87mph.

The E-Golf won't win any drag races, but it is fun to whip around corners. The suspension is stiff enough handle mountain roads and on ramps with ease, without making every pothole in San Francisco a teeth-rattling ordeal.

The car's estimated range of 84 miles means it's unlikely that the E-Golf will be making any trips outside a metropolitan region like the Bay Area. During my driving tests, I was able to squeeze 94 miles out of the batteries while switching between its three driving modes (Normal, Eco and Eco+) and using regenerative braking.

The system worked pretty well until I ventured outside of the foggy San Francisco weather and realized the Eco+ mode also turns off the air conditioning. I'm fine extending my range a few miles, but not at the expense of sweating through my clothing. At no time did I baby the car or drive slower to extend my range.

While the drivetrain is the latest in EV tech, the interior is a bit of a mixed bag. I tested the cheaper ($28,995) E-Golf SE. Sure financial incentives from the government ($7,500) and states (California $2,500) push this price down into the teens, it's odd to encounter a car in 2016 without cruise control standard. In fact, the only feature on the steering wheel was the horn.

The steering wheel may be trapped in the 1990s, but the infotainment system is on par with anything else on the road. Volkswagen's MIB II 6.5-inch touchscreen displays a ton of information about the car, EV system, and media without becoming a navigation nightmare. Plus, it supports CarPlay and Android Auto.

The seats and rest of the interior were on par with any entry-level hatchback. Comfortable enough is probably the best way to describe them. Both rear seats fold down and offer an impressive amount of storage space. Potentially enough to get all your weekend IKEA purchases inside the car.

Overall the 2016 E-Golf is great entry-level EV. It's not suited for long road trips thanks to its 80-90 mile range. But, its mildly zippy drivetrain, fun handling and storage space make it an ideal choice for someone looking for an electric car for the city. Just don't expect it turn any eco-conscious heads.


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