2019 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium Review

When eco-fun is more important than eco-range


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Zippy and nimble, wonderfully understated styling keeps it humble, as practical as a regular Golf, no-nonsense interior, great safety technology, ample amounts of room for a hatchback.
Negatives: Lame range for an EV, top trim SEL is pricier and has les range than a Tesla Model 3.
Bottom Line: The e-Golf is an EV most folks forget about because it's rather understated, has less range than most modern EVs, and comes in hatchback form only, versus the longer range Tesla Model 3 that gets way more publicity. The e-Golf, however, is a blast to drive and qualifies as an EV for those who don't want attention. We loved driving it, and found it great for daily commuting. It really is our kind of EV, but we'd love it with at least 75 more miles of range to get us through the entire week without charging.
The e-Golf might not last long because of its slow sales and the fact that the base Golf is going away (along with the Golf Alltrack and Sportwagen). It's one of the EVs that lives in the shadows compared to more dramatic offerings in the industry. But for as long as it's here, it presents a more conservative option for EV drivers though it's range is a bit compromised compared to most. We drove the top trim SEL version for a week. Read ahead for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

9

 

Though the e-Golf isn't any faster off-the line than most other EVs, its character and appearance are right in line with the way it drives. It's also very nimble thanks to the right sizing that's the same as the practical gas-powered Golf.

Ride Quality: Firmness and compliance come in equal doses. We found the e-Golf great over bad pavement.

Acceleration: Torque is immediate, and it seems almost counterintuitive for a little hatchback to feel this fast. Though it's 0-60 time is only in the around 9 seconds, it's very zippy off the line.

Braking: These are some very good regen brakes that actually have progressive feel in the pedal, though they're not as connected as the ones in the standard Golf.

Steering: There's virtually no feedback, but steering is responsive, precise, and decently weighted.

Handling: The e-Golf corners very flat thanks to the lowe center of gravity and great chassis. Body roll is minimal, and the car feels balanced.

Technology

7.8

 

Despite the fact that the e-Golf's system can't really hold a candle visually to the likes of the Tesla Model 3 or even the colorful one in the Chevy Bolt, it's still a good system that abandons fancy visuals for easy operation. We love the big 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit that comes over from Audi.

Infotainment System: The 9.25- inch system in the SEL is bigger than the standard 8-inch version on the SE, and it's the right size for easier operation. Responsiveness is a bit on the slow side, but the proximity sensors pick up when you're about to reach for the screen, and the menus conveniently pop up.

Controls: Overall controls are pretty easy and well-placed, including the row of climate control buttons and control knobs, as well as the infotainment buttons alongside the screen.

Styling

8.2

 

No one's going to call the e-Golf a head-turner because it's clearly styled on the more muted side. But we're fans simply because it doesn't cry for attention like most other EVs these days. It's even more basic than the conservative Nissan LEAF and Fiat 500e.

Front: It looks pretty much like a regular Golf except for the LED highlight along the lower fascia, which indicates more of its eco-mindedness. The front is sporty, clean, and attractive.

Rear: The an age of rear overstyling, the back end of the e-Golf looks fantastic thanks toe crisp LED taillights and the simple VW emblem that doubles as the hatch's latch.

Profile: Other than the dowdy, aerdynamic wheels, the rest of the e-Golf from the sideview looks great. It's well-proportioned and has almost no chrome, which we love.

Cabin: Though there's not much flair inside the e-Golf, the styling is consistent with the unadorned exterior. There's a bit too much piano black for our liking, but it's very German inside with its clean design.

Comfort

8.2

 

Golfs are great for commuting thanks to high levels of comfort for hatcbhacks, and the e-Golf is no different. Room for four and solid space means you don't have to compromise to get a great EV that's daily usable.

Front Seats: Good cushioning and shockingly high quality VTex (vinyl) make for comfortable trips. The bolstering and seating position are also good.

Rear Seats: There's 35.6 inches of rear legroom, a little less than the Chevy Bolt but a little more than half an inch roomier than the Tesla Model 3. The seats are also comfortable with a good seat angle.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It's nice an quiet inside the e-Golf, and it's well made. At highway speeds, it's also hushed.

Visibility: The visibility is excellent all around with well-sized pillars and good seating position

Climate: The climate system works well, as do the heated seats. We had no issues during a hot week in the e-Golf.

Safety

6.8

 

Though the e-Golf hasn't been specifically tested, the Golf has been, and it gets decent safety marks. The SEL trimmed e-Golf gets a slew of safety tech that puts it at the top of the segment.

IIHS Rating: It misses top marks to due an "acceptable" passenger front offset crash and "poor" headlights.

NHTSA Rating: The Golf model got five stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: There's a lot to love in the e-Golf SEL: Forward Collision Warning & Autonomous Emergency Braking w/ Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist), Active Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping System, High Beam Control, and Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.5

 

It's great that the e-Golf doesn't compromise on space with it's battery. It has the same usable interior space as the regular Golf, and it's very convenient for hauling cargo and luggage. We wish the cabin storage was a bit better.

Storage Space: The retractable door compartment in the center stack is good but lacks depth for larger smartphones. The armrest has some depth, but it's a bit short for larger items.

Cargo Room: There's ample hatchback space in the e-Golf with 22.8 cubic feet behind the second row and a large 52.7 with the seats folded flat.

Fuel Economy

8.8

 

Though it's not the best when it comes to range, the e-Golf can charge at either a 120-volt or a 240-volt outlet. A full charge requires takes a long 26 hours on a 120-volt outlet but only about six hours on 240 volts. DC fast charging is a standard feature in both the SE and SEL Premium trims. That system allows the e-Golf to reach an 80-percent charge in just one hour at a DC fast-charging station. Mileage was very good, but it could've been better since we drove it pretty hard.

Observed: 93 MPGe.

Distance Driven: 183 miles.

Audio

7.5

 

The stock six-speaker system is the only one that comes in the e-Golf. There's no premium system available, but the stock one is actually pretty good. The bass and clarity were respectable, and there was no distortion we could notice. It would've been nice to get the Fender system available on the Golf GTI.



Final Thoughts

The e-Golf was truly a fun car that we were surprised by. It's too bad it doesn't get more love from the car buying public since it feels like one of most approachable EVs that easy to win gas-loving car owners who don't want to feel like they're making a huge cultural leap to electric cars. It's absolutely the vehicle to choose for those who want to lay low (along with the Hyundai Kona Electric). It's easy to operate, fun to toss, and efficient enough to be attractive for commuters. We just wish the range was better.
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