FIRST REPORT We’ve got the keys to all-electric hatch to see if it’s realistic for everyday use
Latest on Volkswagen e-golf and Jaguar XF
EVERY week there seems to be another headline saying that electric vehicles are becoming mainstream – that left-field ‘bespoke’ choices such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Renault ZOE are about to be joined by EVS so normal in appearance and approach that only clued-up car fans will know that they don’t have a combustion engine under their bonnets.
To put the theory to the test, we’re going to be spending the next six months using arguably the most mainstream car of all, in pure-electric form: the Volkswagen e-golf.
VW updated its all-electric hatchback along with the rest of the range when it introduced the ‘Mk7.5’ version of the Golf earlier this year. Not only did it benefit from many of the interior tweaks that were introduced on the conventionally powered models, it also received a useful boost in its battery capacity, made possible by the ever-improving energy density of the cells used by car manufacturers.
As a result, the e-golf ’s theoretical range has risen from a miserly 119 miles to an altogether more promising 186 miles. Fast charging is included, too, allowing you to take the battery from flat to around 80 per cent of charge in just 45 minutes. Even assuming that Volkswagen’s range claim is optimistic, the e-golf ought to be able to manage around 130 miles in the real world.
And as with all electric vehicles, that sort of gain in claimed range will be enough to break down the resistance of a few more consumers who’ll have worked out that the e-golf is now able to fit into their lifestyle.
I’m already pretty much there, frankly. My wife runs a conventionally powered hatchback as her daily drive, so that’s always available as a back-up if we need to travel greater distances. And while my round-trip commute is longer than average, at about 90 miles, that’s still within the Golf ’s range.
You pay for this, of course. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of financing an e-golf in a future report, but suffice it to say that even with the savings on fuel, you’re unlikely to choose this £32,000 car over a petrol or diesel edition because of purely financial benefits. Stick down a deposit of around £6,000 over three years and 30,000 miles and you can expect to pay VW almost £600 per month for the electric hatch. It’s likely to make more sense as a company car choice.
At least there’s plenty of kit on board for the money. The e-golf gets dual-zone climate control as standard, along with a heated windscreen and VW’S top-of-therange 9. 2-inch widescreen infotainment system. The rest of the package is brilliantly familiar: all of the elements that saw the Golf crowned Best Compact Family Car at our New Car Awards 2017 are there, with soft-touch materials in the right places and a comfortable driving position.
I’m enjoying the flexibility of around 130 miles of range, the ability to pull away from rest with little effort and the fact that this tech is in one of the best family cars ever. I do intend to push the envelope a little; I’ve already visited an ‘Electric Highway’ fast-charging point that’s designed to allow EV owners to use motorways for longer journeys. Infrastructure like this will play a key role in determining when EVS actually go mainstream; so I intend to use the rest of 2017 to check on this part of the experience, as well as the e-golf ’s abilities on the road.