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FIRST RE­PORT We’ve got the keys to all-elec­tric hatch to see if it’s re­al­is­tic for ev­ery­day use

Auto Express - - Contents - John Mcil­roy John_m­cil­roy@den­nis.co.uk @john­m­cil­roy

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.

Fold seats and VW’S boot ex­pands from 340 to 1,233 litres; not much less than reg­u­lar car

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