2015 VW e-Golf Limited; bought used with 1,234 miles – previous history says it was a 1-yr lease, perhaps a VW Exec?, not sure but was last registered in CT – traded in a ’12 LEAF SL that had 46K miles on it, my LEAF was down 1 battery capacity bar on the GOM and quickly getting ready to lose its 2nd bar as it would lose its first charged bar within a very few miles of driving; never did check it with LeafSpy but as it just passed its 5-year service anniversary, would NOT have been eligible for a capacity warranty replacement; needed to ‘upgrade’ to something else as even on my 40 mile R/T commuter trips with a full charge would still hit the ‘low battery’ warning even with VERY minimal use of the HVAC system and ECO mode on my way home; could NOT see it lasting until a Tesla M3 was out; while waiting for this e-Golf to come in, I was able to L2 charge it at a free charger near work but it wasn’t always available; it was simply a matter of time; I do have an ICE for bad weather, etc. but wanted to keep the mileage down on it as well.
The e-Golf (even in our extreme cold temps as of late) appears to still have its full capacity of EV range; it has 4 levels of regen that really allow it to quickly recoup range at minor loss of HVAC and speed, etc. – love the fact that at the highest regen levels, it will warn drivers behind you by turning on the brake lights (even though you aren’t pressing the brake) when you chose to use it, at night I was able to see where the ‘threshold’ (can see the reflection of the 3rd brake light in the back hatch window) – at the ‘B’ setting, you can easily single pedal it.
Some quick things I’ve noticed in the first week I’ve owned it –
Handling / suspension – power steering isn’t over boosted like my LEAF, responds well and very precise without feeling vague; even w/o a leather wrapped wheel, decent wheel position (although I do miss my heated steering wheel a bit!) – the car really shows its German precision on hwy ramps and S-turns; a real blast to drive, no wallowing in turns at all; it’s a smaller car but rides well, firm but not harsh, absorbs most bumps easily and suspension doesn’t bottom out – my son has a Golf R, the e-Golf is a bit softer of course but ‘feels’ much sportier than the LEAF ever was.
Acceleration – perhaps simply perception, but feels quicker off the line w/o really trying, even when using the regen settings; gets up to 70 MPH very quickly and wind and tire noise is minimal; its initial 0 to 30 MPH is quite quick like most EV’s
Brakes – BIG difference here with the 1st gen LEAF, the ‘B’ regen setting minimizes need to apply the brakes much, this will REALLY extend the brake life – when you do need them very responsive without grabbing or being too touchy (that last one happened a few times with the LEAF, seemed to be super-sensitive to even the slightest amount of pedal pressure at times w/o any warning).
Fit/finish & controls – all the switches (door locks, window lifts, etc.) are back-lit for quick reference at night, a big pet peeve with the LEAF; even though VW chose to use a ‘regular’ appearing shifter, it’s quite easy to know what regen (or not) ‘gear’ you’re in as well as adjust it quickly; the ‘feel’ of the shifter and the shift boot, etc. is great and materials used are top notch. The e-Golf is mfg in Germany and all seams, panel gaps, etc. line up great – sure we have some hard plastic surfaces but these are much less than what is used in the LEAF. Lastly, the back-up camera is simply better because it pops out from underneath the rear VW chrome badge when in use (which also doubles as the hatch release) so stays protected from road salt and grit – who remembers to clean that camera off when it’s really needed? Also, this one included the parking assist sensors; its a smaller car so perhaps not really necessary but does help to warn you before you hit something Nice touch VW!
Range – VW chose to use a regular looking fuel gauge but it’s combined with a digital read out --- I found it MUCH better at real-time range estimate than my first-gen LEAF but then I’ve heard that later years (‘13’s and newer) are finally getting this better; my new e-Golf of course has a close to ‘new’ battery so expect some better range and it hasn’t disappointed yet --- heater use will effect range but not as near as much as the 1st-gen LEAF; VW heated seats (mine are cloth) get quite hot quickly along with a heated element windshield helps minimize its effect on range – I do toggle it on and off to see the difference – perhaps 6 miles it seems at most times, we had some days in single digits; driving at hwy speeds (65 to 70 MPH) and its done quite well --- range typically shows about 78 miles (at about 90% charged) which is more than enough for my 40 miles work commute; expect 100+ when we finally see springtime temps again but that would be a bonus.
Charging – this ’15 will indeed ‘lock’ the charge cord to it when charging, so on an occasion that I used a public charger station, I made sure to move the car once it was done charging (everyone should do this anyway!); perhaps an additional step but at least I was prepared for it – you’ll get about 24 miles/hour of range with the 7.2 kW it has for L2 charging (a bit more than the 2nd gen LEAF 6.6 kW); charging is very quiet, almost imperceptible when compared to the 1st gen LEAF (which charged at half that rate); charge port door is small as VW opted for CCS DC (which my car is capable of) and it shows a few lights that will indicate charging status right where you plug it in --- nice! My EVSE will need a higher amp control station circuit board (as mentioned elsewhere on MNL forum) but by NOT charging fully, I’ve been able to avoid any issues using my Schneider EVSE.
Comfort – most other VW’s have great seats; these are no exception, the black and grey cloth with blue stitching look nice and are quite comfortable, lots of adjustments for just about any size, no fatigue after a long drive, heated aspect much better than the LEAF (plus they don’t cycle off) with 3 settings – much better power windows as well as are capable to all roll down at the same time to release the daytime heat (haven’t used this yet of course) and don’t think they’ll have the same repeat issues we’ve had with LEAF needing attention just about at every service interval (constant need to lubricate the driver’s side power window, etc. as they always seem to run real slow).
Styling – of course this is up to the potential buyer; some love the unique aspect of the LEAF, the Golf series however would not ever be considered as ‘dorky’ as what many see as a negative with the LEAF; the e-Golf just adds a few accents (c-shaped LED DRL’s in the front bumper as well as a few blue accents) and trim pieces, I happen to like its stealth-mode; you would never know it’s an EV.
Overall package, value, etc. – although this was to be my ‘stop gap’ EV until we see the Tesla Model 3, I actually like it so much I may simply consider driving it until later on when Tesla offers their Model Y (compact SUV) that is expected to use the Model 3 chassis but we’ll see --- no question a 200+ mile range EV is much more desirable but I see this e-Golf as something the LEAF could have been in the first place – it still a shame that all ‘commuter’ EV’s continue to suffer BIG depreciation hits (that’s why I’m even driving this one in the first place) but at least I’ve been able to take advantage of it this time.
VW hasn’t sold a lot of these but definitely worth a 2nd look on the used market if you can find one – I did hear that the e-Golf should go to more dealers with the 2017 model with its 124 mile range; still not Tesla or Chevy Bolt range but getting better --- as we were already used to coming home on weekends to charge for a few hours in-between errands, until the 200+ range (along with a usable Supercharger or other DC network for longer trips) is more available this EV should fit the bill for a few years while we wait and see what comes next. I'm still working with VW's version of CARWINGS (they call it Car-Net) so I can check charging status and pre-condition the HVAC, etc. --- will post another update later -- by trading now I also avoided a few hundred bucks the LEAF needed to keep its CARWINGS (over to a 3G network) and its annual battery check (which of course still would have been all 5's!!) -- I was a little sorry to see it go, decent service for the 5 years we had it --- not exceptional but decent --- car still holds the record for the lowest running and maintenance costs but set a NEW record on depreciation!
2015 VW e-Golf LE (CPO - 1.2K miles!)
2012 Nissan LEAF SL (traded-in at 5 yrs; 46K miles)
(Chicago 2018?) Tesla Model 3
reserved at Highland Park, IL 3/31/16
EVSE: 10/07/11 Schneider EVlink