What's the used Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback like?
You could pretty much sum up the 2014-2020 Volkswagen e-Golf in one line: ‘It’s like a VW Golf – but quieter.’
However, while the characteristics of this all-electric version of the old Mk7 Golf are broadly similar to the normal petrol and diesel models, the ownership experience can be quite different, even if the ever-improving electric charging network means the usability of electric cars is getting daily better.
Of course, electric cars still only make up a small proportion of the used car market but, even so, the e-Golf has always had a number of keen rivals to compete with, including such second-hand notables as the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and BMW i3.
So, the e-Golf is like a regular Mk7 Golf. The chief difference is the synchronous electric motor mounted in the engine bay, which delivers 134bhp and up to 199lb ft of torque exclusively to the front wheels. The only visual clues are redesigned LED headlights, unique alloy wheels, a different front bumper and a closed-off grille that distinguishes the car.
As per the normal Golf, the e-Golf is a very comfortable place to spend time in. The interior is spacious for people in the front with the driver getting lots of adjustment in the steering wheel and seat to get themselves settled. Passengers in the rear are well catered for too, but the boot is slightly smaller thanks to the batteries. Despite this, you can still get a couple of large suitcases in there, which is more than can be said of the BMW i3.
All this means that in the quality of its finish, appearance, ergonomics, usability and practicality, like any Golf, it sets the bar for family hatchbacks of its period. So it’s nigh on impossible not to feel at home in the driver’s seat, or comfortable in the back, or appreciative of almost everything that can be fingered or adjusted.
Added to which, it’s very well equipped: it gets two-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, e-vehicle programmed sat-nav and an 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system. A DAB tuner, smartphone integration, USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard items too.
The difference comes when you start the e-Golf. Where you might be expecting to hear an engine fire into life, you just get a whirring of electric motors instead. This is also a powertrain with a bit of low-end muscle, which gives the car not only the sense of classy refinement that you hope for from a VW but also competitive performance and a strong impression of flexibility.
You may also notice that the e-Golf seems to be a little bit more cumbersome against the standard Golf due to the additional weight of all the batteries. It is much more agile than the Leaf, though, and nicer to drive than the Zoe, with less body roll in the corners. Hustling the car along isn’t something that you’d normally do, but you can flick your way around roundabouts and tighter junctions with a bit of brio – and enjoy doing so. Underneath it all, this is a Golf, after all, and it handles with the same kind of perfectly metered consistency and well rounded predictability as any Golf.
In 2017, Volkswagen facelifted the e-Golf which saw its range increase from 124 miles to 186, thanks to the development of an enhanced battery pack.The claimed range is according to the NEDC figures that were prevalent at the time, but Volkswagen suggests most drivers will get a more conservative 125 miles in daily use. That being said, some later versions of the Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf can go considerably farther, even if both are much less refined than the e-Golf, both in terms of wind and road noise.
What used Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback will I get for my budget?
Prices for an e-Golf at the time of writing start at £16,000 for a 2015 version. You'll need between £16,000 and £20,000 for a car from 2016 or 2017, between £20,000 and £22,000 for a 2018 or 2019 model and around £22,000 to £24,000 for one of the last 2020 cars.
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How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback?
Despite what you may think, running an electric car is no free lunch - although filling it up with full charge can be less than a tank of petrol or diesel.
If you charge your e-Golf at home, it’ll take 13 hours from a normal three-pin plug or just four hours using a dedicated charging point. Costs will depend on how much your electricity company charges, but you can delay charging using the car’s onboard computer if you are on an economy seven tariff, to take advantage of cheaper electricity at night.
Fast chargers at motorway services can top your car up in 45 minutes, so you can quickly add range while you stop for a break. But one word of caution would be that different companies charge different amounts for use of their chargers, so it won’t be as cheap to run your car if you rely solely on these charging points. And, if you have to use a car park, some will still make you pay for parking as well for use of the charging point. The advice is to check before you travel.
Total energy capacity is rated at 24.2kWh (although the battery is prevented from fully discharging) and it takes 13 hours to recharge from a domestic 230V socket. Via a special, optional wall box, that can be reduced to about eight hours. A 40kW Combined Charging System dispensing DC will have the e-Golf at 80 per cent of full charge within 30 minutes.
You won't need to pay any road tax thanks to zero tailpipe emissions.
You will still need to service your car annually, but it should work out to be cheaper than a traditional petrol or diesel Golf since there’s no oil to change. Volkswagen doesn’t offer fixed price servicing for electric cars and doesn’t publish any fixed price costs either, so it’ll be worth contacting a few Volkswagen dealers to find out which one works out to be the least expensive.
Which used Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback should I buy?
Since there’s only one model and one power output, there really isn’t much to add here.
We would say that finding an example with the optional winter pack is a good idea because it includes heated seats and windscreen that’ll help cut defrosting times and keep you warm in cold weather. We’d also suggest finding a car with a heat pump because it saves some of the heat produced by the batteries and electric motor to warm the interior, thus cutting the amount of power consumed by using the car’s heater to do the same job.
Our favourite Volkswagen e-Golf: Volkswagen e-Golf
What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback?
The Nissan Leaf has been a really big influencer in the world of electric cars and there are plenty of examples available on the used market, both of the earlier and cheaper first-generation car and the more refined second-gen model. We'd go for the facelifted model, though, for its increased range.
If you want lots of range for not a lot of money, the Renault Zoe is a great buy, with prices starting from just £6000 for the earlier cars. Reliability isn’t necessarily its forte and with some of the earlier models you will have to pay a monthly lease rate for the batteries, but few electric cars go farther on a charge.
Or you could go for a used electric car with much more radical styling in the BMW i3. It’s also made from carbonfibre, which makes it much lighter than most electric cars and pays dividends in terms of outright acceleration.