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Short Spin: 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf Review by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

         • SEE ALSO: Volkswagen research and Buyers Guide

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

LOS ANGELES - November 25, 2015: Last week, during the first media day of the L.A. Auto Show, I jumped into a Volkswagen e-Golf, one of five that were available for test drives around the Convention Center area. Even though the lap around the Convention Center was a short one, I thought it would be worth while to seize the opportunity.

The e-Golf is a fully-electric vehicle that looks like any Golf of the current A7-generation. But I've learned to look more closely to discover some differences. First of all, the e-Golf has blue badges and blue details and energy-efficient LED daylight running lamps. Also the front air intake is different from the everyday Golf; it's an electric vehicle, and there are no tailpipes sticking out from under the rear bumper.

The 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels help smooth the airflow along the sides of the car and the radiator shutter, grille, underbody paneling, rear spoiler and C-pillar louvers help the air flowing as smooth as possible. The result is a low coefficient of drag of 0.27.

As I've dispensed with the technical details of the 2016 e-Golf, I'll now move on to the fun stuff and my first driving impression, generated during the 1.2 mile long lap through downtown L.A.

After pushing the start button and not hearing the sound of an engine, I always have to look twice at the instrument panel. Yes, indeed, the lights indicate we can drive. With lots of pedestrians about to cross the streets, you have to pay extra attention, because they cannot hear this Golf. Maybe Volkswagen also has to develop a sound, like the soft purr that the new Toyota Prius produces when in e-mode.

It is impressive to shoot away from a traffic light, thanks to the torque of the 115 hp strong electric motor, 199 pound-feet max. Since the car’s default driving mode is Normal, I stayed in N for the first lap. During the next lap, I switched over to Sport mode to feel the Golf accelerating even faster. Of course that means a higher energy use, but this can be compensated by cruising on the freeway in Eco mode.

The handling of the e-Golf is not much different from the ‘ordinary’ models. The car is stable and quick. The position of the battery pack under the rear seats lower the center of gravity and that adds to the feeling that the Golf stays well planted on the road. The steering is precise and the suspension has a set up that I would call firm but comfortable. Such a short drive does not allow for extensive testing, but the first impression leaves me with this feeling.

Depending on the driving style, settings and charging behavior, Volkswagen expects the range of the e-Golf to be approximately 83 miles, which is more than enough for the average daily drive (according to several surveys in Europe and the U.S.) of around 60 miles.

The short rock around the block was positive enough to advise anyone looking for a car without direct emissions (I mean from driving) to check out the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf. Your test drive should be somewhat longer and mimic your expected daily use. The German EV is well executed and Volkswagen offers peace of mind with its roadside assistance plan: If the e-Golf runs out of charge within 100 mile of the owner’s home, the company will arrange for the car to be delivered to a charging source nearby and pay taxi or transportation fees for the owner.

Prices of the e-Golf start at $28,995 for the SE model, the SEL Premium costs $ 35,595 (excluding $ 820 destination). A fast charging DC package of $ 1,675 offers a charging port behind the fuel filler door and a 7.2 kW on-board charger. The Driver assistance package of $ 395 includes forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist) and Park Assist.

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