2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL First Drive

Efficiency and performance combine for a fun-to-drive experience.

What It Is
An all-electric compact hatchback.
Best Thing
The ride is smooth, comfortable, and eerily quiet.
Worst Thing
No efficiency driving coach or charts.
Snap Judgment
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf brings a fun and attractive personality into an otherwise relatively boring segment.

You wouldn't think driving around the back roads of Virginia would be all that enjoyable behind the wheel of a compact electric vehicle. However, when in the driver's seat of the all-new 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf, there's some fun to be had.

Electric cars--aside from the likes of Tesla--have been given a bad rap for not being fun to drive or lacking in power. That may be true as the batteries can only do so much, but with 115 horses and 199 lb.-ft. of torque behind it, the e-Golf delivers a strong performance that may be surprising for this compact hatchback.

Read on to learn what we thought of our time behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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The e-Golf stays consistent with the rest of the lineup in terms of exterior styling with its signature hatch design, but just a few changes help to set it apart. Energy-efficient LED headlights are featured on the all-new model, which are used for the first time on an American VW, along with C-shaped LED DRLs, a signature feature of the e-Golf on the redesigned front bumper. Added to that, blue highlights on the VW logo, a lack of tailpipes, and 16-inch bespoke aluminum-alloy wheels complete the look of the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.

Fans of the Golf will enjoy the newest edition to the lineup, and those unfamiliar with the brand's hot hatch will like the looks, as it stands apart from the rest of the EVs out on the road. We couldn't wait to get behind the wheel and see all that this car had to offer.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Sitting Down

Immediately, we saw differences between the e-Golf and the gas- or diesel-powered Golf models, the most notable being the dash and center stack. The interior design was very clean and simplistic, making the e-Golf seem more upscale and attractive when compared to other models in the lineup. The infotainment system was full of clean lines and was easy to use. The dash was simple, displaying just enough information to keep attention focused on the road.

Wrapped in a leatherette surface, the seats were comfortable and supportive. However, adjusting them was just a bit confusing. While the backrest was power-operated, moving the seat forward and back was operated manually. Despite this, it was easy to find a comfortable driving position and set off.

We were surprised by the amount of room in this hatchback, with 22.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 52.7 when the rear seats are folded. These dimensions also give rear passengers plenty of legroom, and thanks to the hatch design, headroom is abundant as well.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Starting up the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf, we set off on some Virginian back roads, complete with tight, blind turns, straightaways, hills, and more. Our first trip out, we focused on the performance of the new model, and were surprised just how smooth the ride was. It felt like driving on a cloud, and all road imperfections were barely felt, if at all.

Thanks to the 199 lb.-ft. of torque, getting up to speed or going up a steep hill was no problem. There was plenty of power behind this car to even give the drive a fun quality. Like other Golf models, the e-Golf has sharp steering, which provides optimal handling around tight corners. However, like with the majority of the VW lineup, the brakes were touchy, but once used to them, they were firm and confident.

On our second round in the e-Golf, we played with the different driving modes. While the first time we stuck to 'Normal,' this time we turned on the 'Eco' and 'Eco+' modes. Immediately it's evident that there is a power shift, especially when going between the two eco modes. It was easy to switch back and forth between the modes; however, activating the regenerative braking required more buttons and shifting. Even the braking had different levels, making the 2015 e-Golf one of the most customizable cars in terms of driving. However, we wished that there was an efficiency driving coach or something to show how efficiently we were driving.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view


Volkswagen has produced a strong competitor for the EV segment, and while it may not have the range of other all-electric vehicles, there's a lot to like about this little hatchback. Priced competitively and with the help of tax credits, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf becomes affordable for many budgets. We enjoyed our time behind the wheel and loved the unique features and design. We'd recommend this car to anyone looking to break into the EV game and still have the fun driving characteristics that the Volkswagen Golf has become known for.

Basic Specs

24.2 KW lithium-ion battery, 1-speed automatic transmission, 115-hp, $36,265