2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

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$13,363–$20,007 Inventory Prices
(4.9) 7 reviews
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Key Specs

of the 2015 Volkswagen e‑Golf. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Zippy around-town acceleration
  • Roomy, airy cabin
  • High-quality interior
  • Excellent ride and handling
  • Extremely quiet at any speed

The Bad

  • Slow passing/highway acceleration
  • Finicky charging at 240V
  • Cheap-looking multimedia graphics
  • Limited information displays

Notable Features of the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

  • 5-seat electric car
  • 115-hp electric motor
  • Single-speed transmission
  • 83-mile range (estimated)
  • 24.2 kwh lithium-ion battery
  • Updated multimedia system

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Road Test

Aaron Bragman

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf takes all the good things about driving a Golf (ride, handling, spaciousness, visibility) and improves them by making the experience gasoline-free.

It's been a few years now since the first electric cars for the average buyer arrived in dealer showrooms, and as predicted they've been fairly slow to catch on. Some automakers have created special vehicles designed from the start to be electric, like the Nissan Leaf, and some have adapted existing, familiar faces to the new electric avenue, like the Ford Focus Electric.

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is another adaptation. Built off the latest, seventh-generation compact hatchback from the German automaker, the e-Golf dumps an internal combustion powertrain for a slick all-electric one. This isn't a plug-in hybrid, it's a pure electric vehicle, new for the 2015 model year and available only in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

I've driven many new EVs and they all behave differently, but the Golf seems to be designed to prove that driving one shouldn't be all that different from driving a gas-powered Golf. I spent a week with one to see if this is a reasonable goal.

Exterior & Styling
On the outside, there are only a few hints at the high-tech powertrain lurking beneath the steel bodywork. Unique (and not terribly attractive) wheels, subtle badging, and a thin blue line across th...

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf takes all the good things about driving a Golf (ride, handling, spaciousness, visibility) and improves them by making the experience gasoline-free.

It's been a few years now since the first electric cars for the average buyer arrived in dealer showrooms, and as predicted they've been fairly slow to catch on. Some automakers have created special vehicles designed from the start to be electric, like the Nissan Leaf, and some have adapted existing, familiar faces to the new electric avenue, like the Ford Focus Electric.

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is another adaptation. Built off the latest, seventh-generation compact hatchback from the German automaker, the e-Golf dumps an internal combustion powertrain for a slick all-electric one. This isn't a plug-in hybrid, it's a pure electric vehicle, new for the 2015 model year and available only in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

I've driven many new EVs and they all behave differently, but the Golf seems to be designed to prove that driving one shouldn't be all that different from driving a gas-powered Golf. I spent a week with one to see if this is a reasonable goal.

Exterior & Styling
On the outside, there are only a few hints at the high-tech powertrain lurking beneath the steel bodywork. Unique (and not terribly attractive) wheels, subtle badging, and a thin blue line across the front grille and headlights are your only signs that this is an electric Golf. Unlike Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt buyers, e-Golf buyers will have to be seeking anonymity, or at least willing to accept it, in their ecologically friendly purchase. From looking at it, nobody will know you're driving an EV.

The car is still classically good-looking. It's an iconic design — like the Porsche 911 or Mini Cooper — that hasn't changed its overall look since the original was introduced in 1974. The two-box design is also extremely space efficient, providing an airy interior that can seat five people with surprising ease.

How It Drives
Until I spent some time in a Volkswagen e-Golf, the Fiat 500e was my favorite pure electric vehicle. Sprightly, zippy and nimble, the 500e is a joy to drive but comes with compromises — a serious lack of interior space, for instance. The e-Golf manages to be both fun to drive and completely practical. The battery doesn't intrude into the passenger compartment at all, unlike in some hybrids, meaning all the passenger and cargo versatility that makes the Golf so uniquely good is maintained in the e-Golf. Add to that the strong acceleration from the electric drive system in around-town traffic — and absolutely silent operation at almost all speeds — and you have perhaps the best Golf experience this side of the GTI.

The e-Golf goes, rides, cruises and stops just like a normal Golf. It's wonderfully quiet, like a luxury vehicle, and handles well for a 3,300-pound compact. (That's about the same weight as a high-powered, all-wheel-drive Golf R.) It exhibits a ride that's smooth and well-damped. "Smooth" is pretty much the operative word for the e-Golf. From the power delivery to the operation of all its systems, the e-Golf feels sophisticated, comfortable and polished. The only quibble might be some brake noise that happens at lower speeds, which is likely as noticeable as it is only due to the lack of powertrain noise.

Powering the e-Golf is an electric motor coupled with a single-speed transmission. It puts out just 115 horsepower, but a healthy 199 pounds-feet of torque. A 24.2-kilowatt-hour, air-cooled lithium-ion battery is on board, and it's charged through a 7.2-kilowatt charger. That last number is an important one, as it means the e-Golf can charge faster than most EVs.

On household 120-volt current, it takes about 22 hours to fill it up from empty, but on a 240-volt Level 2 charger it takes only about four hours. Of course, that's only true if your 240-volt charger will work with the e-Golf; turns out it's finicky and likes its power delivered at over 30 amps. If you have an older 240-volt charger (like I do at my home) that delivers 24-amp power, the e-Golf will not charge from it.

The e-Golf also features optional 480-volt DC Fast Charging, which allows the car to recharge from empty to about 80 percent full in about 30 minutes. The problem with that is that due to their cost and capacity, DC Fast Chargers are, for practical purposes, for public use only. They're also extremely rare: There isn't a single public charger in the whole state of Michigan.

By comparison, the Nissan Leaf is equipped with a similar powertrain: a 24.0-kwh battery and an onboard charger rated as high as 6.0 kW. That means its range compares to the e-Golf, and it can charge in about the same amount of time on a Level 2 charger. (The base Leaf S trim level has a 3.3-kW charger and offers the 6.0-kW version as an option). The driving experience couldn't be more different, however, with the e-Golf feeling far more athletic and sophisticated than the Leaf.

The slightly smaller Ford Focus Electric has a smaller, 23.0-kwh battery and a 6.6-kW charger, but it takes roughly the same amount of time to charge. Its mission is quite similar to the e-Golf's — it's a conventional compact with an unconventional powertrain — but it's considerably heavier than the Volkswagen.

The more expensive, more powerful Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive has a bigger battery, a bigger motor and a 10.0-kW charger, and it bests the e-Golf in terms of both powertrain sophistication and luxuriousness.

The e-Golf has three driving modes that specifically work to extend battery range and one that disregards range, depending on what mood you're in and what needs you have for your travels. Normal mode is exactly that: everyday operation as normal as driving a gasoline car. Eco mode adjusts accelerator response and climate control settings to provide a bit more range, dropping maximum power output to 94 hp and limiting top speed to 72 mph. Eco+ mode goes even further, dropping power output to 74 hp and limiting maximum speed to 56 mph. It also deactivates climate control entirely and adjusts accelerator input to "glacial."

The e-Golf's EPA-rated range is 83 miles, but like any EV your mileage will vary widely depending on how fast and hard you drive it, weather conditions, hilly versus flat terrain and so on. Driving sedately without the climate control on and in Eco+ mode, I was able to get the e-Golf to give me an estimated range of over 100 miles. On a different day, driving with the gear selector in Sport mode to provide much more aggressive acceleration, it dropped to just over 60 miles.

The e-Golf's EPA-rated range is better than the Focus Electric's 76 miles and is comparable to the Nissan Leaf and Mercedes-Benz B-Class, which the EPA rates at 84 and 87 miles, respectively.

Interior
Have a seat in the e-Golf and you may be surprised at just how normal it looks. Aside from some rather questionable seat-material choices (you're not fooling anyone, VW; it doesn't even mildly resemble real leather) and a couple extra functions in the electronic menus and gauges, the interior is no different from a gasoline or diesel Golf. That means the upright, efficient cabin is quite spacious and offers some of the best 360-degree visibility and versatility of any modern automobile.

There's plenty of headroom front and rear, ample legroom for all occupants, and even the ability to squeeze three abreast in the backseat without too much discomfort. While the normal Golf comes in two- or four-door configurations, you're limited to the four-door for the e-Golf. That's not a bad thing; the improved access to the rear makes for a more usable vehicle. Plus the four-door puts the seat belt anchors for front passengers farther forward than they are in the coupe, preventing shoulder belts from riding up passengers' necks. Having previously owned both two-door and four-door GTIs myself, I can state that while the four-door may not look as sporty, it's far more pleasant to live with.

Though it's no Tesla Model S, the e-Golf is one of the largest EVs you can buy. The numbers look comparable to a Nissan Leaf, but the e-Golf has a wider cabin that provides more shoulder room front and back, with more rear legroom and headroom as well. It's bigger inside than the somewhat cramped Focus Electric, but comes in a bit smaller than the slightly larger Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which has more backseat legroom and is both taller and longer than the e-Golf.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Volkswagen has become known for high-quality interior materials in recent years (a few years of the latest Jetta excepted), and the e-Golf maintains that tradition. It feels far nicer than any comparable compact car, with switches and controls that take a page from Audi in their movement, heft and operation.

One area that received a functional update but not much of a graphic improvement was the multimedia system. It has all the modern connectivity options one could want, including various apps, but the graphics quality of the screen itself is quite poor. Simple things such as text quality affects ease of readability, and here it looks like VW spent plenty of money on the system but cheaped out on the display itself.

The display panel between the gauges could also use a rethink in terms of what information it displays. For instance, perhaps the one bit of information that every single EV owner cares most about, range, is available only when selected via the steering-wheel menus. And when it's displayed, any other information that would normally be displayed there, such as a digital speedometer or other metrics, is unavailable. Range should have its own readout, as that's more useful to know than total battery state-of-charge, which is what one of the two large gauges shows.

There also isn't a convenient way to determine if the plugged-in charger is working. Many other EVs provide a light-up display on the dash top (including the Chevy Spark EV, the Fiat 500e and the Leaf) or around the charging port (Ford Focus Electric) that indicates state of charge, but the e-Golf makes do with a little icon on the gauge cluster and two tiny LEDs next to the charge port itself.

Cargo & Storage
The beautiful thing about the e-Golf is that the flat battery doesn't intrude into the passenger compartment in any noticeable way. That also goes for the cargo area, which boasts 22.8 cubic feet of space, extendable to a sizable 52.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. That easily tops the Nissan Leaf's cargo-carrying abilities, which come in at 24.0 cubic feet, expandable to just 30 cubic feet overall.

The Focus Electric is simply a dimensionally smaller car, so despite a similar configuration it manages only 14.5 cubic feet. Its rear seats do not fold down, either, seriously limiting its overall cargo capacity. The B-Class, however, is the winner here. Though it has a smaller, 17.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up, it opens up to 54.6 cubic feet with the seats folded.

Safety
The e-Golf has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard equipment includes things like six airbags and a backup camera, but not things like active lane keeping, lane departure warning, forward collision alert or automatic cruise control. It does have something VW calls an "automatic post-collision braking system," which simply applies the brakes after an airbag deploys, preventing the car from caroming off into a secondary collision. See all the e-Golf's standard features here.

Value in Its Class
The e-Golf comes at quite a premium over a base, gasoline-powered model, but it also comes extremely well-equipped, so it's not just the electrified powertrain you're paying for. A standard four-door base model 2015 Golf TSI S starts at $21,815, while the e-Golf clocks in at $34,270 for a Limited Edition trim (all prices include destination fees). It features cloth seats, a standard electrically heated windshield, 16-inch steel wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires, a navigation system, satellite radio, a backup camera, automatic dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.

Step up to my test car, the SEL Premium model, and you'll shell out $36,265 but get additional items like alloy wheels and "leatherette" seating surfaces. It's loaded at that price, and there are no options, but this is likely not the final price: Depending on where you buy one, you'll be getting some rebates or tax credits.

There's a $7,500 income tax credit on EVs from the federal government, and some states and municipalities have their own incentives, too, bringing the price of the e-Golf down as much as $10,000 when it's all netted out.

Competitors are more numerous than one might expect — a testament to how far EVs have come in 2015. The closest matchup is with the Ford Focus Electric, which, like the e-Golf, is an EV made out of a conventional four-door, compact hatchback car. Like the e-Golf, it looks just like its gas-powered siblings, but it's smaller inside, more cramped front and rear, and doesn't have the range or efficiency of the e-Golf. It does have a price advantage, though: It starts at $30,045 including destination.

The Nissan Leaf is another good alternative and has the advantage of being available in all 50 states, unlike all the other models mentioned. It's not as powerful or spacious as the e-Golf, but is even cheaper than the Focus Electric, starting at $29,860.

If you want something more luxurious but still electric, Mercedes-Benz has just introduced the B-Class Electric Drive, which is slightly larger, more spacious, more powerful and equally as efficient as the e-Golf. It's considerably pricier, starting at $42,375, but is also much more luxurious than any of the other cars. Compare them all here

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2015 e-Golf Video

From the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.

Latest 2015 e-Golf Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.9)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.9)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Most reliable, simple, & luxurious car I owned

by Golf Guy from Mesa, Arizona on July 8, 2018

This car meets my needs. You feel ensconced in it. It is super quiet. Driving with a new attitude for your range means less worries. Read full review

(4.0)

Great car....BUT

by RTopper from Jacksonville, FL on June 27, 2018

This is a really fun car. The money spent on gas for me has dropped considerably (I still have other gas cards). It is very comfortable inside and smooth to drive. The pickup in Normal mode is very ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf currently has 3 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Volkswagen

Program Benefits

100+ point dealer inspection, 2 years of 24/7 roadside assistance, CARFAX Vehicle history report, and three-month SiriusXM All-Access trial subscription

  • Limited Warranty

    2018 model year or later: 1-year/12,000, 72,000 miles eligibility - 2017 model year or earlier: 2-year/24,000, 75,000 miles eligibility - 2016 model year or earlier TDI: 2-year/unlimited, 75,000 miles eligibility

    *See owner’s literature or dealer for your vehicle’s warranty coverage, exclusions, and limitations.
  • Eligibility

    2018 model year or later: 1-year/12,000, 72,000 miles eligibility - 2017 model year or earlier: 2-year/24,000, 75,000 miles eligibility - 2016 model year or earlier TDI: 2-year/unlimited, 75,000 miles eligibility

    Vehicles receive a 100+ point inspection and reconditioning.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Volkswagen e-Golf

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The e-Golf received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker