2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Quick Take: The perfect Millennial-mobile
A recent study by Portia/UCLA on the attitude of Millennials towards cars turned up some surprising findings. Though car makers worry that this generation is more interested in smartphones than wheels, the survey found that nearly half believe cars matter and one in five are actually auto enthusiasts. Among the leading brands, Tesla stood out for not only Elon Musk's visionary reputation, but also the technology embodied in the company's EV. The second highest brand among Millennials is Volkswagen. Combine the two and the perfect car for them is the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
While VW's EV competes with existing models like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV, the e-Golf is notable for the way its seamlessly incorporates the electric powertrain in its 5-door hatchback bodystyle. The e-Golf is virtually identical to its internal combustion kin, a car that has won recognition as North American Car of the Year. It shares the same handsome looks inside and out, has nearly the same utility (there very little if any loss of cargo space due to the battery pack and nowhere near as much as in the Ford Focus EV), and the driving dynamics are unmistakably Teutonic.
Sliding behind the wheel, there's little to distinguish the e-Golf from a standard-issue model; even the same start/stop button is used. The steering wheel has a performance oriented squared off bottom and the center stack includes a touchscreen for navigation and infotainment. The major changes are in the instrument cluster, where the gas gauge now is used as an analog readout letting you know how much battery charge is left. The center TFT screen displays the remaining range in miles and in place of the tach is a large gauge with a needle that swings left into a green zone when the battery is being replenished through regenerative braking and right into a blue zone numbered 2 through 10 that when multiplied by 10 represents the percentage of power drawn from the batteries. A smaller gauge at the bottom also reads out whether the battery is operating at max or reduced power.
Like all Golfs, the car has communicative steering, a taut suspension and is plenty fun to toss around. The best part, however, is the car's stout and linear acceleration that comes from the 115 horsepower electric motor that packs 199 lb-ft of torque, which is immediately available. The e-Golf quietly cruises about town and more than holds its own in the cut-and-thrust of freeway driving.
Affordability is key
But the best part of the e-Golf is its affordability, which makes it that perfect ride for the Millennial who may admire Musk, but has hardly the wherewithal to buy a Tesla Model S or the time to wait for the Model 3. For $35,445, plus $820 destination, you get a fully-equipped SEL trim level Golf, with leatherette heated seats, dual zone climate control and a navigation/infotainment system, which ironically displays gas stations on its map. That's before the federal tax credit of $7,500 and any local spiffs for buying an EV. And VW recently announced a Limited Edition model that's $1,995 less by replacing the almost disk-like alloy wheels with steel versions and making a few other minor adjustments to equipment levels like cloth upholstery instead of leatherette and halogen headlights rather than the LED units. Of course, the e-Golf, like others in its class, has a range under 100 miles. But for urban-dwelling Millennials, 2015 VW e-Golf could just be the ticket.