Volkswagen e-Golf vs Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe: Review & Comparisons
Review Of The Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback
If you love the regular and super popular VW Golf but fancy making the switch to electricity, there’s no reason why you couldn’t love the new Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback, too. It’s got all the hallmarks of a traditional Golf – including top-notch build quality and reliability – and emits absolutely no CO2 and gets energy-saving regenerative brakes as standard.
As a bonus, it even looks a lot like its standard Golf sibling. This means you don’t have to worry about driving an unorthodox-looking electric car but can instead cruise in one of the smartest hatchbacks around.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback Review
Overview of the Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback Review
On The Road
There’s a lot of familiarity in the air here, which buyers will appreciate. As well as looking a lot like a regular Golf, the e-Golf drives a lot like it, too. On winding roads, it feels exactly the same as its petrol and diesel-powered siblings.
Its suspension setup has changed slightly – it’s stiffer so that it can cope with the extra weight.
In the towns and cities, the ride fidgets a bit, but this is something that afflicts all compact electric cars that are burdened with the extra weight. That said, the e-Golf also gets special tyres and wheels that reduce ride quality somewhat, too.
Take the e-Golf onto a sweeping road and you’ll be pleased with the amount of grip on offer, as well as the fluid steering. This means you can take bends with confidence, although we’d have to argue that it’s not quite as sharp as, say, the VW Golf GTI.
In terms of its “engine”, the e-Golf’s high-capacity battery teams up with a 134bhp electric motor. 0-62 can be dispensed within 9.6 seconds, which means the car is almost a whole second faster than last time.
That said, 9.6 seconds is hardly a figure to get excited about, but it genuinely feels faster than you might think. Moreover, its 0-62 time actually outdoes the VW Golf GTI.
On the whole, the e-Golf feels lively in urban settings, but it can feel overawed on the motorway.
It comes with three driving modes – ending with Eco Plus and starting with Normal, while Eco sits in the middle. Eco Plus is the least powerful mode, and it’s designed to help you get the most out of the car’s range.
The car comes with a regenerative braking system that distinguishes it from the regular Golf.
This system saves energy and, because it has a setting that changes the harshness of the brake force, it lets you drive the e-Golf without even using the brakes if you’re in the right setting.
Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback Interior, Design & Build
Just like the standard Golf, the e-Golf is well built and its driving environment will be familiar to anyone who’s driven the regular car.
It’s much quieter inside than its petrol and diesel-powered siblings – but it isn’t as comfortable. This is down to its special tyres and wheels that have been designed to reduce mechanical drag. That they do, but when combined with the stiffer suspension of the e-Golf, they serve to create a less smooth driving experience.
The dashboard was revised in 2017 and now comes with the brand’s 12.3” Active Info Display colour screen. It’s driver-configurable and replaces the traditional instrument cluster. Unlike the standard Golf, it relays extra info about battery stats, range and so on.
The electric motor gets a control dial that further distinguishes this car from its conventional sibling, while contrasting blue stitching inside the cabin also sets the two cars apart. Not much else does, but the Golf has one of the best dashboards in the business, so we’re not complaining.
Is the Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback practical? Its 341-litre boot is 39-litres smaller than the conventional Golf’s, but it can be extended to 1,231-litres by folding the rear seats.
The car comes with five doors, it doesn’t work as a tow car, but passenger space is just the same as it is in the standard model. This means that – just like the latest Golf – rear legroom is better than ever.
Storage spaces are good and include large, felt-lined door bins.
Equipment & Safety Of The Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback
This is a fairly expensive car but its standard kit is good. The e-Golf gets cruise control, a Driving Assistant Package, front and rear parking sensors, LED rear lights, full LED headlights, automatic wipers and keyless entry.
Also standard is Apple CarPlay, sat-nav, a 9.2” Discover Pro infotainment system and Android Auto.
In terms of how safe it is, the Golf scored 5/5 when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. Among its standard safety kit are autonomous emergency braking, stability control and lots of airbags.
Optional safety extras include lane-keeping assistance, automatic dipping headlights and parking assistance.
Costs Of The Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback
Prices for the new car start out from £32,370. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, you can charge the car’s battery from home and it can keep going for 186 miles on a full charge. That’s on a good day – on a bad (cold) day, you might run out of charge after 120 miles, so be careful.
If you use a public fast charger, you can charge a battery 80% in just 45 minutes, and charging costs a couple of quid.
The e-Golf emits no CO2, has a 9% BiK rating (the lowest possible) and is exempt from both road tax and the London Congestion Charge.
Pros and Cons Of The Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback
It handles just like its conventional sibling, which means it’s more than capable in the towns and cities, on winding lanes, or on the motorway.
Looks Like The Standard Golf
This will be a tick in the box against the e-Golf if you want an electric car that stands out, but for everyone else it’s great that VW has transferred the smart looks of the standard car onto this one.
VW has increased its power to 134bhp, while its torque and 0-62 time have also been improved.
The standard Golf – especially the entry-level model – is much cheaper to buy.
Don’t be surprised if your range lasts less than 120 miles on a freezing winter day.
Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback vs Nissan Leaf vs Renault Zoe
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback review.
Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback vs Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular electric cars on the road. The new model has a better driving range than last time and it represents great value for money.
On the road, the Leaf’s electric motor offers 148bhp, which makes it a bit more powerful than the e-Golf – and 40bhp more powerful than last time. That extra 40bhp has improved its 0-62 time from 11.5 seconds to 7.9. It’ll be like driving a different car!
It’s not as fast as the Tesla Model 3, but the Leaf is sprightly, easy to drive and comes with light steering that’s well suited to town and cities.
The suspension is on the firm side, but that’s par for the course when there are heavy battery packs involved.
The Leaf is armed with brand new e-Pedal technology that lets you drive it with the accelerator pedal only. It slows the car to recharge the batteries.
Overall, the Leaf might not be what you’d call sporty, but it’s just as quiet as last time and offers more performance.
Running costs? Nissan has almost doubled the Leaf’s driving range, and it can now go for 235 miles on a single charge, which is significantly more than what the e-Golf can manage. That said, this is Nissan’s theoretical range, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll achieve it on a regular basis.
Inside, anyone familiar with the previous Leaf will notice straight away that its interior colour has changed from cream to black. It feels a lot more conventional, which some buyers will welcome, while a flat-bottomed steering wheel gives it a sporty flavour.
Some of the materials are a tad low rent and there’s a lack of flair in here, but on the whole, the cabin feels well-built. A hefty digital display flanks a conventional speedometer on the dashboard, and it relays key info about safety and battery life.
Is the Nissan Leaf practical? It’s bigger than last time, which means it can accommodate families and their luggage better. We’d say four adults will be a lot more comfortable than five, while rear knee room is a bit of an issue thanks to the raised seats.
Access is easy, while the boot measures 435-litres, which makes it a lot bigger than the e-Golf. The Leaf also gets a pair of charging cables but there’s doubt over whether the new Leaf will be a suitable towing car – the last one wasn’t.
Volkswagen – £32,370
Nissan – £26,490 – £31,990
Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback vs Renault Zoe
The new Renault Zoe has a claimed driving range of 250 miles, convinces with its looks and isn’t too expensive.
Like the e-Golf and the Leaf, the new Zoe offers a very easy going driving experience. It’s super duper quiet but other than that it feels a lot like a conventional Hatchback.
It’s nippy too, and its 110bhp electric motor covers the 0-30mph sprint in 4.0 seconds flat. However, if you opt for the smaller 88bhp motor that powers the Q90, it ambles from rest to 62mph in 13.5 seconds before maxing out at 84mph. It copes perfectly well in the towns and cities, but will sap the battery in almost an instant out on the motorway.
The 110bhp model is a much better option and feels more at home on the motorway.
Both models come with regenerative brakes but they’re very abrupt.
Running costs? Renault claims the Zoe has a 250-mile range, but like all claims, you need to take it with a pinch of salt.
Like all electric cars, the purchase of the Zoe’s battery or its ongoing lease needs to be taken into consideration. How much a lease costs you per month depends on your expected annual mileage. If you plan to cover under 4,500 miles per year, you’ll pay just £60 a month.
Inside, the Zoe is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Its dashboard sports a futuristic design that helps it to stand out from the e-Golf, and a large central screen dominates.
Despite its futuristic design, however, the Zoe is let down by bland beige and grey plastics.
Is the Renault Zoe practical? It’s had to make room for its batteries but it still boasts a bigger boot than the Clio. However, at 338-litres it’s a smidgen shy of the e-Golf’s load capacity. Its low loading lip boosts its usability, but the Zoe’s rear seats can’t be folded totally flat.
Other than that, the Zoe is a lot like the Clio, whose structure it shares. Rear leg and knee room are decent, as is headroom.
Renault – £18,745 – £30,520
Verdict Of Our 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback Review
The e-Golf was a bit behind its rivals in terms of range and power last time around, but VW has boosted both so that it’s on par with what the best in class can offer. It also boasts the standard Golf’s upmarket image, drives superbly and houses a typically well put together interior. The new Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback is a class act.
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