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Driving

the peterborough examiner Thursday, April 20, 2017

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SECTION C

e-Golf retains fun, practicality

Driving.ca

First Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Peter Bleakney Driving.ca MALLORCA, Spain ? The Volkswagen Golf I?m piloting nips and tucks its way along the serpentine roads that wend their way between the ancient villages of Mallorca. It shows the hallmarks of VW?s class-defining hatchback: alert steering, a willing chassis and a sense of composure, solidity and refinement. The front bucket hugs me in a way ? well, in the Volkswagen way ? that blends support with long-distance comfort. And I?m flowing from corner to corner on a wave of what feels like bottomless torque. But something is missing. Ah, that would be the sound of an internal combustion engine. This is the fully electric 2017 e-Golf, and it represents the future of Volkswagen. VW will be mopping up the Dieselgate mess for some time to come, but for better or worse, the People?s Car is done with Rudolf Diesel and his engine. Make no mistake, the e-Golf is a breakthrough car for Volkswagen; it is by no means a reluctant nod to electrification or a diversionary tactic. VW seems deadly serious about this, and to show its intent, the comprehensively equipped 2017 e-Golf arrives in Canada in June with a starting price of $35,995 and a NCR/EPA range of 201 kilometres. From the outside, the e-Golf looks like any other Golf, that is to say elegant and well groomed. Or to some (not me), boxy and boring. Whatever your take on its exterior esthetics, the e-Golf differs from other Golfs under its skin. Volkswagen?s MQB modular platform was designed from the outset to handle electrification, and as such the 35.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack intrudes very little on the e-Golf?s roomy cabin. The only real giveaway is a central floor hump that will make middle rear seat passengers splay their legs; cargo space is unaffected. Under the hood is a 100-kWh electric motor driving the front wheels, producing 136-horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. Base e-Golfs get a new eightinch touch-screen interface with proximity sensor, voice control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, CD player, eight-speaker audio, USB and one SD card slot. Also standard are proximity key with pushbutton start, auto-dimming interior mirror, dual zone climate control, heated fabric seats and heated windshield, full LED headlights, LED tail lights, rear-view camera and rain-sensing wipers. Upgrades include the $2,305 Technology Package, which adds a high-res 9.2-inch touch screen with gesture control, wireless hot spot, navigation, VW Media Control (wireless phone and tablet integration), and a few other goodies. For shame, though, this interface does not have a volume knob. Taking the heat off Honda? If you want leatherette, add $360, and for driver?s aids look to the $2,305 Driver Assistant Package (requires the Tech Package) that bestows blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise with stop and go, collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane assist, park assist, light assist and an impressive 12.3-inch digital display that replaces the analog major gauge cluster. Dubbed Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, it is cut from the same cloth as Audi?s virtual cockpit, being configurable and clearly showing driving data, navigation and audio info. If you want a custom colour for this silent runner, Volkswagen offers a palette of over 30 hues, although your visual whimsy won?t come cheap, adding an extra $2,995. Over a couple days of driving the e-Golf, its predicted range of 200 km seemed totally realistic. Interestingly, the Europeans are more lenient with their ratings, giving the ?Volts-wagen? a 300-km range. Take that as you will. This hatch is a swift little thing, and it is hard not to dip into that deep well of instant torque at every opportunity. From crawl to highway speeds, the e-Golf surges ahead with a surprising vigour, and because tire rumble and a bit of wind noise are the only intrusions, it?s all too easy to creep into impoundment territory when passing one of those antediluvian, emission-spewing, internal-combustion cars. If you want max range, don?t drive it like a GTI, although precluding this type of activity are the e-Golf?s extra 300+ kg and 16-inch low-rolling-resistance tires. Charging the e-Golf from empty to full takes 26 hours from a 110- volt plug, or four to five hours on a home or public AC charging station. With a public DC Fast Charger, you?re looking at about 30 to 45 minutes for an 80 per cent charge. Initially, the e-Golf will be available only in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Thanks to a provincial bribe of $14,000, it will be a screamin? deal in Ontario; B.C. residents can expect $5,000, while those in Quebec get an $8,500 incentive. With the aforementioned list of $35,995, you can be pretty sure Volkswagen is taking a scorching bubble bath on each one. Yes, this is a silly and unsustainable economic scenario, but if you?re on the right side of the equation (and the idea of an electric Golf spins your wind turbines), this is an opportunity almost too good to be true. In Ontario, the 2017 e-Golf will cost less than the base Golf TSI with automatic transmission. And it?s an exceptional vehicle, both in the way it drives and what it delivers: comfort, functionality, near maintenance-free motoring, cheap running costs and, of course, a big wavy green flag.

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