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Models and Technology

Electric and carefree

The new e-Golf banishes concerns about range – a drive from the plant to the source of its power.

The e-Golf charging with renewable energy at the Wolfsburg charging station.

When it comes to electric cars, everyone talks about the range – but after this test drive, we don’t anymore. On a sunny spring day – with temperatures above 10°C – the battery of our e-Golf is nearly full. That’s enough for 265 kilometers, a comfortable power reserve easily covering most everyday drives. After all, we wouldn’t hesitate to set off without a full tank in a car with a combustion engine. So that’s one less concern and our minds are free to test this new version of the Golf with the purely electric drive.

Our first stop is a reunion with an older car at the plant. The Citystromer, an ancestor of the e-Golf, is waiting on the Südstrasse road at the factory, not far from the power plant. Built in 1992, it was a member of the second generation of the Golf and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Amazingly, the 27-horsepower Citystromer could cover as much as 50 kilometers on a full battery when driving in the city. That’s an awfully long time ago. But the “I drive electric” tradition – emblazened on the rear window of this precocious pioneer – is still alive. However, our newly minted e-Golf puts us in an entirely new league. Not only with its range of up to 300 kilometers, but also with its comfort and driving pleasure.

The e-Golf glides smoothly and noiselessly on freeways and country roads alike. Above all, it has a powerful pick-up. You can really feel this when starting up or if you need to pass a tractor ambling down a country road. With 100 kW/136 hp – 21 hp more than its predecessor – the electric motor accelerates the white glider powerfully and without jolting. It’s a great driving sensation, and reminds me of a sports car. Even in Wolfsburg’s bustling traffic, the e-Golf changes lanes with supple ease.

inside editor Dirk Schlinkert test drives the e-Golf.

The batteries in the new e-Golf come from Braunschweig. The plant there began assembling batteries in 2013 when the e-up! compact entered series production. Today, batteries for both the e-up! and the e-Golf are produced here in a hall as big as a football field, by more than a hundred employees. “The car’s lithium-ion battery consists of 264 cells,” says assembly director Martin Maniura (41). He demonstrates how the battery is installed between the axles in the underbody of our e-Golf, which is standing close to the production line.

We drive from the place where the e-Golf gets its power pack to the place where the car is made. Shortly before Wolfsburg there’s a construction site with excavators at work. The lane narrows, and signs on the road announce a speed limit of 30 km/h. That information also appears in a small but clearly visible format on the dashboard between the speedometer and the power meter. This is the work of the Traffic Sign Detection assistant, which now also recognizes signs at new construction sites not yet in the navigation data.

At the end of the 93-kilometer test drive, the car could still go another 146 kilometers.

The last stop is the electric charging station behind the Brand Tower in Wolfsburg. Thomas Mangione (52) knows the charging station like the back of his hand. He has supervised it right from the start. “There’s always a lot of action here,” he says. “It’s very popular with employees.” A card held against the outlet unlocks the system. You stick the charging cable into the socket, a green light goes on, and the car starts charging – it couldn’t be easier! Four hours later and the battery is back up to 80 percent. Mangione has a piece of advice: “Use the rapid charging station. It only takes about three-quarters of an hour to go from 0 to 80 percent.” Precisely as long as a lunch break. That means you can enjoy a currywurst in the cafeteria while the e-Golf replenishes its power – a splendid idea.

Generational reunion at the Wolfsburg plant – the e-Golf and the Citystromer.

» The charging station in Wolfsburg is very popular with employees. «