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Volkswagen e-Golf and Golf Plug-in Hybrid 2013: First Drive

VW left the hybrid and electric car business to others while it got its alternative-powertrain house in order. Now, it’s in the game and it means to win…

Volkswagen Golf Plug-In Hybrid and e-Golf

International Launch
Wolfsburg, Germany

What we liked
>> Silken integration to Golf shapes, cabins
>> Strong power delivery
>> Something for everyone

Not so much
>> Hybrid crossover is jerky
>> Hefty weight penalty
>> Unknown local pricing

>> VW answers alternative-fuel questions
Volkswagen is gunning for Toyota’s global Number One spot and, now, it’s very specifically gunning for the Prius.

Unlike Toyota’s unique model strategy, though, Volkswagen will tackle Prius with a plug-in hybrid version of an existing bodyshell.

Thus, the Plug-In Hybrid Golf will be on sale in 2014. And while it apes the Prius in being a parallel hybrid, VW thinks it’s stolen a march on the Toyota by delivering 50km of electric-only range and by giving the Golf PIH a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.6 seconds, which is in the same ballpark as the Golf GTD.

And it hasn’t stopped there. VW boss, Martin Winterkorn, sparked off a war of words with Renault-Nissan boss, Carlos Ghosn, when he announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show that VW had its sights set on becoming the biggest seller of electric cars in the world by 2018. Ghosn, whose brands offered everything from the Nissan Leaf to the Renault Zoe and Twizy, used the corporate lingo version of a smackdown.

So there’s a zero-emission version of Europe’s usual number one nameplate and, for those who want to go further, a hybrid version with zero-emission capability as well. That’s on top of diesel, petrol, ethanol (for South America) and dual-fuel (CNG/petrol) models as well.

>> Smooth, sophisticated and asks few compromises in daily life.
Volkswagen has taken its own sweet time delivering a zero-emission version of its biggest seller, but the boffins have clearly been working on this car for some time.

Due on sale in the European spring next year, the e-Golf (which will follow the smaller e-Up on sale, and thus will be VW’s second ZEV) will be pitched towards the top end of the current Golf range but beneath BMW’s bet-the-farm i3.


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