2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Gets EPA Rating of 83 Miles, 116 MPGe, Placing it in Direct Competition With the Nissan LEAF

Volkswagen’s highly-anticipated e-Golf, the German automaker’s first fully-electric car to go on sale in the U.S., has received its official EPA ratings. At 83 miles per charge at a fuel efficiency of 116 MPGe, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf finds itself on an almost equal par in terms of range and efficiency with the 2014 Nissan LEAF, the world’s most successful electric car to date.

The e-Golf is a direct competitor to the Nissan LEAF.

The e-Golf is a direct competitor to the Nissan LEAF.

 

While the LEAF’s official EPA range is slightly further at 84 miles per charge, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf’s energy efficiency of 116 MPGe combined (29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles) places it slightly above that of the LEAF’s 114 MPGe combined (30 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles). Look a bit deeper, and we note that while both cars have identical fuel economy in the city, the e-Golf is slightly more efficient on the highway.

That’s probably down to the fact that while both cars have the same coefficient of drag as one another, the e-Golf is some 201 pound lighter than the slightly larger Nissan LEAF. In fact, while the LEAF is technically classed by the EPA as a mid-sized car, the e-Golf sneaks into the compact vehicle segment.

Continuing with the comparisons between the two cars, primarily because the e-Golf’s closest competitor is the LEAF, the e-Golf’s smaller dimensions means its luggage space with all five seats occupied is a little smaller a than the LEAF (22.8 cu feet to 23.6 cu feet). Importantly however, there’s no intrusion into the vehicle cabin from the battery pack, meaning there’s the same sub-floor cargo area beneath the e-Golf’s main load bay as you’d find in any other Volkswagen Golf on the market today.  There’s also no humps or bumps, meaning the rear seats can be folded to create a completely flat 52.7 cubic feet load bay space from the hatch all the way to the front seats when needed. In this configuration, the e-Golf trumps the LEAF’s 30 cubic feet capacity.

Under the hood, you’ll find an 85 kilowatt electric motor, just five kilowatts bigger than the LEAF, while the e-Golf’s battery pack is just 200 watt-hours bigger than the LEAF’s 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack. But since the pack is liquid cooled rather than air cooled, expect a more consistent performance from the e-Golf under mixed weather conditions, and less noticeable range-drop in winter.

The e-Golf is powerful, well-built and refined, so we can understand why people want it.

The e-Golf is powerful, well-built and refined, so we can understand why people want it.

Unlike the European-market e-Golf models, the U.S. market 2015 e-Golf comes with a 7.2 kilowatt on-board charger rather than the 3 kilowatt on-board charger found in Europe. This means charging from a level 2, 32 amp charging station will take just four hours. Like the European-spec model that’s been on sale for a few months now, the U.S. e-Golf comes with CCS DC quick charging as standard, meaning you can charge the battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in as little as 30 minutes from a compatible DC CCS charging station.

At a suggested sticker price of $36,265 before incentives but including handling and shipping fees, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is only available in top-spec SEL trim, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and seats, dual-zone climate control, 5.8 inch touchscreen, LED headlights, heated front seats, Bluetooth and keyless entry. That puts the e-Golf roughly on par with the high-end 2015 Nissan LEAF SL, which has a similar level of trim and appointment to the e-Golf.

The e-Golf is smaller than the Nissan LEAF, but competes well in terms of spec, trim and range.

The e-Golf is smaller than the Nissan LEAF, but competes well in terms of spec, trim and range.

Sadly however, the e-Golf won’t be as easy to buy in the U.S. as the Nissan LEAF, with the e-Golf initially only available in the usual ‘compliance car’ launch markets of California, Oregon, Washington DC, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

But if you’re in the market for a high-end plug-in with a range of somewhere around the 80 mile mark and happen to live in one of the launch markets, we think you owe it to yourself to test-drive both the LEAF and the e-Golf. While the LEAF emphasises the futuristic and tech-filled future of electric cars, the e-Golf is more conventional in its design and feel, making it more suited to first-time plug-in drivers who don’t want to scream their eco credentials from the roof tops.

And with more driving modes to choose from and three different user-selectable regenerative braking strengths, we think many will prefer the more connected driving experience of the German-made e-Golf over the Japanese LEAF.

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  • jeffsongster

    Are you sure about liquid cooling of the pack… It was definitely rumoured in the early models.. But then I remember others saying it was not in final release of Golf event.

    • Well spotted! I was relying on some old notes of mine from the early test-drives. Thanks for pointing that one out, and I’ve double-checked. You’re right: no water cooling on the production model.

      • jeffsongster

        Thanks for what you do… Really enjoy the site and videos.

      • That is interesting that another major tier manufacturer chooses passive cooling over active cooling. Be interesting to see how the battery holds up in the hot states. I suppose Southern California will be the first we’ll see of its durability performance.

  • The e-Golf sounds enticing on the surface, but some may have concerns that it may not keep up when charging with active EV drivers in daily use. Both lower power AC charging and a lower battery pack voltage will limit charging speeds somewhat.nn1. The AC charger for Europe is only 3.6 kW while most BEVs are now including 6+ kW standard. More significantly there is no AC 3-phase charging ability, something that could have enabled 22 or 43 kW AC charging. Thankfully the N. American offers 7.2 kW AC, but is odd that not included internationally. FYI: the 6 kW AC charger upgrade is one of the LEAFs most selected options (next to heat-pump heating) in 2013+ LEAFs.nn2. The e-Golf nominal battery pack voltage is 323V vs. LEAFs 360V nominal voltage. For a given current, the higher voltage will charge at higher power levels. neg: 100A DC charger will charge a LEAF at 38 kW, while the e-Golf will be slightly slower at 32 kW. (~4-5 on 30 min charge) Not a significant real-world difference, but of note a direct comparison. nnThe e-Golf does ease ahead of the LEAF with a 85 kW motor vs. the LEAFs 80 kW motor. Another area the e-Golf might place ahead of the LEAF is it’s ReGenitive breaking (believe it has flappers on the steering wheel to adjust). nnIt will be interesting to see how the e-Golf competes against the LEAF, and less so vs. the Kia Soul EV. All three will give consumers good choices u2026 nice to see more competitive options and how they evolve in the next few years. 🙂