Might The Long Road To Redemption Begin Here? The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
There is no question that Volkswagen has a long road ahead of it in recovering from the TDI emissions cheating scandal, and that it really has only just turned onto the on-ramp.  Not only does it have to repair a global brand image, but it needs...in a hurry...to salvage whatever cred it has in the green community.  The e-Golf could help.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf.
We had our week in the e-Golf a few weeks before the scandal broke and were able to evaluate it on its own merits.  It has all the virtues of a Golf hatchback in terms of build quality, utility and handling.  Unlike many EVs we've tested, the promised range was accurate and occasionally conservative (we did better than it said we would).

What holds it back is the lack of a "look at me" factor.  As we've discussed before, the best-selling EVs tend to be either flamboyantly styled, exclusively electric models that can't be confused for a gasoline version of the same car, or both.  The e-Golf, until you get close enough to read the badge on the tail, looks for all the world like any other Golf.

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf interior
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf interior.
That interchangeability with fossil-fuel Golfs continues in the cockpit as well.  Apart from a couple of displays, there's nothing that shouts that you've chosen to go electric.

Our tester was the top-of-the-line SEL Premium.  Loaded with pretty much every bell and whistle you can get on a Golf (rearview camera, nav, 8-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and pushbutton start) for one price: $34,445. With $820 destination charge, the bottom line was $36,265 before government incentives.  And you can get a lower-trim model for $29,815.

The EPA estimate is a combined equivalent of 116 miles per gallon.  And again, the e-Golf is one of the few electrics that has allowed us our 50-mile per day roundtrip to the day job plus around-town errands without a single moment of range anxiety in the week we drove it.

Is it good?  Yes.  Can it save VW and its green image?  Not immediately.  For starters, it's only available in 10 states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) and the District of Columbia.  It'll take a lot to spread that to 40 additional states, especially in the current situation.