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Update: Volkswagen announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November that the e-Golf will be coming to Canada, arriving mid-2017.

Tesla has sparked an unprecedented interest in electric vehicles thanks to its upcoming, affordable Model 3. The race is on to get more EVs to market. The all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf is sold in Europe and parts of the United States, but it's not available in Canada.

However, that is likely to change. Soon.

Plugged into a charging unit outside Volkswagen Canada's head office in Ajax, Ont., is an e-Golf.

So what's up with that, Volkswagen?

2016 Volkswagen e-Golf for The Globe and Mail Petrina Gentile for The Globe and Mail

"The eGolf is not PRESENTLY available in Canada, but we are working on a project now and hope to have exciting news soon!" Thomas Tetzlaff, a VW Canada spokesman, writes in an e-mail. The all-caps on the word "presently" are his. Hmmm.

I take the 2016 VW e-Golf for a spin in Wolfsburg, Germany – that's where the electric hatchback and other Golf variants roll off the assembly line. From the outside, it looks like a regular Golf – only subtle design cues differentiate it from its family. Look closely and you'll spot tiny e-Golf badges at the front and rear, a delicate blue line running along the front end, unique 16-inch-wheels and no signs of tailpipes.

Inside, it also resembles a conventional Golf. Blue accents appear on the gear shifter as well as the instrument cluster, which is designed to showcase its EV power. Instead of a traditional tachometer, there's a power display that tells the driver when the motor is ready and when the battery is being recharged via the regenerative braking. Beside the speedometer, another display provides the driving range available, estimated charging time, and the drive mode selected. There are three modes to choose from: Normal, Eco and Eco+ mode, designed to save extra energy. The info also appears on the touch screen in the centre console, which you can access via hand gestures. The lithium-ion battery pack runs underneath the floor so you don't sacrifice space in the cabin or cargo area.

The electric motor in the e-Golf sends power to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. It is strong and feels like a gas-powered Golf. The ride is responsive and nimble. Nail the throttle and the 115 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque comes to life instantly. The steering is tight, the suspension firm. The hatch hugs the road with confidence and security. It's refreshingly quiet, too. As a precaution, a sound system at low speeds is added to warn pedestrians when the vehicle is approaching. A range monitor in the centre screen also displays how using the wiper blades or the heating reduce the available range; it's useful when factoring the distance to your destination. The driving range is approximately 130 kilometres on a full charge. Charging time can range from 13 hours using a conventional clothes dryer outlet to fewer than four hours if you upgrade to a 240-volt home-charging wall box.

The e-Golf isn't built for longer commutes, but for a quick jaunt, it is a smart, practical and fun city runabout.

And worth the wait, Canada.

You'll like this car if ... You're an environmentalist and city dweller who doesn't have a long commute.

TECH SPECS

  • Base price: N/A in Canada yet ($28,995 U.S.)
  • Engine: Electric motor + 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery
  • Transmission/Drive: One-speed automatic
  • Range: 130 kilometres
  • Alternatives: Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV, Fiat 500e

RATINGS

  • Looks: Resembles its siblings with few design cues to differentiate it from the Golf family.
  • Interior: It’s spacious, practical and comfortable with good head, leg and shoulder room for rear-seat riders.
  • Performance: You’d never know this was an electric vehicle – powerful and taut with nimble handling. It’s also fun to drive. But you can only travel about 130 kilometres on a full charge.
  • Technology: Cool centre touch screen that allows hand gestures for quick and easy access to vital driver info such as the available driving range.
  • Cargo: Equally as spacious as its siblings. Plus, the second-row seats also fold down for added cargo-carrying capacity.

The Verdict

7.5

A cute, compact, environmentally friendly city car, but if you have a long commute, a gas-powered Golf might be the better bet.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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