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Check out this week's Life on Cars column

Check out this week's Life on Cars column

by Tom Martin (January 2021)

Apologies this week if you’re a paid-up subscriber to Oven Enthusiast. I care not whether my dinner’s cooked using gas or electricity – merely that the machine entrusted with the task can heat sausages beyond the point where they’ll give me gastroenteritis and can tackle a stuffed turkey once a year.

 

Which is why Volkswagen’s decision to quietly phase out the E-Golf saddens me slightly. While it sounds like a Boltonian way of dismissing an invitation to spend an afternoon at the Royal Birkdale, it’s actually an all-electric version of Europe’s best-selling hatchback. Which meant that for all the talk of zero emissions motoring, a 144-mile range and the ability to charge up to 80 per cent of its battery in the time it takes to enjoy a Starbucks, it does everything else in a nice, reassuring, Golf-ish way. In the same way that a Golf GTI can crack 60mph in 6.3 seconds, but does everything else in a nice, reassuring, Golf-ish way, and the Golf Estate has 1642 litres of loadspace for your clobber and a nifty device that opens the tailgate when you waggle your foot beneath the rear bumper but does everything else…well, you get the idea. People like the Golf because it’s a Golf – and then go from there.

 

The main reason for buying the E-Golf’s replacement, the ID.3, on the other hand is because it’s an electric car. A ruddy good one, if the early reviews are right, but it suffers from the same issue encountered by early adopters of the Nissan LEAF and Renault Zoe. You’re buying it primarily because of what it runs on, rather than what it is.

 

Happily, the chaps at VW can counter this by saying that it’s the first of an entire range engineered from the ground up to operate on electricity alone. So they should, given the collective lunge both here and on the continent towards the sale of new petrol and diesel cars being outlawed. But if they’re going to sway car nuts, it’s got to be about so much more than simply what it runs on.

 

Tesla’s Model X could run on diced onions and I’d still love it – it’s a big people mover that just happens to have Delorean-esque rear doors that open upwards, an enormous dashboard display that lets you pretend you’re in the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and a setting that allows you to outrun just about everything from the lights. My favourite electric car, the Renault Twizy, is a bonkers two-seater with no doors and suspension set up by people who did the Clio V6 – the fact that it’s electric is nice, but not the overriding reason why you’d want one. The ID.3 will have to offer much more than being a really good hatchback, because VW already does one of those. It’s called the Golf.

 

Happily, VW’s already on it, and apparently in the not-too-distant future will announce an ID.3 R – an all-electric hot hatch. An oven GTI, if you will…

 

 

 

David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly.

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