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Comparison: 2019 Nissan LEAF vs 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf

Quebec is the sixth largest market in the world for the market penetration of EVs with a share now at 6.36% and climbing. Norway is far ahead of everyone with 47% penetration, with Iceland second at just over 10.8% followed by California (7.8%), Sweden (7.4%) and the Netherlands (7.0%). 

According to the AVEQ (Association des véhicules électriques du Québec), there are just over 66,000 EVs on the road in Quebec right now, but a big concern for many consumers continues to be price point. We chose two of the more-affordable EVs for our comparison.

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2019 Nissan LEAF

The LEAF is a pioneer in the world of EVs and the best-selling electric vehicle in the world. The range it offered was not questioned in its early days has slowly gotten less impressive in the face of newer, more-efficient models and Nissan has had to react with a LEAF Plus model designed to catch up on the range front. For many buyers, however, the less-expensive basic version may be enough for their needs. 

The entry-level model does promises 240 km of range (it’s about 360 for the LEAF Plus), and this year it gets Nissan’s new rear-door alert system. It reminds the driver to check if the rear seats are empty. The LEAF is still available in S, SV and SL versions. Prices have gone up this year, however.

All versions offer the same electric motor that delivers 147 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque and a 1-speed transmission. This second-generation LEAF introduced a one-pedal system that uses regenerative braking to perform most of the stopping work, reducing brake wear.

The features of the basic S version include 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. There are also automatic LED headlights, heated exterior mirrors and LED daytime running lights. The passive keyless entry system is also included, as well as automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, four-way driver and front passenger seat settings, fabric seats and heated leather steering wheel. 

You also get a 4-speaker audio system with a 5.0-inch touch screen, satellite radio and a USB input.

The SV version adds 17-inch alloy wheels as well as fog lights. Other features include a garage door opener, automatic high beams and an electronic parking brake. 

Photo: Nissan

Inside, the LEAF SV offers an 8-way adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, 7.0-inch multimedia display, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 6-speaker audio system. 

Finally, SL models feature a 360-degree outdoor camera system, leather seats and a 7-speaker audio system.

Advanced security features are included in the SV and SL models, which get blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and lane departure warning. There’s also the ProPilot Assist system, considered an advanced intelligent cruise control system that helps keep you centered in your lane.

Photo: Nissan

On the road, it takes a little getting used to the e-Pedal that enforces changes to your driving habits, but it quickly becomes second nature. The LEAF focuses on comfort and a smooth suspension; it’s also surprisingly resilient and able to cope with our infamous Canadian roads with ease and the drive delivers enough punch to keep a smile on your face as you scoot pas the gas pump.

Consult our listing of pre-owned Nissan LEAF vehicles available in your region of Canada

2019 Volkswagen e-Golf

Photo: Volkswagen

After setting its sights on and devoting huge sums of money to diesel technologies, Volkswagen, caught tricking software on its diesel models, has changed its tune and is firmly committed to going green. 

While we await the new models from the I.D range of all-electric vehicles that should start pouring forth as of next year, VW offers the e-Golf.

This electric version of the popular Golf replaces the turbocharged gas engine with an electric motor and a battery that promises 200 km of range. For 2019, the e-Golf is unchanged, safe for a slightly redesigned front bumper and an expanded exterior paint options list that now includes 40 colours. 

Photo: Volkswagen

The powertrain of the e-Golf delivers a total output of 136 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. It's not the most powerful in the family, but in return it’s clean and you don’t spend a dime at the pump.

The e-Golf is only available as a five-door model. Standard equipment includes an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen, keyless passive entry, auto-dimming rear view mirror and automatic climate control. Also included are heated fabric seats, heated windshield, LED headlights and taillights, rear view camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

VW also lets you option in leather seats and a technological package including a larger touch screen with gesture control and wireless smartphone/tablet integration. 

Photo: Volkswagen

A driver’s assistant package provides active safety features such as blind spot assist, cruise control, collision avoidance system with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, traffic-jam and parking assist and a group of fully digital configurable gauges that looks a lot like Audi's virtual cockpit.

Of all the electric vehicles on the road, e-Golf is at the top of the list for driving pleasure. The e-Golf keeps the likable driving dynamics that made the reputation of the brand and that many buyers are looking for. You’ll almost forget you’re driving an electric vehicle. The power is there and the handling is precise, responsive and delivers strong feedback beautiful sensations.

Conclusion
It’s clear that in both cases, you’ll not get more than 125 to 130 km of range during the winter. But not everyone needs a 400-km range. If your daily traveling distance is fixed and 200 km are enough for you in the summer, here are two vehicles that will give you more bang for your buck.

 

Consult our listing of pre-owned Volkswagen Golf vehicles available in your region of Canada

Advantage Nissan LEAF

The LEAF wins in terms of range with 242 km versus 201 for the e-Golf. It’s also the one that offers the most power with 147 total hp versus 134 for the e-Golf.

Advantage Volkswagen e-Golf

Behind the wheel, the e-Golf is more fun to drive and its widely-known look and strong appeal are big selling points for many buyers. The e-Golf also offers better warranty coverage than the LEAF.

Similarities

The starting prices are virtually identical, and both models offer the advantage of being very practical hatchback cars.

Verdict

Keeping in mind that long trips will be complicated affairs with both of these EVs, our choice goes to the e-Golf, which despite its more-limited range offers geuine driving pleasure that places it a notch above the LEAF. That said, it's a matter of preference, because the LEAF is also pretty positive to drive and a very good choice.

2019 Nissan LEAF

We like

Comfortable ride
Compliant suspension
Realistic price

We like less

Menu on the screen is a bit complicated
Narrow cabin
A style that does not please everyone

2019 Volkswagen e-Golf

We like

Inspiring driving
Practical cargo space
Precise handling

We like less

Limited range
Not many for sale at dealerships

...   
 Spécifications  
  2019 Volkswagen e-Golf 2019 Nissan LEAF 
 Transmission1-speed auto1-speed auto  
 DrivetrainFWDFWD
 Range201 km242 km
    
 Engine  
 Typeelectricelectric
 Output134 hp147 hp
 Torque214 lb-ft236 lb-ft
 Capacities  
 Cargo space460 L, 1 490 L668 L, 850 L
 Dimensions  
 Length4268 mm4480 mm
 Width1799 mm1790 mm
 Height1443 mm1560 mm
 Wheelbase2637 mm2700 mm
 Warranty4 yrs/80,000 km3 yrs/60,000 km
 Price$36,720 $36,798