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2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE

The Golf lineup is one of the most versatile in the world. If you take all of the engines available, you’ll find that it has gasoline, diesel , CNG and electric models available in the global market, but there are still some holes to fill, according to VW. These holes include the plug-in hybrid segment and the fuel cell market.

Well, the former will be filled as of the 2014 Geneva Auto Show — the fuel cell variant is still in development — as Volkswagen has prepared the Golf GTE, which is a plug-in hybrid that bridges the GTI and e-Golf . Volkswagen built this bridge by taking small elements from both the e-Golf and Golf GTI, and tossing them all into the GTE model.

This little German hatchback is ready to put the world on notice, most notably the BMW i3, that the time is now to start developing new technology.

So, does the GTE live up to all its hype, or is it simply another sub-par plug-in hybrid that has no rear benefits? Click past the jump to read more about the Golf GTE and find out what I think.

Exterior

Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen Golf GTE

Volkswagen’s goal when designing the Golf GTE was to merge the signature elements of the e-Golf and Golf GTI into one model, and it did just that. The e-Golf signatures are made clear through the C-shaped daytime running lights, dual LED headlights, and LED taillights, parking lights and turn signals. From the GTI, the Golf GTE borrowed all of the colored highlights on the body, but instead of being red like the GTI, they are blur on the GTE. It also takes its side skirts and roof-edge spoiler from its GTI cousin.

The only part of the exterior that is specific to the GTI — except the blue highlights — are the aluminum-alloy wheels. These wheels come standard in 16 inches, but 17- and 18-inch wheels are optional.

Interior

Volkswagen Golf GTE

On the inside, the GTE takes more cues from the GTI with highlight stitching on the steering wheel, gear shift knob, floor mats and seats in blue — the GTI’s stitching is red. The GTE also gains ambient lighting in blue to tie it all together. The rest of the interior is pretty much run-of-the-mill Golf, with exception of the touchscreen.

The GTE comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen "Composition Media" radio, but you can upgrade to the "Discover Pro" audio and navigation system for a fee. These systems work just like any other Golf, but they also feature a slew of other functions that are specific to the GTE, like driving range monitor, energy flow display, zero-emissions statistics, e-manager and 360-degree driving range (with navigation only).

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The energy flow display shows the flow of electricity in and out when accelerating and braking. Blue arrows indicate you are expelling energy and green arrows indicate you are recharging — through regenerative braking, for example. The e-manager feature allows you to set predetermined time for the battery to charge or come up to operating temperature for maximum range. Additionally, it allows you to pre-warm or cool the car while it is plugged in. 360-degree range shows you the electric-only range of the car via the navigation system in the form of a circle on the map. Lastly, the power meter shows you the amount of power leaving the battery, the intensity of the regenerative braking and electric driving range.

Overall, I have to tip my hat to VW for going simple with the GTE, and not loading it up with too much useless stuff.

Drivetrain

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Under its hood, the GTE is a perfect blend of thrifty plug-in hybrid and sports hatchback. On the gas-burning side, there is a 1.4-liter TSI engine that cranks up 148 horsepower, and on the electric side is a 101-horsepower electric motor that is inside the transmission. Combining the gas engine and electric motor nets the Golf GTE a total output of 201 ponies and 258 pound-feet of twist, which is one horsepower 51 pound-feet more than the Golf GTI. All of this power is routed through a six-speed GSG trans that VW specially tuned for hybrid vehicles.

With both propulsion systems on full-go, the Gold GTE leaps top 62 mph in just 7.6 seconds — roughly 7.4 seconds to 60 mph — and up to 135 mph. The 0-to-60 time is about 1.2 seconds slower than the GTI, but remember that the battery and electronics make the GTI about 260 pounds heavier than the GTI — 3,116 pounds to 3,360 pounds

When you cut it all in half and run on electric only, the top speed drops to 81 mph. On electricity alone, the GTE can travel up to 31 miles and its combined range is an outlandish 584 miles, netting it 130 MPGe.

Powering the electric motor is an 8.8 kW lithium-ion battery that takes just 3 to 3.5 hours to charge from a conventional plug, or 2.5 hours on a charging station of wall box charger.

Gasoline engineFour-cylinder 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged
Gasoline output148 HP
Electric output101 HP
Combined output201 HP
Combined Torque258 lbs-ft
Top speed135 mph
0 to 62 mph7.6 seconds
Electric range31 miles
Overall range584 miles
Fuel economy130 mpg

Prices

Volkswagen Golf GTE

There is no mention of pricing, nor is there any mention of the GTE making it to the U.S. We will see the debut in Geneva, and will likely learn a little more then.

Competition

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

To put the Prius Plug-In as a competitor to the GTE is a tough one, but it is as close as we can think of. At just 134 horsepower, the Prius can’t come close to hanging with the GTE, and its look it really dated. Add to that a $29,000 starting price, and I say wait to see where the GTE’s price comes in at.

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

The Focus Electric is getting a little closer to ten GTE’s class, but still it only has 143 horsepower and takes nearly 10 seconds to hit 60 mph. It’s looks are certainly more in line with the GTE too.

BMW i3

BMW i3

The i3 is a bit of a wildcard here, as its base price of $42,275 will likely be much higher than the Golf GTE, but it does match up with it in terms of performance and drivetrain. Under the i3’s hood is a 125 kW electric motor that cranks out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This’ll launch the luxo-hatch to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds and up to 93 mph. The i3 has a range of 80 to 100 miles and takes just three hours to charge. You can also opt for a two-cylinder generator to help extend the i3’s range.

Conclusion

Volkswagen Golf GTE

I wear my love for hybrids and EVs on my sleeve, but only for ones that perform well. The Volkswagen GTE is certainly one that I am already falling in love with. I can only hope that it makes its way to the U.S., and retains all of the awesomeness that Volkswagen released today.

LOVE IT
  • Huge MPGe rating
  • Touch of both the GTI and eGolf
  • Zippy performance
  • Fast charging
LEAVE IT
  • Like going to be pricey
  • Slower than the GTI
  • Electric-only range is above average, but still low

Press Release

Volkswagen is the first automaker worldwide to offer a model line with a full range of conventional and alternative powertrains. The new Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid, which will be presented at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show is the fifth powertrain to be offered in the Golf, adding to gasoline, diesel, CNG and full electric versions. The Golf GTE has an NEDC hybrid combined fuel economy rating of 157 mpg (equivalent to 35 g of CO2) and has an all-electric range of 31 miles along with an overall range of 584 miles.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

GTI, GTD, GTE

The Golf GTE name is in line with the GTI and GTD abbreviations—two sporty icons of the Golf range. The first GTI in 1976 invented the term "hot hatch" and is currently the most successful compact sports car in the world. The "I" in the name stands for electronic fuel injection while the "D" in GTD, introduced for the first time in 1982, stands for diesel fuel injection. The latest versions of these two best-selling Golf sports cars were introduced in 2013. Now Volkswagen has transferred its sporty compact car philosophy to a third model—the Golf GTE.

The new VW Golf GTE has two engines: a 1.4-liter 148 horsepower turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine and a 101 hp electric motor. These combine to provide the stated system power of 201 hp. If the electric motor is the sole source for propulsive power, the Golf GTE is capable of speeds of up to 81 mph. When the full power of the system is harnessed, the GTE sprints from 0 to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 7.6 seconds and achieves a top speed of 135 mph on the autobahn and race courses. Of more significance is the superior pulling power of the Golf GTE thanks to its alliance of a gasoline engine and electric motor that produces a maximum torque of 258 lb-ft. This torque sets this first "GTE" apart from other plug-in hybrid models.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

If the battery is charged using a wallbox or a public charging station, the charging time is shortened to approximately two and a half hours. Thanks to the control options on the Golf GTE, the driver can also ensure on longer trips that only the electric motor is used in an urban area.Despite its power and torque, the Volkswagen Golf GTE remains one of the world’s most efficient cars. If you mainly run short distances, you can drive in emissions-free all-electric mode for days, weeks, and months. The battery takes about three and a half hours to charge fully from a conventional wall outlet.

The automobile revolution has a name - MQB

The variety of products in the Golf lineup— TSI (including GTI), TDI® (including GTD), TGI (powered by CNG), e-Golf, and Golf GTE—is made possible by the modular transverse matrix, abbreviated to MQB. This modular technology platform, initially introduced with the current Golf in 2012, is synonymous with an automotive revolution because Volkswagen engineers have created the prerequisites for a high-volume model, such as the Golf, to accept all drive types. This explains why Golf models with gasoline, diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid drives can be manufactured from bumper to bumper at Volkswagen factories. As soon as developments make it possible, the first Golf with a hydrogen fuel cell will become part of the range.

Golf GTE plug-in hybrid system

Volkswagen Golf GTE

As mentioned, the new Volkswagen Golf GTE is driven by a 148-hp TSI turbocharged and direct-injection gasoline engine and a 101-hp electric motor. The electric motor is supplied with power from a high-voltage 8.8 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that is charged from a socket behind the VW logo in the radiator grille. The battery weighs 265 pounds, or about eight percent of the GTE’s 3360-pound curb weight. The GTE has a six-speed DSG® automatic transmission that was developed specifically for hybrid vehicles.

Volkswagen integrated the electric motor in the transmission housing

Additional hybrid drive components also include the power electronics (which converts the battery’s direct current to alternating current for the electric motor) and a charger. An electro-mechanical brake servo and an electric air-conditioning compressor safeguard optimal and energy-efficient operation of the brakes and air conditioning, especially for the GTE’s "e-mode".

The Golf GTE can be driven in various intuitively named modes

For instance, the driver can push a button to intentionally switch to the "e-mode" which makes the Golf GTE a zero-emissions vehicle. The driver can also use the button to switch to "GTE mode", which activates the sporty side of this new Golf.

Design and features

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The Volkswagen Golf GTE contains a pioneering, environmentally friendly, and sporty plug-in hybrid system. All of this is combined with a suspension that offers equally sporty handling and high levels of comfort.

Exterior

Volkswagen Head Designer Klaus Bischoff’s crew created a look that merges GTI insignia with those of the e-Golf, creating an unmistakable identity. Klaus Bischoff explains the differences: "The presence of the electric drive is visually expressed by the prominent C-signature of the daytime running lights on the Golf GTE. Meanwhile, all other front design elements bridge to the GTI."

In those places where red dominates on the GTI, blue is used in the GTE. Bischoff continues: "A radiator crossbar running into the headlights provides further sporty accents within the context of Volkswagen electric mobility." Like the e-Golf, the four-door Golf GTE will launch with LED dual headlights as standard. The turn signals, parking light, and smoked numberplate lighting also use LED technology. Side skirts and a roof-edge spoiler provide further parallels with the GTI and GTD. Meanwhile, the aerodynamic 16-inch (standard), 17-inch, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels were designed especially for the GTE.

Interior

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Like the exterior, the sporty interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTE reveals a clear relationship to its other two GT series counterparts. However, just as on the exterior, the interior’s red accents have also turned to blue. Klaus Bischoff says: "Volkswagen’s e-mobility color of blue creates attractive contrasts in the car’s seating, decorative seams, and material design. Moreover, the blue ambience lighting builds a visual bridge to the world of e-mobility." The light blue decorative seams on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, on the edges of the floormats, on the seats, and on the shifter grip are perfectly matched with the exterior features of the Golf GTE.

Touchscreen

All Golf cars are equipped with a touchscreen. In the case of the VW Golf GTE the high-resolution 6.5-inch "Composition Media" radio system is standard. The "Discover Pro" radio-navigation system is available as an option. Both units are equipped with many additional functions on the GTE. These include a "driving range monitor", an "energy flow display", "zero emission statistics", "e-manager", and—with the optional navigation system—the "360° driving range". Additionally, all Golf GTE owners can download the "Volkswagen Car-Net e-Remote" app to their smartphone free-of-charge and use it to control functions and access information.

Driving range monitor

Volkswagen Golf GTE

shows the current electric driving range of the GTE as well as the additional driving range potential from deactivating any auxiliary features that consume electricity.

Energy flow display

shows the power flow when accelerating (blue arrows) and when braking or regenerating (green arrows) as animated graphics.

e-manager

can program up to three departure and charging times; the Volkswagen Golf GTE ensures the set temperature and battery charge status at a defined time. Parallel to this, heating or cooling of the interior can be activated using standard air-conditioning while charging. Air conditioning therefore does not hinder the battery charging process, thereby extending the electric range.

360° range

the current radius in "e-mode" is shown by the 360° range in the local map. The inner area shows the range for an outward and return trip, the outer area the range for a one-way drive. Charging stations can be displayed and incorporated in the route as intermediate stopovers.

Car-Net e-Remote

Using the "Volkswagen Car-Net e-Remote" app it is also possible to make several of these settings and requests for information via a smartphone or the Car-Net website. In detail, the app can program the departure time, air conditioning, charging the battery, accessing vehicle data, and the vehicle’s status.

Power meter

The power meter supplements the tachometer on the left-hand side of the instrument cluster; it displays how much system power is currently being used or the intensity of battery regeneration. The speedometer remains on the right-hand side. The color display which is located between the power meter and the speedometer (multifunction display "Plus") also permanently shows the electrical driving range and the current operating mode.



What is your take?

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