Meet the most efficient model in the new Golf range

With Dieselgate still not just an ugly distant memory in the back of Volkswagen’s brain, Wolfsburg looks like it’s leading the electrification revolution in the car world, driven by the traction offered by the behemoth that is the Volkswagen Group. But Volkswagen, as a brand, irrespective of what its other sisters and brothers are doing, has become synonymous with electrification plans of all sorts.

This so-called offensive will ultimately rub off on VW’s future models. TheID.3 is already out of the bag, but for now, the company is busy at work preparing the new Golf 8 for debut. When that finally happens on October the 24th, the new Golf will also come as a mild-hybrid model, the first in its history, as well as in the shape of conventionally-powered versions (i.e., diesel and gasoline variants). What’s more, the VW Golf will also receive a plug-in hybrid iteration under the GTE moniker, but no e-Golf model - since the ID.3 is already here to cover the all-electric ground. So with the e-Golf out of the scene, we’ll focus on the new VW Golf 8 GTE, which was caught during pre-production tests by our spy photographers.

Exterior

  • New wheel design, possibly aero-optimized
  • Revamped LED headlights
  • LED taillights, Matrix LED tech optional
  • Tweaked front grille
  • GTE badging
  • Slightly sloping roofline
2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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The outgoing Volkswagen Golf GTE would be a good reference in trying to guesstimate what the eight-generation Golf GTE might have in store as far as looks are concerned. Now, Volkswagen is not exactly known for its inclination towards sexy design, but the current GTE does have a couple of details that help it stand out from your run-of-the-mill crop of Golfs.

Those are evident immediately in the front, where the offset GTE badge complements the white-blue strip that connects the headlights at the bottom of the grille.

The GTE also sports LED daytime running lights, and while we don’t know if the Golf 8 GTE will have those (it probably will), we expect subtle (blue-ish, maybe) elements that would let one know this is the plug-in-hybrid Golf and not any other kind.

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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The GTE treatment is bound to be even less conspicuous at the back - the current model wears the GTE badge on the left-hand side and sports taillights decorated by a thin, light blue tripe, and that’s about it.

Now, here’s what we know for sure, based on the spy shots our photographers have been able to provide: the new Golf 8 GTE will have the charging port on the left front fender (the current GTE has it beneath the VW logo on the front fascia) and a tweaked grille - not by much, this is still VW we’re talking about here.

As you can see in the photo gallery, the pre-production prototypes have no camouflage whatsoever covering their metal, and if you look closely, you’ll even spot a new wheel design. Speaking of wheels, the new VW Golf 8 GTE is a prime candidate for aero-optimized wheels (offered as standard or as optional features) wrapped in low-resistance tires. The new Golf will retain the hatchback shape, but VW will focus heavily on the tech-y side. What’s more, Motor1 reports that the new Golf (therefore, the GTE as well) will get LED cluster headlights and taillights with integrated turn signals, with optional Matrix LED headlights populating the options list. The test mules don’t have any GTE badges to show their ilk, but those can be easily fitted afterward. We do like the new headlight cluster graphics as well as the slightly sloping roofline - come to think of it, this design cue makes the new Golf look a lot like the new Ford Focus when seen from the side.

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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In any case, we’ll know more once Volkswagen takes the wraps off its eighth-gen Golf hatchback.

Interior

  • Dual digital displays
  • Conservative design
  • GTE badges and blue accents
  • Top-notch ergonomics and practicality are expected
  • Piano Black inserts could be a thing
  • Quality materials overall
2020 Volkswagen Golf
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The new Golf 8 GTE’s cabin is where we’ll see most of the changes, as spy photos have already revealed the high infusion of technology that awaits the new VW Golf. Like it was the case with the exterior, the reshaped interior of the new Golf will also be found inside the plug-in hybrid GTE variant. What does that mean?

Well, for starters, don’t expect too much flair in terms of actual design, shapes, colors, and whatnot.

As it’s customary in the industry, the new Golf will get a lot of the goodies introduced by its larger brother, the Touareg. Again, it’s spy shots we have to look for here: two tablet-like displays will dominate the upper dashboard area (most likely as an optional feature), but they won’t be that big as those found inside the Touareg SUV.

On the practicality front, there’s not much we can speculate on except VW’s pragmatism when it comes to how well the current Golf mixes passenger space and comfort, traits that will no doubt be transmitted to the GTE version.

The outgoing Golf is the king of hatchbacks when it comes to ergonomics, cabin utility, and storage solutions, therefore, it’s hard to imagine that VW is going to aim for anything less than that - after all, the logical thing to do here would be to keep the Golf on top of its game and in front of its stiff competition when it comes to what sort of treatment can the cabin offer to both the driver and other passengers.

2020 Volkswagen Golf Spyshots
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We also expect the materials to be top-notch for this segment, perhaps spiced up a bit in the same manner as the exterior - not to necessarily catch the eye, but to let occupants know that they sit inside a GTE variant. That being said, there’s a high chance we could also see VW’s material of choice - Piano Black, that is - as well as areas covered in harsher plastics - especially where the eye can’t spot them without a closer look.

Drivetrain

  • Powertrain could be borrowed from the Passat GTE
  • 156-horsepower 1.4-liter gasoline engine
  • 115-horsepower e-motor
  • Combined system output of 218 horsepower
  • Six-speed dual-clutch gearbox
  • All-electric range of around 50 kilometers (31 miles) or more
2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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This is where the magic will happen for the new VW Golf 8 GTE, and probably the most decisive aspect of the car itself. Just to put things into perspective, we’ll look once again at the current Golf GTE, which is powered by a 1.4-liter TSI gasoline engine rated at 110 kilowatts (150 PS, 148 horsepower) twinned to an electric motor that develops 75 kilowatts (102 PS, 101 horsepower). The overall system power output is rated at 150 kilowatts (204 PS, 201 horsepower), which is handled by a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox that’s been specifically retuned for use in a hybrid vehicle. The current GTE can also cover about 50 kilometers (31 miles) in full-electric mode.

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTE specifications
Drive system 1.4-liter TSI + Electric
Total output 201 HP
Total torque 258 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 7.6 seconds
Top Speed 135 mph
Electric Range 31 miles
Total Range 580 miles

As far as the new Golf 8 GTE PHEV is concerned, it will sit on the same MQB platform and the drivetrain equation might include the same duo as seen in the Passat GTE: a 1.4-liter gasoline engine with 156 horsepower on tap paired to an electric motor good for 115 horsepower.

If that’s the case, the combined system output would be 218 horsepower, just 17 horsepower more than the current Golf GTE.
2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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It’s also worth mentioning that the new Golf will be the first in a long family tree to feature mild-hybrid bits and bobs, or what Volkswagen calls mHEV (mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle), an electric setup that features 48-volt technology.

The system does not feature a battery pack that can be recharged by plugging in the car to a power outlet but instead uses a 48-volt belt starter generator and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery mounted under the passenger seat. It also supports the combustion engine to boost the power return according to the situation, thus allowing for fuel savings of 0.4 liters per 100 kilometers. Additionally, the setup can also recuperate and store up to 40 percent of the braking energy.

Prices

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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In Germany, the current-gen VW Golf GTE can be had for €36,900 (roughly $40,645 at current exchange rates), so Golf 8-based GTE price tag might revolve around the same value, but since it’s a new car, our guess is a starting sticker in the region of €37,000-€38,000 (that’s $40,755-$41,860, more or less).

The new Golf 8 GTE will be by far the most efficient Golf in the range, now that the e-Golf has morphed into the ID.3. Expect the Golf 8 GTE to go on sale in early 2020.

Competition

Now, if we are to consider the VW Golf in general, the competition would include the likes of Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, and Renault Megane. However, none of these cars offer a plug-in hybrid variant, so you could say that the new Golf 8 GTE will be in a class of its own once it hits the market. Ford will launch a mild-hybrid version of the Focus (and Fiesta, for that matter) somewhere in 2020, but there’s no word about a plug-in hybrid variant. Renault and Opel are also cooking up a plug-in-hybrid version for the Megane and Astra, which will reportedly debut later this year, so we’ll get back on this topic once we’ll know more about these models.

However, the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in-Hybrid could be considered as its closest rival in terms of price range, size, and powertrain. Another candidate would have been the Kia Soul, but it is only offered as an all-electric vehicle.

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Hyundai Ioniq
- image 737980

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid starts at €32,000 (roughly $35,250) and is powered by a 1.6-liter GDI direct-injected gasoline engine that makes 105 horsepower. The ICE unit is assisted by a 44-kilowatt (59 horsepower) electric motor, for a total system output of 141 horsepower handled by a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Hyundai also says that the Ioniq can travel for up to 63 kilometers (39 miles) on electricity alone.

A Lithium-ion polymer battery pack is fitted inside every Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, which can be then charged to full in two hours and 15 minutes when connected to a 230-volt socket. The battery is located just under the passenger compartment. The Ioniq also uses aero-optimized wheels while the interior offers a fair share of technology thanks to the 10.25-inch tactile display positioned centrally on top of the dashboard (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported), a seven-inch instrument cluster display, and wireless smartphone charging pads, which is something we’re also expecting to see inside the new Golf 8 GTE.

Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid

Conclusion

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTE Exterior Spyshots
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By the looks of it, Volkswagen is set to be the first carmaker to introduce a plug-in-hybrid version for its compact hatchback. The Germans, however, will have to expect stiff competition from pretty much every rival, because the likes of Renault, Opel, and Ford are looking to offer the Megane, Astra, and Focus in plug-in-hybrid guise, meaning that the battle for supremacy in the compact hatchback segment will only get rougher and rougher.

With the electrification efforts of the VW Group as a whole, the Golf 8 GTE has the upper hand for now, but in the end, deciding which is the most popular electrified compact hatch will be a matter of sales. Another important aspect for those looking to buy a plug-in hybrid these days is the technology package it offers, and in this regard, VW has done the utmost to make sure the new Golf (and, subsequently, the Golf 8 GTE) is up to the task.

  • Leave it
    • Bland design
    • Still expensive to buy
    • Not a hoot to drive

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